All Non-Essential Workers Must Stay Home: New York Governor

March 20, 2020 Updated: March 20, 2020
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Every single person who works in a job that’s not essential to keeping society running is required to stay home, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday, as the state reported another spike in COVID-19 cases.

“This is the most drastic action we can take,” Cuomo said at a press conference in Albany.

An executive order Cuomo plans to sign will take effect on Sunday night.

Officials earlier in the week said no more than 50 percent of the workforce in non-essential businesses could work, elevating that on Thursday to no more than 25 percent before the announcement on Friday.

Essential businesses include pharmacies and grocery stores.

New York state has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the United States. The disease is caused by a new coronavirus that The Epoch Times refers to as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mishandling allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.

Epoch Times Photo
Bartender Andy Bechtol makes cocktails to-go at Caffe Dante bar and restaurant in Manhattan as the COVID-19 outbreak continued unabated in New York City on March 19, 2020. Bars and restaurants were closed by the city days ago but were allowed to sell food and now alcohol to go. (Victor J. Blue/Getty Images)

New York announced 2,950 new cases, taking the total to 7,102.

The bulk of the cases are in New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio called earlier in the day for a shelter in place order, which Cuomo has so far resisted authorizing. New York City now has 4,408 confirmed cases.

No other state has more than 1,376 cases.

The discrepancy may be because of the level of testing New York has done, Cuomo said. New York has tested 32,427 people.

All seniors over 70, people with compromised immune systems, and those with underlying illnesses in the state need to remain indoors, pre-screen all visitors by taking their temperature, not visit households with multiple people, and always stay at least six feet away from others, officials said in the update on Friday.

People who aren’t in those three groups should cancel or postpone non-essential gatherings of any size, limit the use of public transportation to when absolutely necessary, and stay at least six feet away from others.

“There are people and places in New York City where it looks like life as usual. No, this is not life as usual,” Cuomo said.

Epoch Times Photo
An empty Times Square is seen on the street following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New York City on March 18, 2020. (Jeenah Moon/Reuters)

The provisions will be enforced through the use of fines and other mechanisms, but enforcement will only be on business owners for now.

Cuomo said the new rules weren’t equivalent to a shelter in place order. “Shelter in place” is used currently for shootings, Cuomo argued, after previously being used in the case of a possible nuclear event.

The phrase “scared a lot of people,” he said, and officials don’t use it any longer.

Cuomo reiterated that officials are keeping a close eye on the rate of hospitalizations, which is so far 18 percent, and rate of intensive care unit admissions among those with the CCP virus in New York.

“We need more beds. We’ve been saying that, we know that; we’ve been working on it,” Cuomo said. Measures include the planned canceling all non-critical elective surgeries and allowing each room to fit double the normal capacity.

Like many states, New York officials are worried about a dearth of personal protective equipment, including gloves, gowns, and masks. They called on businesses to start making the products, saying the state will pay a premium for the supplies.

Ventilators are the state’s greatest need, prompting officials to tell any health department regulated facility that they must make ventilators not essential available to the state.

Some COVID-19 patients who require hospitalization are in such severe condition that they require assistance breathing.

“Ventilators are to this war what missiles were to World War II,” Cuomo told reporters.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber