• Cuomo Asks Medical Offices for Vital Ventilators to Fight the “War” on Coronavirus

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    By Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Concern is growing over equipment shortages in hospitals.

    “Ventilators are to this war what missiles were to World War II,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo Friday morning.

    Cuomo says New York State urgently needs 30,000 ventilators to treat the rising number of coronavirus cases and is asking medical offices to sell unused medical  supplies to the State Health Department. He has also called on the federal government to act to get thousands more ventilators in hospitals nationwide.

    “Rosie the Rivertor. We need ventilators. That is the key piece of equipment. We can get the beds. We’ll get the supplies, but the ventilator is a specific piece of equipment. These are people with respiratory illnesses,” Cuomo pleaded.

    Companies who are able to sell unused medical supplies can call (646) 522-8477 or email COVID19supplies@esd.ny.gov.

    “At the end of this when patients are suffering from respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia and respiratory failure that can occur, the only way to keep them alive is to get them on a ventilator and support their respiratory system that way,” said Dr. Brian Bezack, a pediatric pulmonologist based in Commack, Long Island. “As more people are getting tested and more people are getting sick with the virus as it spreads, those more severe cases are the ones that end up in our ICUs and the ones that need the ventilators and we need to have them on hand.”

    This is Dr. Bezack’s busy season when children suffering with asthma come in with serious respiratory symptoms exacerbated by the cold air. The past few weeks, he has been inundated with questions based on misinformation surrounding COVID-19 and how it impacts asthmatics.

    “I had a patient call me the other day and say, ‘You know, I’ve been reading about asthma, and since my child is on steroids, steroids are not good and it lowers your immune system, and so, I want to take them off their asthma medication,’”  Dr. Bezack recalled. “To me, that was probably the most dangerous thing I had heard.”

    He emphasized inhaled steroids do not lower one’s immune system. The biggest way for people who have asthma to fight coronavirus or any respiratory illness, Dr. Bezack said, is to have as close to 100 percent control over one’s asthma.


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  • Small Business Owners Try To Stay Afloat, Pay Workers Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

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    By Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – The coronavirus pandemic hit thriving local food and hospitality businesses hardest, halting sit-down eateries and slowing foot traffic as government imposed unprecedented actions to shut restaurants and people practice social distancing in an effort to slow the spread of the deadly disease.

    Two weeks ago, Seth Goldstein – the franchisee of three Jersey Mike’s Subs locations on Long Island – was preparing for its annual “Month of Giving” initiative in which the chain projected to donate $8 million from its nationwide sales on March 25 to The Make-A-Wish Foundation. Now, Jersey Mike’s is trying to stay afloat and continue to pay its workers.

    “We want to make sure we can pay our full-time people,”  Goldstein said, noting he considers all employees who work 40 hours or more a week to be “full-time.” “We got to take care of the people who are taking care of us all the time.”

    He will apply for any interest-free loans provided as a stimulus by the federal government.

    He slashed hours for students who are now home looking for more work.

    Goldstein’s sub shops are currently open from 11 AM-8 PM. Its normal hours are 10 AM-9 PM. He is anticipating Jersey Mike’s will further reduce operating hours with the sub shop open only for take-out and delivery.

    In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this week that all restaurants and bars in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will be closed to dining in and may only provide food take-out and delivery services.

    “We are seeing about a 30-35 percent drop-off in the sandwiches that we make,” said Goldstein who measures his business by “bread count.”

    As an entrepreneur from the time he graduated college, he understands the importance of making adjustments. Goldstein’s foray into business was when he bought a piece of the Baskin-Robbins store he worked at as a 14 and 15 year old with his life savings and then some.

    “I’m hoping that people still come out when they eat lunch,” said Goldstein who now sees it as inevitable that technology will disrupt the fast-food business.

    “I think that a lot of people will be working from home on a split-basis going forward. I think that our business has changed a little bit in the fact that a lot of our online ordering will be augmented here, a lot of the delivery systems will be augmented here.”

    Even an 83 year old business on the Lower East Side is seeing an unprecedented decline in sales this week.

    “We’ve gotten through 9/11, we’ve gotten through the hurricane, Sandy, we will work to get through this as well, but we’ve never had to close down,” said Mitchell Cohen, the third-generation owner of Economy Candy – an old-fashioned candy store that carries all the classics from Black Jack to Clove Gum and 2,000 more selections.

