Head of Port Authority of NY and NJ Tests Positive for Coronavirus

Rick Cotton (file image courtesy City of Newark)

Published Mar 9, 2020 7:05 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo confirmed that the head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has tested positive for coronavirus. 

Rick Cotton, PANYNJ's executive director, may have contracted the virus at one of the authority's international airports. "He's been at the airports, obviously, when many people were coming back [into the U.S.] with the virus," Gov. Cuomo said. 

"Mr. Cotton is currently asymptomatic and has self-quarantined at his home while maintaining a full schedule. Any staff members who have had close contact with him in recent days are also working from home as they follow the guidelines and protocols put in place by the New York State Department of Health," said the port authority in a statement. 

His wife, Elizabeth W. Smith, has tested positive for the virus as well. Mrs. Smith is the president of the Central Park Conservancy, and her organization told the New York Times that she was tested after experiencing "mild symptoms" over the weekend. One dozen members of her team have also self-quarantined. 

As of Monday, there are 142 confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York, the majority of them in Westchester County. The updated count means that New York now has more known cases than any other state, though the numbers may change as testing becomes more widely available. Eight people have been hospitalized. 

In response to reported shortages and price gouging, the governor said that the state will begin producing 100,000 gallons of its own branded hand sanitizer per week, and will distribute it to government agencies, schools, prisons and other organizations. The state's brand is "New York State Clean," and according to the governor, it has a higher percentage of alcohol than the product sold by at least one well-known commercial competitor. A local manufacturer is supplying the product on contract.