All New York restaurants, bars, movie theaters to close to public

Original Source: Watertown Daily Times
Posted on March 16, 2020

ALBANY — “Restaurants and bars across the state will close for on-premise services starting at 8 p.m. Monday due to novel coronavirus — or COVID-19 — concerns, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Monday.

The governor is joining moves taken by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont that also includes limiting crowd capacity for social and recreational gatherings to 50 people.

This follows updated guidance that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued yesterday recommending the cancellation or postponement of in-person events consisting of 50 people or more, the governor said in a statement.

Restaurants and bars be allowed to offer take-out or delivery services only. Establishments that serve alcohol will be provided a waiver allowing for carry-out alcohol.

Finally, the three governors said they will temporarily close movie theaters, gyms and casinos, also effective at 8 p.m. Monday.

“Our primary goal right now is to slow the spread of this virus so that the wave of new infections doesn’t crash our healthcare system, and everyone agrees social distancing is the best way to do that,” Gov. Cuomo said. 

With an absence of federal guidance, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order Monday to allow the state to increase hospital capacity after calling on the federal government to equip states with temporary medical centers before hospital beds are overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.

The state will fall back to organize the National Guard, building unions and private developers to identify sites to retrofit existing facilities — such as college dormitories and former nursing homes — and convert them to medical facilities with a goal to create 9,000 additional beds, Cuomo said.

Cuomo also asked local governments to help identify available facilities for this purpose. The state Department of Health suspended regulations to allow existing hospitals to increase space and capacity, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

“We don’t have the billions of dollars that you would need to implement an immediate emergency hospital construction program… This state can’t do it, no state can do it,” Cuomo said during a coronavirus briefing Monday at the state Capitol. “I don’t believe we’re going to be able to flatten the curve enough to meet the capacity of the health care system. So, plan ahead. Plan forward. Anticipate what’s coming down the road and get ready for it.” 

Seven New Yorkers died from COVID-19 as of press time Monday — up from three Sunday, Cuomo said.

The governor announced the state’s first three COVID-19-related deaths over the weekend, including an 82-year-old woman with emphysema who died at a Brooklyn hospital, a 65-year-old Rockland County man and a 79-year-old New York City woman with underlying health problems. The other fatalities each took place in New York City or in downstate counties, state Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said.

“This is what we have been talking about ‘vulnerable populations’… underlying illnesses that can be aggravated by pneumonia,” Cuomo said Saturday, reiterating that senior citizens and people with immune-compromised or other underlying conditions are most at risk.

More details about the residents’ ages, locations and underlying conditions were not available as of press time Monday.

The state will close all New York school districts by Wednesday, Cuomo said, but not without approved plans in place to provide child care for health workers and first responders, educational services and meal programs. Plans for New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester and Rockland counties were required to have plans approved by the state and in place by midnight Tuesday. 

The state had 950 positive cases of COVID-19 as of Monday afternoon with 158 people — or about 17% of cases — hospitalized. Sixty-five patients are in the ICU with 46 intubated, Cuomo said Sunday. Updated numbers were not released as of press time Monday.

Albany County has 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19, McCoy said in an updated statement Monday afternoon — up from 11 positive cases Sunday. One person is receiving hospital care, but the rest are recovering at home.

New York has 53,000 hospital beds and 3,000 ICU beds statewide. The state’s projected numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations and people in intensive care will be thousands short, Cuomo said. Since last week, the governor has outlined potential plans to identify additional and back-up health care staff, reserve doctors and nurses and ways to build more hospital capacity.

“We have 65 [in the ICU] today, and we only have 600,” Cuomo said Sunday. “You need thousands. You’re going to be thousands short. Thousands.” 

The state needs to identify an additional 5,000 beds for New York City, 2,000 beds in Westchester County and 1,000 beds each for Nassau and Suffolk counties, Cuomo said.

“And that is us estimating conservatively at this point,” he added.

In a letter Sunday, Cuomo called on President Donald Trump and the federal government to take comprehensive action to maximize hospital beds and available intensive care by deploying the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to leverage its equipment and staff to retrofit existing facilities — such as military bases or college dormitories — to serve as temporary medical centers. 

Cuomo joined New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont in a joint telephone press conference Monday morning to announce their unified orders to close all bars, restaurants, movie theaters and gyms in the Tri-State area, excluding for take-out orders and delivery.

Last week, Cuomo issued an executive order prohibiting large, public gatherings of 500 people or more and reduced the legal seated occupancy of facilities such as arenas and theaters by 50%. The order did not include schools, hospitals, nursing homes, mass transit facilities, governmental buildings or small private businesses like bars and restaurants.

As of late Monday morning, the state had tested 7,026 people — with 1,754 tests conducted since Sunday afternoon. The state has tested 3,099 people in New York City; 1,820 in Westchester County; 500 in Nassau County; 358 in Suffolk County; 280 people in Albany County; 227 in Saratoga County; 136 in Schenectady County; 82 in Rockland; 86 in Orange; 68 in Erie County; 38 in Dutchess; 32 in Putnam; 23 in Monroe; 12 in Greene; 11 each in Broome and Tompkins counties; nine in Delaware; five in Montgomery; two in Herkimer and Tioga counties, according to Cuomo’s office.

The state’s daily testing capacity increased by the hundreds Friday with the first drive-through mobile testing center in the city of New Rochelle, which has the nation’s largest cluster of the illness. Additional mobile testing facilities are slated to open on Long Island, Staten Island and in Rockland County this week, which will help the state conduct at least 6,000 tests per day, in addition to the testing performed at the 28 public and private labs across the state, according to the governor’s office.

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, D-41, and Assemblyman Charles Barron, D-60, each tested positive for the virus Saturday. Both lawmakers have not been in Albany since the beginning of the month and are recovering at home.

The state Capitol in Albany is closed to visitors indefinitely, Cuomo said, but lawmakers are expected to come to work. The governor does not expect lawmakers to delay passing the state’s proposed 2020-21 executive budget by the April 1 deadline, or to sacrifice reaching an agreement on major issues such as the recreational legalization of marijuana, bail reform or Medicare.

“If we can ask nurses to put on a HazMat suit and take blood, we can ask elected officials to sit at a desk and vote on a piece of legislation,” Cuomo said. “This is why you are in government. This is why you’re here…If you didn’t want to be here, you shouldn’t have run for office. If you didn’t want to fight the war, you shouldn’t have enlisted in the military.

“You’re elected officials — be smart,” the governor added. “There is no higher, more necessary form of public service than what we’re doing now. Do your job.”

All nonessential state employees must work from home starting Tuesday. Local governments are required to reduce their workforce by 50%, Cuomo said. The state has waived all fees in state, local and county parks.

More than 7,000 people have been quarantined in New York since COVID-19 first hit the state. No one placed under mandatory or precautionary quarantine has resisted isolation, the governor said.

By law, no city in the state can close down or quarantine without the governor’s approval, Cuomo said Sunday.

“I will not allow any quarantine of any city or any jurisdiction in the state, so that is not going to happen,” he said. “No one is talking about closing down a geographic location.”

Cuomo asked Greater New York Hospital Association President Ken Raske and Northwell Health President Michael Dowling to lead a council to develop hospital surge capacity.”