NY Delays Presidential Primary; Nurses Appeal for Protective Gear

NEW YORK (AP) -
Mayor Bill de Blasio helps load a carton containing some of 250,000 face masks into a truck on a loading dock at U.N. headquarters. (Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office via AP)

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said he was delaying the state’s presidential primary from April 28 to June 23, when the state plans to hold legislative congressional and local party primaries.

“I don’t think it’s wise to be bringing people to one location to vote” on the April date, he said.

New York joins over a dozen states that have delayed some elections. A smaller group including Ohio, Georgia, Louisiana, Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island, Indiana and Kentucky have also postponed their presidential primaries.

The governor’s decision came as election commissioners across New York warned they were “risking” their health and safety to meet impending deadlines for testing machines and preparing ballots ahead of the April 28 date.

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NURSES APPEAL FOR MASKS

At a news conference outside city-run Jacobi Hospital, nurses called for more masks and other gear to safeguard themselves against the virus that has so far sickened more than 29,000 people and killed over 500 in the city.

At least one health care worker, Mount Sinai West assistant nursing manager Kious Kelly, 36, has died of the virus. Others also have fallen ill around the metropolitan region.

Jacobi nurses said managers at the Bronx hospital have been rationing protective equipment, making them unable to change out the high-end particle-filtering masks known as N95s as often as they should. Two Jacobi nurses are “fighting for their lives in the ICUs right now,” pediatric nurse Sean Petty said, blaming a scarcity of equipment.

City officials have insisted there’s enough protective equipment for roughly the next week, though they’re worried for the weeks after.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city delivered 200,000 N95 masks to hospitals Friday, with 800,000 more to come Saturday, along with loads of less-protective surgical masks and other gear. The United Nations mission on Saturday donated 250,000 face masks to the city, with the U.S. mission to the U.N. helping to facilitate the gift.

The city hospital system’s president, Dr. Mitchell Katz, said at a news conference Friday that staffers working exclusively with coronavirus patients could conserve supplies of N95 masks by wearing one throughout their shifts, overlaid with surgical masks that can be changed more frequently. Some health care workers have chosen to wear helmets with reusable air filters — somewhat like “a Darth Vader mask,” he said.

In some patient-care settings, a surgical mask will suffice, he said, but workers who prefer N95s can use them.

Petty said policies on protective equipment were being driven by shortages, not science, and he slammed officials as subjecting medical workers to avoidable risks.

“We will not let any health official or government official say that we have enough” protective equipment, he said, “until every health care worker has an N95 for every time they interact with a COVID-19 patient.”