Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a series of new measures to control the spread of the coronavirus as 221 new cases were reported in the state in less than 24 hours.
Cuomo has warned the caseload would jump in part because testing kits were more widely available, as there were insufficient kits over the last week. Cuomo thanked President Trump and Vice-President Pence for making more kits available, adding the state would be able to test 7,000 people a day by the end of the week.
However, Cuomo also criticized the federal government for not putting out uniform restrictions on things such as school or business closures.
“This is a national pandemic, but there are no national rules,” he said.
In the absence of this, Cuomo announced sweeping mandatory restrictions on many forms of life in New York.
“If the federal government isn’t going to do what it should do, then the states have to do their best,” Cuomo said.
. All restrictions are in place until further notice:
-There will be no gatherings of 50-plus people
-Casinos, gyms and theaters will be closed as of 8 p.m. tonight
-Bars and restaurant will close at 8 p.m. tonight but can still do take-out or delivery. The State Liquor Authority will be announcing changes to their laws to allow alcohol to be purchased at take-outs.
-A minimum of 50 percent of government workers – both state and local – will be required to work from home.
Cuomo also suggested all non-essential businesses to close after 8 p.m., adding this could be made mandatory in the future.
All fees at state parks will also be waived to allow people to enjoy one of the few safe activities during the pandemic.
Cuomo reiterated his call to the federal government to use the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to retrofit existing buildings and turn them into temporary medical facilities for those afflicted by COVID-19.
Cuomo first requested this in an open letter to President Trump published in the New York Times.
Cuomo mentioned “flattening the curve” – a public health concept stating it was important to slow infections once an outbreak is uncontainable, so the infections are spaced far enough for the hospital system to handle the volume.
It was already too late for this, Cuomo said: the state’s hospitals would be overwhelmed unless additional beds and facilities are available.
The state’s National Guard would work with construction unions and private developers to convert existing facilities – such as college dormitories and former nursing homes – into temporary medical facilities for the afflicted.
Conservatively – and currently – New York City needs 5,000 additional hospital beds, Westchester County needs 2,000 additional beds, and Nassau and Suffolk counties need 1,000 each, according to Cuomo.
Cuomo also closed the state’s additional schools – more than 80 percent of students already had their classes cancelled by local governments – and said schools would have to be left partially open and provide child-care for workers essential to fighting the coronavirus, such as nurses or police officers.
There is now a total of 950 confirmed cases in the state, according to the state Department of Health. There have been seven deaths as of Monday morning, all announced since Saturday.