New York state residents are now required to “stay at home” unless absolutely necessary, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday.
“We’re going to take it to the ultimate step, and we’re going to close the valve. We’re going to put an executive order out today, New York state is on pause,” he said in a press conference. The order will take effect on Sunday night.
Under the new order, 100 percent of non-essential workers are now to be at home except for trips to get groceries, medications and other needed items, and must stay six feet apart from each other. Residents are allowed to go outside for walks and exercise, but only if they are solo.
“It’s not laying in a park with 10 other people and sharing a beer — that’s not what this is,” Cuomo said.
Essential workers — those in health care, grocery and pharmacy staff and utility workers — are to continue.
“These are not helpful hints. These are legal provisions. They will be enforced,” Cuomo said. “There will be a civil fine and mandatory closure for any business that is not in compliance.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had pushed for a “shelter-in-place” order earlier in the week and said on Tuesday that residents should expect one in the next 48 hours. However, Cuomo needed to approve any such declaration and said that he would not move to any kind of lockdown.
In his decision Friday, Cuomo emphasized that this was not a “shelter-in-place” order, as that is reserved for active shooter or war situations. He said he did not want to use terms that could potentially harm people’s mental health.
“Words matter,” he said.
On Thursday night, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a similar order for residents to stay at home.
As of Friday afternoon, there are 7,102 cases of the virus in New York state, 4,408 of which are in New York City, according to The New York Times. At least 29 people in the state have died. The state accounts for around one-third of all U.S. cases, however they have also done the most testing — 32,427 as of Friday. Cuomo said that the state is now testing more people per capita than China or South Korea.
Cuomo had previously reduced the amount of non-essential workers to 50 percent, and then 75.
In New York City, de Blasio had previously announced that all theaters, gyms and casinos will close, and all bars and restaurants can only offer take-out.
New York City
On Sunday night, after facing pressure from parents and teachers unions, de Blasio agreed to close New York City schools for at least five weeks. The public school system in the city is the largest nationwide, with 1.1 million students, and a significant portion rely on schools for free meals. Additionally, 114,000 students are homeless. Schools will continue to provide free breakfasts and lunches, and teachers will begin remote instruction on Monday.
On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that a mass quarantine of the city “cannot happen,” the Times reported. However, he said that cases in the city are likely to peak in the next 45 days, and he anticipates a shortage of hospital beds during that time. Right now, New York has around 53,000 hospital beds and 3,000 intensive care beds. If COVID-19 peaks at that time, they would need 55,000 to 110,000 hospital beds and 18,600 to 37,000 intensive care beds.
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