Cuomo orders 75% of non-essential workforce to stay home as cases surge


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered 75% of the workforce in non-essential services to stay at home, approved mortgage relief and took other measures Thursday as the number of coronavirus cases across the state surged to 4,152 — with 1,769 new infections confirmed overnight.

Due to the spike in COVID-19 cases, Cuomo ordered 75% of the workforce in non-essential services to stay at home, a 25% increase from a day earlier. Essential services include businesses dealing with food, pharmacies, healthcare, shipping and supplies.

Cuomo also said that he would waive mortgage payments based on financial hardships, such as people who were laid off or work part-time, for 90 days. Foreclosures in the state would also be postponed or suspended, he said.

“This is a real-life benefit, people are under tremendous economic pressure. Making a mortgage payment can be one fo the number one stressors. Eliminating that stressor for 90 days I think will go a long way,” Cuomo said during a press briefing in Albany. “We’ll reassess as the situation goes on if that should be extended or not,”

“These are major shifts in life, in the most emotional, stressful conditions that you can imagine,” Cuomo added.

Earlier in the day, Cuomo said he was concerned about approving a “shelter-in-place” order for New York City that Mayor Bill de Blasio is pushing for, adding, “I spent half my day knocking down rumors that we’re going to imprison people in their homes.”

“I’m as afraid of the fear and the panic as I am of the virus and I think that the fear is more contagious than the virus right now,” he told CNN.

De Blasio said he likes the “shelter-in-place” order public officials implemented in Northern California earlier this week.

Northern California officials announced Monday a “shelter-in-place” order that will affect nearly 7 million residents of six counties in the Bay Area as the region tries to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. The order asks all residents of six Bay Area counties, including San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa and Alameda, to remain home as much as possible. They’re allowed to venture out to go to the grocery store, pharmacy and for other essential services.

New York state is the hardest-hit region in the country. Cuomo and other tri-state area officials on Monday banned all gatherings of 50 or more people and placed restrictions on restaurants, bars and other places of recreation in an attempt to slow the outbreak.

Cuomo has said he worries the outbreak will stretch U.S. hospitals to their maximum capacity, saying the nation doesn’t have enough hospital beds to handle a pandemic.

“We don’t have the capacity in the hospitals, we don’t the ventilators, you can’t find enough ventilators,” Cuomo said Wednesday. “I have people in China right now trying to buy ventilators.”

He said Thursday that New York health officials have three main priorities: “Flatten the curve [and] slow the spread, increase the current hospital capacity, identify new hospital beds.”

Cuomo announced Wednesday that President Donald Trump agreed to send a floating hospital to help the state manage an onslaught of expected coronavirus cases. Cuomo doubled the number of projected hospital beds and revised the hospitalization rate from his estimates on Tuesday, when he said the state needed 55,000 hospital beds for COVID-19 patients and said the hospitalization rate was 19%.


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