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N.Y. Gov. Cuomo Orders Public Mask Use To Curb COVID-19 Spread

People in New York now have to wear face coverings when they are unable to stay 6 feet from others, such as when riding the subway.
Seth Wenig
People in New York now have to wear face coverings when they are unable to stay 6 feet from others, such as when riding the subway.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has joined other states and ordered people in New York to wear face coverings in public when they can't remain 6 feet apart, in order to protect the gains his state has made against the coronavirus.

Despite fatalities still reaching more than 700 daily, Cuomo said the outbreak has stabilized and the danger of overwhelming the health system seems to have passed. Cuomo said he would never forget all the help New York received, and he announced he'd be sending 100 ventilators to Michigan and 50 to Maryland.

After New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that grocery stores could now require all customers to wear masks, the governor went further, ordering everyone in the state to wear something to cover their nose and mouth any time they can't stay 6 feet apart. Cuomo said for now, the rule would be enforced without fines.

"People will enforce it. They'll say to you, if they're standing next to you on a street corner, 'Where's your mask, buddy?' in a nice New York kinda way," he said.

Cuomo said he hopes to begin a phased reopening of the state's economy, allowing businesses to open based on how essential they are, measured against how risky the nature of the business is for transmission of the virus. But Cuomo warned life won't get back to even a "new normal" until a vaccine or medical treatment proves effective — as long as 18 months from now.

Both Cuomo and de Blasio said the federal bailout so far was inadequate for New York, which de Blasio said may have lost $10 billion in revenue. Cuomo said the national recovery can't happen without New York.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Quil Lawrence is a New York-based correspondent for NPR News, covering veterans' issues nationwide. He won a Robert F. Kennedy Award for his coverage of American veterans and a Gracie Award for coverage of female combat veterans. In 2019 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America honored Quil with its IAVA Salutes Award for Leadership in Journalism.