Governor orders non-essential businesses and workers to stay home
New York State is heading to a virtual shutdown as officials organize their response to the spreading coronavirus. Governor Cuomo announced just after 11 a.m. that he is ordering "100 percent" of all employees at non-essential businesses to stay home. The latest workforce restrictions highlight the series of measures Cuomo calls PAUSE, or "Policies that Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone."
"These are non-essential services. Essential services have to continue to function. Grocery stores need food, pharmacies need drugs, your Internet has to continue to work, the water has to turn on when you turn the faucet. So there are essential services that will continue to function," Cuomo stated.
Earlier, Governor Cuomo and the governors of New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania announced that all barber shops, hair salons, tattoo or piercing parlors, nail salons, hair removal services, and related personal care services are to close to members of the public effective Saturday, March 21 at 8 p.m. The reason, it was explained, is that the services provided within cannot be carried out while maintaining safe social distance.
Cuomo's backing up Friday morning's order with some startling numbers. According to the governor, the number of COVID-19 cases across the state now stands at 7,102; the total announced yesterday was 4,152. According to the governor, there have been 1,255 people hospitalized across the state due to the coronavirus.
Additionally, more than 10,000 new tests were conducted since his last update Thursday. He expects with more testing will come more positive results.
"When you ramp up the number of tests, you're going to get more positive cases. Well, now we're more worried? No. Because it was the reality that tests are just demonstrating what was," he said. "And again, if we could do more tests, you will find more positives. And finding positives is a good thing because then we can isolate and we can track back."
Also announced today was the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in nearby Livingston County, leaving just a handful of New York locales which have not confirmed the presence of the virus.
The governor announced other measures including what is known as Matilda's Law, regarding steps to protect individuals ages 70 and older and individuals with compromised immune systems. Those rules include remaining indoors except for solitary exercise, prescreening the body temperatures of all visitors, avoiding visits to households with multiple people present, wearing a mask when with others, and keeping a six-foot distance from other individuals.
The rules for non-vulnerable populations include no non-essential gatherings, social distances of at least six feet, not leaving home if sick unless seeking medical care and limiting use of public transportation unless the need is urgent.
Cuomo warned that these are not "helpful hints" but rules which he vows will be enforced.
"These are legal provisions, they will be enforced. There will be a civil fine and mandatory closure for any business that is not in compliance," he said.
As the state's case number is expected to increase, the governor is offering financial assistance to companies who may be able to produce the personal protective equipment needed by those working on the front lines of coronavirus response.
"If you have equipment and personnel, and you believe that you could manufacture these items... they're not complicated," he said. "A mask is not a complicated item to make. A PPE gown is not a complicated item. Gloves, nitrile gloves, are not a complicated item. If you can make them, we will give you funding to do it. And we will give you funding to get the right equipment, to get the personnel. et cetera."
He is also urging any institutions which possess ventilators but are not using them to make them available to the hospitals and health care centers preparing to take on more cases. He likens the need for ventilators in hospitals to the need for missiles in World War II.