March 20, 2020
New York is joining California in seriously altering daily operations after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced he will sign an executive order mandating that 100 percent of the non-essential workforce stay home. The order will go into effect Sunday night.
The order will exclude businesses like pharmacies, grocery stores and services essential to keeping society running, he said. The governor said the "provisions will be enforced" and reminded people "these are not helpful hints," as he announced an uptick of confirmed cases to 7,102 as of Friday morning.
He said the state had performed 10,000 tests overnight. Of the total 32,427 tests done in the state, 4,408 of those cases are in New York City and about 1,250 of those patients are hospitalized. Last week, Cuomo said the goal was to run 6,000 tests a day, a number the state has now surpassed and a milestone the governor said places New York's testing per capita above that of China or South Korea.
Cuomo, who said he took full responsibility for the increased restrictions and the anger it may cause residents, likened his reasoning to tightening and, ultimately, closing a valve. The percentage of non-essential employees covered by these restrictions has increased in the past days from 50 percent to 75 percent and now to 100 percent.
"When we look back on this situation 10 years from now, I want to be able to say 'I did everything we could do,'" he said. "If everything we do saves just one life, I'll be happy."
To save lives, people need to stay indoors and hospitals need supplies, he said. Cuomo called on non-essential businesses to donate masks and said the Army Corps of Engineers is looking at possible locations for large, temporary facilities. Cuomo showed a photo of 'Rosie the Riveter" and asked for ventilators, saying "ventilators are to this war what missiles were to WWII."
Cuomo told New Yorkers, who number 19 million, that he consulted local elected and business leaders prior to the decision but, when questioned, maintained the order is different than a 'shelter in place.' He has continued to criticize the term, saying that term is used for active shooter situations and nuclear war.
"Outdoor recreation is a solitary action...not playing basketball outside with five other people," he warned young people, who public health officials are pushing harder on to practice social distancing. He reminded people to maintain a six feet distance when they need to go outdoors and to take extra precautions if there is a need to interact with vulnerable populations.
Cuomo announced new rules for those populations as well, instructing those over the age of 70 with underlying illnesses to wear masks when with others and said they should not visit households with multiple people.
Announcing the state's most severe measures to combat the novel coronavirus's spread, the governor reminded people to get fresh air when they need it and be mindful of anxiety and concern people are facing, particularly when they are expected to isolate or stay indoors.
"Those three-word sentences can make all the difference. I miss you. I love you. I'm thinking about you," he offered.