Lack of virus testing can delay reopening of NYC

Lack of virus testing can delay reopening of NYC

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says it could take weeks if not months before the country's most populous city reopens due to a lack of extensive testing.

De Blasio, whose city is at the epicentre of the coronavirus epidemic in the US, said New York needs to be conducting hundreds of thousands of tests a day.

The city's rate of hospitalisations also needs to decline further before its economy can be reopened, he said.

"We could get there but we can't do it without widespread testing and so far the federal government still can't get their handle on that," de Blasio told MSNBC, adding that ending social distancing too soon could rekindle the virus.

"The federal government, especially, needs to get the memo that this thing ain't over and if you pretend it's over it is only going to boomerang back and make it worse."

De Blasio's warning on testing mirrored remarks by many governors over the weekend disputing US President Donald Trump's statements they have ample tests for COVID-19.

The US has by far the world's highest number of recorded coronavirus cases, with more than 750,000 infections and over 40,500 deaths.

According to a report by Reuters, almost half of the fatalities are in New York state.

Trump's recommendations for reopening the economy suggest a state record of 14 days of declining case numbers before phasing out restrictions.

Yet the Republican president appeared to promote demonstrators who want to reopen faster, with a series of Twitter messages on Friday calling for them to "LIBERATE" Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia, all run by Democratic governors.

An estimated 2,500 people rallied at Olympia's state capitol in Washington to protest the stay-at-home order of Democratic Governor Jay Inslee, one of many protests.

Image: New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio speaks to the media during a press conference in temporary hospital located at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center as the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in the Queens borough of New York City, New York, US. (REUTERS)