Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency Saturday as reports of the coronavirus increase, and said a state agency would pursue charges of price gouging for cleaning products.
He said the statewide total of cases in New York has grown to 76.
“As we continue to provide essential updates and encourage people to act upon the facts on coronavirus instead of the hype, I have officially done a declaration of emergency which gives us certain powers to help local health departments that are very stressed,” Cuomo said.
“As the local health departments continue to monitor and quarantine people, we have a more expedited purchasing protocol to get them all the tools they need to contain the virus spread. In the meantime we are cracking down on price gouging which continues to be a problem, and I want businesses to be aware that you could lose your license because we are very serious about this.”
The New York State Department of State’s Consumer Protection Division will investigate reports of unfair price increases of consumer products such as household cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, and launched a toll-free hotline – 1-800-697-1220 – for New Yorkers to report suspected price gouging. Consumers who wish to file a complaint can visit https://www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection/.
This state of emergency declaration allows, among other things:
- Expedited procurement of cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer and other essential resources
- Allowing qualified professionals other than doctors and nurses to conduct testing
- Expedited procurement of testing supplies and equipment
- Expedited personnel onboarding
- Expedited leasing of lab space
- Allowing EMS personnel to transport patients to quarantine locations other than just hospitals
- Providing clear basis for price gouging and enforcement investigation
The 32 new cases identified Saturday are in New York City, Westchester and Saratoga counties. Of the 76 total individuals in New York State who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:
- Westchester: 57
- New York City: 11
- Nassau: 4
- Rockland: 2
- Saratoga: 2
On Friday,Cuomo announced travel insurance companies and travel agents will offer New York residents and businesses the ability to purchase coverage that would allow them to cancel a trip for any reason, including for reasons related to COVID-19.
The Department of Financial Services issued guidance allowing travel agents and travel insurers to offer this type of coverage after DFS received consumer complaints that such policies were not available in New York. This action is designed to assist New York businesses and residents making plans that may involve travel to locations that are not under travel advisories due to COVID-19.
Six global and national insurance companies have agreed to offer “cancel for any reason” coverage to travelers, including: Allianz, Nationwide, Starr Indemnity, Berkshire, Crum & Forster, and Zurich.
DFS also told New York State travel insurance issuers to reach out to those who bought policies to let them know what is covered.