New York’s governor is taking drastic measures to shutter businesses and keep people indoors as confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state climbed to nearly 1,000— half of them in New York City.
The state of 19.5 million people, now officially the nation’s epicenter for the outbreak, confirmed Monday that it has recorded 950 cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus so far. More than 200 of those cases cropped up in the past 24 hours. That’s compared to Washington State, where there have been 769 cases so far.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo responded by closing down restaurants and places of entertainment, and instituting a limited curfew starting Monday night.
He’s also asking for immediate federal help to quickly add hospital beds since New York expects to see so many cases in the coming days. Over the weekend, he wrote to President Donald Trump to ask that the Army Corps of Engineers be deployed to build temporary, excess hospital capacity across military bases and college dorms so existing hospital beds can be designated for the severely ill.
Cuomo said Monday that the federal government should coordinate a nationwide response similar to New York’s, as it’s so far been left up to the states to create a “hodge-podge” plan, leaving the nation “behind from Day One on this crisis.”
“States, frankly, don’t have the capacity or the power to make up for the federal government,” Cuomo said Monday.
Apparently Trump wasn’t pleased with the implication, posting and then deleting a tweet that criticized Cuomo — and prompting a reply from the governor.
New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has urged everyone in the city of 8.6 million to act as if they’ve already come into contact with the contagious respiratory illness that’s sickened more than 153,000 globally. People are being asked to stay home as much as possible, and the schools were shut down starting Monday.
Following guidelines from federal health officials late Sunday, New York State state — along with its neighboring states New Jersey and Connecticut — banned get-togethers of more than 50 people for the foreseeable future to limit the disease’s spread. There’s also a new 8 p.m. curfew across all three states for places like casinos and gyms, although grocery stores and essential businesses like pharmacies will remain open. The multistate response is to ensure that people don’t hop from state to state to seek goods and services.
“This is not a war that can be won alone, which is why New York is partnering with our neighboring states to implement a uniform standard that not only keeps our people safe but also prevents ‘state shopping’ where residents of one state travel to another and vice versa,” Cuomo said. “I have called on the federal government to implement nationwide protocols, but in their absence we are taking this on ourselves.”
Separately, New York City, which hosts the largest school district in the nation, with 1.1 million students, shut down its schools Monday until at least April 20. The city is expected to release a plan on what it will do to feed its low-income students over the long haul soon. For now, students can pick up grab-and-go lunches at their schools. Schools are also shut down across much of the country, although the disease presents less frequently in children. New Jersey announced it would close all K-12 schools Monday.
Cover: A subway customer wearing a face mask waits to board a car in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Monday, March 16, 2020. New York leaders took a series of unprecedented steps Sunday to slow the spread of the coronavirus, including canceling schools and extinguishing most nightlife in New York City. According to the World Health Organization, most people recover in about two to six weeks, depending on the severity of the illness. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)