Cuomo doubles max fine for breaking social distancing rules

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New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo during a press conference.

Albin Lohr-Jones | Pacific Press | Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday he is doubling to $1,000 the maximum fine for violating the strict social distancing rules meant to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

The reason: Too many New Yorkers aren’t taking the rules seriously, he said.

“It’s not about your life,” Cuomo said at a press conference in Albany. “You don’t have the right to risk someone else’s life.”

“You don’t have the right, frankly, to take health-care staff and people who are literally putting their lives on the line and be cavalier or reckless with them. You just don’t have the right,” Cuomo said.

New York, the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis in the U.S., has struggled to find space, staff and equipment for the thousands of infected patients flooding its hospitals.

The state has worked with the federal government to secure enough temporary medical space, ventilators, protective masks and other crucial infrastructure to deal with the influx. Cuomo said he will ask President Donald Trump later Monday to let the U.S. Navy’s 1,000-bed hospital ship Comfort to be used to treat coronavirus patients.

New York has imposed extreme measures to try to contain transmission of the crisis. Non-essential businesses have been shuttered, in-person gatherings have been banned, and a statewide order has been issued for residents to stay in their homes except for emergencies or essential tasks.

Schools and non-essential businesses will remain closed until at least April 29, Cuomo said.

But the governor lamented at the presser Monday that an increasing number of New Yorkers aren’t following the measures.

“The local governments are charged with enforcement. I want them to enforce” the rules, Cuomo said. “And I want to be frankly more aggressive on the enforcement because all the anecdotal evidence is, people are violating it at a higher rate.”

“There has been a laxness on social distancing, especially over this past weekend that is just wholly unacceptable,” Cuomo continued. “People are dying. People in the health care system are exposing themselves every day to tremendous risk walking into those emergency rooms, and then they have to go home to their family and wonder if they caught the virus and they’re bringing it home to their family.”

“If I can’t convince you to show discipline for yourself then show discipline for other people. If you get infected, you infect someone else, you go to the emergency room, you put a burden on all sorts of other people who you don’t know and who, frankly, you don’t have the right to burden with your irresponsibility,” Cuomo said.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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