'I am not kidding about this.' Cuomo orders all non-essential workers to stay home
Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all non-essential workers in the state to remain home and issued new guidelines on gatherings and mass transit Friday, as coronavirus cases continued to climb.
The governor said an executive order being issued today will put New York state on "PAUSE," short for "Policies that Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone."
Cuomo said 100% of the non-essential workforce must remain home, up from 75% previously. That excludes essential services including grocery stores, pharmacies, internet service and others.
The closure of non-essential businesses, which now includes barbershops, hair salons, tattoo or piercing parlors, nail salons and hair removal services, goes into effect Saturday at 8 p.m.
The governor said Friday that positive cases in New York state have climbed to at least 7,102, including 5,683 in New York City, 1,091 in Westchester, 754 in Nassau and 459 in Suffolk.
Cuomo said elective surgeries and procedures at hospitals will be canceled, likely starting next week, and said multiple sites are under consideration to be used as treatment sites to boost hospital beds. Those sites include CUNY and SUNY schools, including Stony Brook University and SUNY Farmingdale.
The Javits Center in Manhattan is also being considered.
The governor said all non-essential gatherings of any kind are prohibited, and urged people to only take mass transit only when necessary. He said mass transit services will continue to operate in order to transport essential workers.
Cuomo acknowledged that the orders would be disruptive, but said they were necessary in order to help stop the rapid spread of the virus.
"I am not kidding about this," he said, later adding, "I believe these policies will save lives."
Facing potential shortages of essential medical equipment, including masks, gowns and especially ventilators, Gov. Cuomo said the state is asking companies and health facilities to donate any such items they have that are not being used.
"Ventilators are to this war what missiles were to World War II," he said. "We need ventilators. That is the key piece of equipment."
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