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New York governor announces ‘100% workforce reduction’ for non-essential services

Brian Heater

Update: The full order, including exceptions, is available here

In a press conference today, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced orders for residents to stay at home amid rising COVID-19 concerns. The governor was careful to avoid terms like “shelter in place” during the otherwise typically blunt presser, but noted a “100% workforce reduction,” with the exclusion of services deemed essential. The rules take effect Sunday evening. 

“This is the most drastic action we can take,” Cuomo said, following yesterday’s lead of California Governor Gavin Newsom. Cuomo went on to note that things like “solitary exercise” would be excluded from the ruling, but the state will be aggressive in making sure that citizens adhere to the rules. Mass transit will remain operational and restaurants, food delivery and banks will remain in service. Cuomo wasn't able to answer a question about laundry services, but the state will make a full list of exceptions available this afternoon. 

The state is asking ISPs to increase data bandwidth at no charge to address increased needs from users actively social distancing.

“These are legal provisions,” Cuomo said. “They will be enforced.” The state will issue fines for those "non-essential" businesses that fail to abide by the decision. "I am not kidding about this," he added. There is currently no plan in place to penalize individuals for gathering socially, and exceptions will be included to allow people to leave their homes for physical and mental health purposes.  

Cuomo noted some fairly staggering numbers about the virus's spread. There are currently some 2,900 cases in the state -- all have been diagnosed at some point over the last 16 days. Thirty-five people have died from the virus, primarily senior citizens. "The number one challenge is we need 30,000 ventilators," Cuomo explained. "Everything else is secondary." The state, which has already begun manufacturing its own hand sanitizer, will be supporting local industry that can create useful healthcare products like masks.

New York City, which has already hit capacity at many hospitals, is relaxing regulations for patient numbers, while looking to schools in the SUNY and CUNY system, along with the Javits Center convention center. Cuomo will also be putting in place a 90-day moratorium on all commercial and residential evictions, a sweeping move for the home of the biggest city in the U.S.

The provisions are in place indefinitely, with Cuomo adding that it could last, "two, three, four months."