    Cohen’s store was impacted by President Donald J. Trump’s travel ban on foreigners coming to the U.S. from most European nations. Economy Candy thrives on tourist food traffic.

    He has adjusted work schedules and reduced in-store hours for workers to for health reasons and insists he needs to pay all his employees.

    “[I need to > take care of them so they can take care of their bills and their families,” said Cohen.

    During a devastating week for in-store sales in an eerily vacant Lower Manhattan, the former Wall Street analyst who grew up in his family’s candy shop realized new ways to be efficient and market to potential new customers.

    “I don’t believe I’ve ever gotten this much in the weeds on scheduling and inventory management and that kind of thing,” Cohen said laughing. “Luckily, we still have suppliers that are still delivering because they need the business, too, so there could be a trickle-down effect. If we could get some business online, I could get some orders to other people and I keep on going down the road.”

    For many small business owners across the country, the impact of the pandemic was felt immediately.

    Richard Bayliss, owner of Nu-Way Cleaners and Tailors in White Plains, which has been in the family for 75 years, said he didn’t see this coming.

    “It wasn’t a gradual thing where you could turn around and say, ‘Let’s try to do this, let’s try to do that,” he told WCBS 880’s Mack Rosenberg.

    Bayliss relies on delivery service as one of his main sources of income. Nu-Way usually delivers to 150 homes per day, but Bayliss says it’s down to a quarter of that now.

    When you walk into nu-way, you feel like you’re in a factory. Pants and jackets fly from clotheslines overhead, while cashiers at several registers figure out what goes where, and how much it’ll cost you. Bayliss employs around 30 people. Most of them have worked for him for at least 10 years.

    “You got these people that are working people. It just breaks my heart because I don’t really want to lay anybody off. We’re cutting their hours back. It’s hard when you go up to them and they’re supposed to work until 6, and you have to say ‘Well do you want to go home at 1 today,'” he said.

    Bayliss says morale is still strong in the store, and there are no plans to close.

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  • Blood Drives Seeking Donors As Supply Slows Down

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    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The New York Blood Center says that 75 percent of its incoming blood supply was interrupted when schools, business and religious institutions closed because of coronavirus.

    Andrea Cefarelli, the Senior Executive Director of Donor Recruitment for the New York Blood Center, says they’ve increased hours at their centers in an effort to bring in more donors.

    “We’ve added days and added shifts so many days we are open 12 hours per day, in the hopes that healthy individuals will come out to donate and give the gift of life,” Cefarelli told WCBS 880’s Neil A. Carousso.

    The centers have switched from walk-ins to appointment only, so that they can manage a safe distance between donors.

    “In New York, we usually have about 30,000 blood donations per month,” Cefarelli said. “We’ve seen cancellations of 25,000”

    The centers want to remind potential donors that a single pint of donated blood can be used to save multiple lives.

    The center’s 19 locations across New York and New Jersey do not test for novel coronavirus.

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  • NYC To Open 1st Drive-Thru COVID-19 Test Site Thursday On Staten Island

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    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — New York City’s first drive-through coronavirus testing site will open on Staten Island Thursday morning.

    The site will be located at the South Beach Psychiatric Center on Seaview Avenue.

    Congressman Max Rose, who represents Staten Island, took to Twitter to announce the testing facility will be open to all New Yorkers, but by appointment only. It will operate from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

    The Health Department notes that a person must be experiencing symptoms of the virus to be eligible for an appointment.

    If somebody suspects they may have the virus, they should call the New York State Department of Hospitality at (888) 364-3065.

    The state opened another drive-through testing center at Jones Beach on Long Island Tuesday morning.

    The site is also testing on an appointment basis, and patients must show identification at various checkpoints in order to ensure no tests are wasted.

    The first drive-through testing site opened in New Rochelle last week, when the city had the largest cluster of cases in the state. Most were connected to a 50-year-old attorney who worked in Manhattan.

    For information on how to make an appointment, call the New York State Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Hotline at 1-888-364-3065.

    Rockland County opened its first drive-through center on Wednesday afternoon at the MedRite Urgent Care in Spring Valley. Officials hope to be able to test hundreds of people per day at the location.

