ALBANY, N.Y: The executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has tested positive for the coronavirus, as the state of New York surpassed Washington state with the most cases in the country, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
Rick Cotton, the Port Authority head, is presently working from home, and members of his senior team are being tested, Mr. Cuomo said at a news conference Monday morning. The governor didn’t say how Mr. Cotton contracted the virus. The Port Authority oversees the airports in the New York City area, as well as a commuter railroad, a bus terminal and port facilities.
The number of cases of coronavirus in New York state rose to 142—one more than Washington, making New York the state with the largest number of confirmed infections.
There were 16 new cases in Westchester, and seven new cases in New York City, according to Mr. Cuomo, who called Westchester County a national hot spot.
The governor said that only eight people out of the state’s 142 confirmed cases have been hospitalized.
“All we’re trying to do is reduce the spread,” said Mr. Cuomo. “I have no doubt that the numbers are going to increase.”
New York state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said the state would require any school where a student tests positive for the virus to close for 24 hours, and possibly longer, as public health workers assess each case.
The majority of coronavirus cases continue to be in Westchester County, said Mr. Cuomo. The state, in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will on Monday make a determination about further school closures in New Rochelle, N.Y., and possibly other communities in the area.
Schools serving the Orthodox Jewish community in the city are already closed, Mr. Cuomo said, as are the public schools in the nearby Scarsdale district. Some schools could be closed “for weeks,” said Mr. Cuomo.
Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday during an interview on CNN that he had a “high bar” for a school closure, noting that the most of parents don’t want to see schools closed, and children in poverty often rely on schools for meals. He said if necessary, he could envision the possibility of a “specific, targeted closure for limited periods of time” of an affected school where somebody tested positive.
“I don’t want to see mass closures,” he said. “I want a pinpoint response.”
Mr. Cuomo on Monday also announced that the state has begun producing its own brand of hand sanitizer, made by inmates at the Great Meadow Correctional Facility in upstate Washington County.
The solution will be distributed to local governments and school districts, the governor said, in light of price-gouging for sanitizing liquids.
—Leslie Brody contributed to this story.