ALBANY, New York (WABC) -- Three people have died from coronavirus COVID-19 as the number of cases swelled to 729 in the state, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday.
Cuomo said the third death was a 79-year-old woman who had "multiple, major underlying health issues."
Cuomo also asked private businesses to "aggressively consider" work from homes and voluntary closing measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.
"I'm asking them voluntarily to shut down their bar, their restaurant, their gymnasium," Cuomo said. Cuomo did not rule out taking more action.
Cuomo says all non-essential state government personnel who work in Rockland County and counties in southern New York should should stay home due to COVID-19 coronavirus.
New York is now the state with the most cases of COVID-19 in the country. 137 of the 729 people are in hospitals of which 65 are in the ICU and 46 are intubated.
He also said the Army Corps of Engineers should be mobilized to help fight the coronavirus by equipping facilities like military bases or college dormitories to serve as temporary medical centers.
Cuomo continues to say that there are not enough ICU beds in the state in the event the curve is not flattened.
" You will be not able to flatten the curve to avoid the wave. You will be short thousands of ICU beds, thousands of ventilators. The only way to prevent that today given this time constraint is to deploy The Army Corp of Engineers and use that to capacity retrofit existing facilities to free up hospital beds. The decision is easy when you have no options. Here, the nation has no option," he said.
Cuomo said that of the 3,000 ICU beds available in the state, only about 600 are currently available. The rest are taken up by patients.
A total of 5272 people have been tested - 442 of those were tested since Saturday night.
Cuomo continued on his stance of not calling for a state-wide closing of schools saying that doing so is "not that simple," mentioning its role as a child care provider and a meal-provider, too.
In an opinion piece published Sunday in The New York Times, the Democrat called on President Donald Trump to authorize states to expand testing capabilities, set federal standards for shutting down commerce and schools and mobilize the military to bolster medical treatment capabilities.
"States cannot build more hospitals, acquire ventilators or modify facilities quickly enough," Cuomo wrote, saying the expertise and equipment of the Army Corps is "our best hope."
The virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.
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Coronavirus Update: 3 deaths in NY as Cuomo calls on Army Corps to help fight virus spread
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