New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters on March 17 that people living in New York City should be prepared to shelter in place within the next 48 hours over the coronavirus outbreak. But New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it’s unlikely the entire city would be quarantined.
“This is a reality that is being talked about because the crisis continues to grow. We are all deeply concerned about the direction and the trajectory,” Mayor de Blasio said in a news conference. “It has not happened yet, but it is definitely a possibility at this point.”
De Blasio said he is prepared to sign a “shelter in place” order, but he didn’t say how it would be carried out in the city, which has a population of 8.5 million people.
Cuomo’s office later said that only the state has the ability to quarantine, saying that such a move would force people to go elsewhere.
“Any blanket quarantine or shelter in place policy would require state action and as the governor has said, there is no consideration of that for any locality at this time,” said a statement from Melissa de Rosa, a spokesperson for the governor, according to the New York Daily News.
“Rumors are part of the fear, the anxiety,” Cuomo also told reporters. “People spread rumors: Maybe we’re going to quarantine New York City? That is not true. … I have no interest whatsoever and no plan whatsoever to quarantine any city.”
In an attempt to underscore the potential severity of the situation, the governor said the number of cases is expected to peak in about 45 days.
“I don’t take this lightly at all,” de Blasio said. “Folks have to understand that right now, with so many New Yorkers losing employment, losing paychecks, dealing with all sorts of stresses and strains, I’m hearing constantly from people who are tremendously worried about how they’re going to make ends meet.”
It came a day after San Francisco Mayor London Breed and several other county officials signed an order to tell millions of residents to stay at home and leave for “essential reasons” only.
State and federal officials have announced restrictions on gatherings and travel as the virus continues to sweep across the country.
President Donald Trump announced on March 16 that the government recommends that Americans avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.