NEW YORK – Starting Sunday, non-essential workers in New York state will have to stay home, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is mandating, as the number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus soars past 7,000.
AM I AN ESSENTIAL WORKER?
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Citywide, as of 6 p.m. Friday, there were 5,683 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 43 fatalities.
The borough-by-borough breakdown, with some fluctuation in the numbers:
- Brooklyn: 1,740 confirmed cases
- Queens: 1,514
- Manhattan: 1,402
- The Bronx: 736
- Staten Island: 285
As of Friday morning, Cuomo reported at least 7,102 confirmed coronavirus cases in New York state. That number was reported before the city’s total increased to 5,683.
A day earlier, the state’s confirmed case count was 4,152, and the city reported 3,954 cases and 26 deaths Thursday night. The numbers of cases are expected to only increase exponentially over the coming weeks and months as more tests are conducted.
The state’s hospitalization rate was 18 percent as of Friday morning. Cuomo said New York is now conducting more testing per capita than China or South Korea.
NEW YORK ON ‘PAUSE’
Under the governor’s PAUSE declaration — which stands for Policies, Assure, Uniform, Safety and Everyone — 100 percent of the state's non-essential workforce is ordered to stay home or work from home, and people are asked to remain indoors with some exceptions, such as to pick up takeout food or get groceries, medicine, or exercise.
"When I talk about the most drastic action we can take, this is the most drastic action we can take," Cuomo said.
Grocery stores, pharmacies, delivery services, social services, health care operators, banks, gas stations, and media organizations will remain in operation.
Houses of worship are not ordered closed, but it is strongly recommended no services be held.
As for restaurants and bars, they can remain open under the current rules, which allow for takeout and delivery but no seating customers.
And as for health care, exemptions includes not only hospitals but also, among other things, walk-in facilities and veterinarians' offices.
Just Thursday, Cuomo had asked for 75 percent of a business’s workforce to stay home.
Cuomo says there will be enforced provisions in the form of civil fines and mandatory closures for businesses not in compliance.
At this time, Cuomo says there will be no civil fines on individuals who ignore the mandates. If groups of people still gather outside — as people were doing in parts of the city Friday — Mayor Bill de Blasio said the NYPD will instruct people to engage in social distancing and ask them to break up large groups.
Cuomo says the city's transit system will remain operational, but only essential personnel should utilize it.
Cuomo says non-essential gatherings of any size are now canceled statewide.
Cuomo insisted his executive order is not the same as a shelter-in-place order, which de Blasio earlier this week said New Yorkers must prepare for. Cuomo overruled that, saying he was not prepared to “imprison” people in their homes.
While saying that "language is important," Cuomo is now shifting gears by embracing rules that de Blasio had been pushing.
Speaking on Friday evening, de Blasio praised the governor’s executive order, saying it was “the right thing to do.”
The mayor also announced additional restrictions and changes in the city:
- All field permits, events, and team sporting events at city parks are canceled.
- The city is reducing NYC Ferry and Staten Island Ferry service due to low ridership — 70 percent in the case of the Staten Island Ferry. Starting Sunday at midnight, the Staten Island Ferry will make fewer trips, reducing weekday rush hour trips.
- Parts of the city will get temporary bike lanes as bike usage has soared.
During his briefing in Albany on Friday, Cuomo also outlined "Matilda's Law," named for his mom, for vulnerable New Yorkers.
The directive affects seniors over the age of 70, anyone who is classified as immune-compromised and those with underlying illnesses.
Those who fall under those categories are being told to:
- Stay indoors
- Try to only go outside for solitary exercise
- Pre-screen all visitors and aides by taking their temperature
- Do not visit households with multiple people
- All vulnerable persons should wear a mask when in the company of others
- To the greatest extent possible, everyone in the presence of vulnerable people should wear a mask
- Always stay at least six feet away from individuals
- Do not take public transportation unless urgent and absolutely necessary
A PUSH FOR MORE MEDICAL SUPPLIES
Cuomo said ventilators remain the greatest need for the state's hospital system.
He is also putting a call out to all medical product providers, saying the state will pay a premium for PPE, gloves, gowns, and masks.
Cuomo also announced that all elective surgeries in New York state will be canceled next week, helping free up to 35 percent of all hospital beds for a flood of expected incoming coronavirus patients. Cuomo says the state is stretching its 50,000 bed capacity. De Blasio already announced a cancellation of elective surgeries in New York City.
BARBERSHOPS AND SALONS TO CLOSE, NO EVICTIONS FOR 90 DAYS
Earlier on Friday, Cuomo ordered that all barbershops, nail salons, tattoo parlors, piercing shops, and other grooming services will be closed as part of the state's ongoing efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
That order will go into effect this Saturday at 8 p.m.
The governor says these services cannot be provided while maintaining social distancing.
His order adds grooming services to the list of industries that have already been ordered to close, including restaurants, bars, movie theaters, malls, and bowling alleys.
On the financial front, Cuomo says there will be a moratorium on residential and commercial evictions for 90 days.
The state budget director added that New York will not charge interest or penalties for missing Friday's sales tax deadline.
MORE THAN 50 MEMBERS OF THE NYPD TEST POSITIVE
52 members of the NYPD have tested positive for the coronavirus, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea announced Friday evening. One member has been hospitalized with pneumonia-like symptoms.
Shea also reported a drop in crime and 911 calls in the city as fewer people gather outside, although 911 calls for sick patients has increased as expected. Shea did not specify how much crime has decreased.
FURTHER CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE