For New Yorkers, the thought of another statewide lockdown, that only allows businesses deemed essential to remain open, is less than welcome by many. But the state's Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said if people adhere to newly implemented guidelines, another shutdown can be avoided.
“That is really our last-resort situation, having put this economy, the city of New York, the entire state of New York, through a really excruciating time for our businesses,” Hochul told Cheddar.
Starting Friday, new guidelines require bars, restaurants with liquor licenses, and gyms to close at 10 p.m. Private gatherings have also been limited to 10 people.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is implementing the new guidelines as case numbers surge not just in the Empire State, but even more nationwide, in what is expected to be the next wave of the virus, Hochul said.
“It’s all driven by the numbers. We’ve been monitoring the infection rate, the rate of transmission, very closely for months now, and it’s sad to say that we’ve actually become experts on this having been, as you said, the epicenter,” she added.
While New York made strides in reducing the number of infections and deaths over the summer, Hochul said recent holiday travel and private gatherings, where people are likely to be less responsible when it comes to masking up, played a part in rising numbers.
“Think about our healthcare workers who’ve never left the frontlines all this time and now they’re wondering why everybody isn’t following the rules to keep them safe and their loved ones safe,” she continued.
Prepared for COVID-19’s Next Wave
Still, the lieutenant governor said the state is mostly ready to take on the next wave of the virus.
“We actually did foresee a spike in cases, predicted this over the summer,” Hochul said.
Hospitals, according to Hochul, are now better equipped to handle a surge in patients and were required to stockpile three months' worth of PPE. Rapid testing has become more widely available across the state, however, some places are running low, she said.
The state has also begun crafting plans to distribute a vaccine once it becomes available. Those plans include going directly into communities and places of worship, where some of the highest rates of infection and transmission have been recorded, and help spread awareness through local leaders, Hochul said.
While being proactive is only part of what will help New York beat the virus, Holchul said the plan will only work if everyone can get on the same page for the greater good.