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During New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo's Wednesday morning daily coronavirus press briefing, he said Michael Bloomberg will step up with a $10 million pledge of his own money to create a COVID-19 testing and contact tracing network connected to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, reports Business Insider.
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Bloomberg pledges $10 million for contact tracing network, says Cuomo
The forthcoming network will focus on the tri-state area in the United States — consisting of Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York, said Cuomo.
Mike Bloomberg — billionaire philanthropist and former mayor of New York City — plans to work with Johns Hopkins and New York State to create what Cuomo described as an "army" of workers to analyze the contacts of all who have tested positive with the COVID-19 illness, while also identifying and isolating those found to have it.
Like many other states, New York is embroiled in a budgeting nightmare directly tied to the pandemic.
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) April 22, 2020
UPDATE April 22, 2:30 PM EDT: New York budget stretched, Bloomberg fills gap in contact tracing funds
The state's current budget of $6 billion could possibly go beyond $10 billion, according to Cuomo and New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, reports Business Insider. So far, New York has expended $2.8 billion in the fight to curb the COVID-19 disease, according to Budget Director Robert Mujica.
"Michael Bloomberg will design the program, design the training, he's going to make a financial contribution," said Cuomo at an Albany, New York, press conference. "He has tremendous insight both governmentally and from a private-sector business perspective in this."
Cuomo added that the state of New York will scale up its capacity for COVID-19, and added that isolating and tracing those who've come into contact with the virus will be key in containing the outbreak. He also said the state will take "random surveys" of people at "grocery stores, street corners" to recruit the population to volunteer for antibody tests, which may detect whether someone has been previously infected with the COVID-19 illness, reports CNBC.
Cuomo added that this data-driven strategy will help the state understand when it might reopen the economy, which has been practically paralyzed by the outbreak.
"This is a monumental undertaking. We're all going to do it," said Cuomo, reports CNBC. "You don't have months to do this, you have weeks to do this super-ambitious undertaking."
UPDATE April 22, 2:40 PM EDT: The state of New York under COVID-19, Bloomberg's commitment
The COVID-19 coronavirus has infected more than 258,500 people across New York State as of writing, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Cuomo has said that tracing the contacts of that many people is an "extraordinarily impossible" task. He also said that an additional $1.3 billion in federal funding is now available to help with contact tracing.
For now, Bloomberg is building "an organization that can help hire the people, because we have to expand this number tenfold," added Cuomo.
"We're all eager to begin loosening restrictions on our daily lives and our economy. But in order to do that as safely as possible, we first have to put in place systems to identify people who may have been exposed to the virus and support them as they isolate," said Bloomberg in a statement, reports CNBC.
This comes one day after Cuomo's meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, where Trump pledged his commitment to work with New York to double the number of tests the state conducts every day, to 40,000, according to Cuomo, reports CNBC.
While the number of people hospitalized — as are those undergoing intubations — is dropping, the number of people hospitalized "is still troublingly high," said Cuomo. He added that 474 had died from the COVID-19 illness on Tuesday, down from Monday's 481.
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