Gov. Cuomo warns of COVID-related illness in children that has claimed three lives; NY on Pause extended through June 6

(Updated: 5 p.m.)

Calling it a “truly disturbing” development, Governor Andrew Cuomo on Saturday shared new information about how the coronavirus is effecting young people.

The governor said New York hospitals have reported 73 cases of what they believe to be a COVID-related illness in children who are toddlers or elementary-school aged. The symptoms present themselves similar to Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome, the governor said. Three children have died, he said, including a teenager in Suffolk County.

“These are children who come in and don’t present the symptoms that we normally are familiar with with COVID,” Mr. Cuomo said. “They’re not respiratory problems. I think that’s one of the reasons why this might be getting discovered this far into the process.”

The governor said the infection is an inflammation of blood vessels that is causing heart problems in children. In each of the instances, the children are testing positive for COVID-19 or have antibodies associated with the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and prevention is asking the New York State Department of Health to develop national criteria to assist other states and hospital systems in treating and identofying this new development among youths.

The governor said it’s just the latest change to how experts understand the illness.

“So much of the initial information we had turned out to be incorrect,” he said of COVID-19. “This is the last thing we need at this time.”

Data from the New York State Department of Health shows three fatalities among children under 10 and eight additional deaths have been reported among New York State residents between the age of 10-19.

NY on Pause extended

Gov. Cuomo on Friday signed an executive order extending the closure of non-essential businesses through June 6.

The order, however, does not prevent him from opening up portions of the economy in different regions across the state prior to that date. It has been expected that portions of New York will reopen for construction and several other industries May 15. Had the current order not been extended, all industries would have been allowed to reopen at that time.

Earlier this week, Mr. Cuomo announced criteria regions must hit before the economy can be reopened. Long Island — Suffolk and Nassau counties will be counted together — had only reached two of seven benchmarks when the criteria was released earlier this week. The state has not released any official update to how regions are doing since that time, though it is expected to next week.

The main measurements for monitoring and implementing reopening in a certain region remain:

• Monitoring new infections

• Health care capacity

• Diagnostic testing capacity

• Contact tracing capacity

Mr. Cuomo outlined 10 more specific measurements that a region and its local government must constantly monitor on a day-to-day basis.

Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say regions must have at least 14 days of decline in total hospitalizations and deaths on a three-day rolling average. Regions also can’t 15 total new cases or five new deaths on a three-day rolling average.

To monitor the potential spread of infection, a region must have fewer than two new COVID patients admitted per 100,000 residents per day.

As has previously been reported, hospitals must have at least 30% total capacity and ICU beds available to account for any potential surges in cases.

County Executive Steve Bellone said Saturday that Suffolk was just about at 30%.

Bellone wants local groups to be able to be able to lay out flags for Memorial Day

The county executive has written the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to allow for local control over traditional flag laying ceremonies around Memorial Day.

Local groups, including scouts, decorated national cemeteries each year but current federal guidelines due to COVID-19 would prevent that this year.

Mr. Bellone said at his afternoon media briefing Saturday that he has written the VA to allow for local health departments to approve such ceremonies, so long as they can assure safety guidelines are being met.

“This virus has taken a lot from us,” Mr. Bellone said. “We cannot allow it to stop us from honoring America’s heroes.”