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Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul on preparing, collaborating and next steps in coronavirus outbreak

Lieutenant Governor's office

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul joined "Morning Edition" host Leah Landry this week to discuss how New York state is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, how collaborating with the federal government has gone and what next steps are for containment and rebuilding.

On if upstate New Yorkers should be worried

Between international travel to New York City and sheer population density, Hochul said it’s no surprise that the city is a hotspot in the coronavirus pandemic.

"I would say, 'Don’t worry,'" Hochul said.

The apex has not yet been reached, she added, but this is where upstate New York may have an advantage. Hochul said, in a way, we can take advantage of the rolling nature of COVID-19 cases.

“What that does is allows us to go where the crisis is -- where the most urgent need is right now in New York City -- actually learn some best practices … and then take those lessons upstate if and when the need arises,” Hochul said.

"The scope is shocking -- that's what hurts at a personal level."

Continued social distancing could help us avoid upstate New York becoming a crisis center, she said.

"I have been in contact with our local elected officials, spoke with [Onondaga] County Executive Ryan McMahon and Mayor Ben Walsh in Syracuse,” she said. “And Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow is on top of this, as well.”

According to Hochul, health facilities upstate are preparing for the worst.

“But if we are fortunate and all the practices that we’ve put in place bear the fruit we’re hoping for, we won’t need them.”

On the scope of the novel coronavirus

“The scope is shocking – that’s what hurts at a personal level,” Hochul said. “Not just on the sacrifices of people who may have lost their jobs and are fearful about what the future is going to bring for them and their families, but also literally the tragic loss of life that is just going to become more commonplace.”

On collaborating with the federal government

When asked how she would qualify collaboration between New York state and the federal government, Hochul said it “depends on the time of day.”

"The governor, every time he had a road block and was told 'No' or didn't get the answer he wanted, he just kept pushing and pushing and pushing."

There is a lot that could have been done sooner, according to Hochul: allowing more testing, and securing the U.S. Navy Hospital Ship Comfort and the Javits Center as hospital settings for coronavirus patients are just some of the examples she gave.

On next steps

“Once we get through the health crisis, and we will, then we can get the economy back rolling,” Hochul said. She added recovery is the next step and focus of the governor.

“We’re not going anywhere. We’re gonna see this through.”