    Meanwhile, ProHEALTH, a private medical facility in New York, opened two other locations in Jericho and Little Neck on Wednesday.

    ProHEALTH patients who are experiencing symptoms of a high fever, sore throat and cough, and those who have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, may call a dedicated hotline for a medical screening before they are able to make an appointment for a test, which includes a nasopharyngeal swab in both nostrils.

    “We try to make an assessment and then act accordingly,” Dr. Bonnie Simmons, chair of ProHEALTH Urgent Care, told WCBS 880. “It may be stay home and continue doing what you’re doing, it may be go to a hospital, it isn’t turning around fast enough.”

    Dr. Simmons said there are still hospital beds available, but medical professionals are concerned hospitals could reach maximum capacity. ProHEALTH is increasing its Telemedicine capabilities for doctor evaluations to prevent an overflow in its urgent care.

    “The best way to limit this entire pandemic is for everybody to stay home and self-isolate and self-medicate with Tylenol [or] Advil like you would with any other virus,” said Dr. Simmons who started tested patients in Jericho at 7 AM on Wednesday.

    ProHEALTH will be able to test a couple hundred in-network patients a day at both new locations. The healthcare system is offering testing for non-ProHEALTH patients at its other locations on Long Island and in New York City.

    The ProHEALTH coronavirus hotline is (516) 874-0411.

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  • Super Tuesday 2020: Sanders Wins Prized California Primary As Biden Surges Nationwide

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    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Super Tuesday seemed to turn into a two-man battle between former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders early in the night, despite five candidates vying for delegates from 14 states and one U.S. territory.

    About one-third (1,344) of all delegates were up for grabs and it takes 1,991 pledged delegates to win the nomination.

    Biden saw a surge of support Tuesday after gaining endorsements from Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Monday night.

    RELATED: What You Need To Know On Super Tuesday

    Early in the night, Biden scored a series of wins taking Alabama, Oklahoma and the battleground states of North Carolina and Virginia. CBS News then projected the former Vice President to win the Tennessee primary and the Associated Press projected him to win Minnesota and Arkansas. He also took Massachusetts, upsetting Sen. Elizabeth Warren in her home state.

    Meanwhile, Sanders claimed the biggest Super Tuesday prize with the Associated Press projecting he would take California, which has 415 delegates up for grabs. Sanders also pulled off an expected home-state win in Vermont and took another victory in Colorado, which has 67 delegates at stake, as well as Utah.

    Maine and Texas were too close to call after midnight, with Biden holding a slim lead in Maine (about 2,000 votes) and a growing lead in Texas (about 25,000 votes).

    Votes were still being called early Wednesday, but the Associated Press allocated 362 delegates to Biden, 285 to Sanders, 30 to Bloomberg, 20 to Warren and one for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

    Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, appeared on the ballots for the first time on Super Tuesday, but saw a poor performance overall.

    While he took at least five delegates from American Samoa, according to the Associated Press, the former New York City mayor will reassess whether he will continue his bid for president on Wednesday.

    Hawaii Sen. Tulsi Gabbard remains in the race but has not reached double-digits – nor has any other candidate that has since dropped out.

    California poll numbers suggest Sanders also has the most support among potential voters with 35%. He is followed by Warren at 14%, Biden at 13% and Bloomberg at 12% support.

    Despite struggling in the polls, Warren vowed to remain in the race. Early results showed her polling in third in her home state, and that could be a bad look for her campaign.

    “Symbolically it’s bad. It hurts her narrative. The question then is if you can’t win in your home state where can you win?” CBS News reporter Zak Hudak told WCBS 880. “It’s embarrassing for her if that happens. Does it threaten her Senate seat in the future? I don’t know, maybe? At the very least it’s really embarrassing and it kind of creates this mentality of her own people, her own constituents, don’t want her to be president.”


    Neil A. Carousso is the 2020 Elections Producer for WCBS Newsradio 880, producing all multi-media content of WCBS’ Election Night special coverage.

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Neil A. Carousso is the producer in charge of content for the "Mooch and the Mrs. with Anthony and Deidre Scaramucci" podcast, exclusively via the Radio.com platform.
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