By Nathan Layne and Maria Caspani
(Reuters) – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he planned to give U.S. President Donald Trump an unvarnished account of what his state needs to test residents for the novel coronavirus when they meet in Washington on Tuesday.
At his daily briefing, Cuomo said he would ask that the federal government take control of securing chemical agents and other materials needed to process tests, a major hurdle to increasing output at state labs.
“He has no problem telling me when he disagrees and he tells me he agrees,” said Cuomo, who added that he is equally frank with the president. “The heck with it, just tell the truth and whatever it is, it is.”
The White House meeting was due to take place at 4 p.m. ET (2000 GMT).
Cuomo outlined a regional approach to reopening businesses and schools, suggesting that rural areas could restart life more quickly than harder-hit urban locations like New York City, the epicenter of the U.S. crisis.
New York’s 211 state labs rely on manufacturers of testing machines to supply them with materials for processing the tests. Cuomo said the problem is that the manufacturers themselves are struggling to procure them from China and other places abroad.
In highlighting the problem, Cuomo showed a slide with pictures of machines made by Roche Holding AG <ROG.S>, Hologic Inc <HOLX.O> and Cepheid, a unit of Danaher Corp <DHR.N>
Cuomo noted that Maryland Governor Larry Hogan had worked to secure 5,000 test kits, expected to give the state the capacity for 500,000 new tests, from South Korea in recent days.
“God bless Governor Hogan,” he said, “but you shouldn’t expect all these governors to go run around and do an international supply chain while they are trying to put together their testing protocol in their states, coordinating their labs.”
With social distancing and lockdowns showing some positive results, Cuomo said he can begin to consider how to reopen a state that ranges from New York City with more than 8 million people to farm country and sparsely populated towns.
Cuomo said total hospitalizations for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, fell for the eighth straight day, dropping to 16,076 from 16,103 the day before. Intubations also continued to decline, he said.
But Cuomo also reported 481 additional deaths statewide, up from 478 a day earlier, bringing total fatalities to 14,828. New positive cases rose by 4,178 to 251,690, marking the lowest one-day increase in a month.
New Jersey, the second hardest hit state and located south and west of New York, reported 379 additional deaths, a record daily high, for total fatalities of 4,753, while positive cases increased by 3,643 to 92,387.
Cuomo, who last week extended his state’s lockdown until at least May 15, said the reopening plan would be regional.
“Just like some states will reopen before other states because they have a different circumstance when it comes to COVID … it’s also true across the state.”
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy told a briefing that while hospitalizations had largely leveled off, it would be at least several more weeks before the state could relax social distancing measures and open up businesses and schools.
Murphy said New Jersey also needed to roughly double the number of people it was testing on a daily basis and that it needed to boost its ability to trace contacts of people who test positive and to isolate them to prevent further spread.
“We are better than we were but we are not where we need to be,” Murphy said.
(reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut and Maria Caspani and Jessica Resnick-Ault in New York; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Howard Goller)