(Natural News) New York is now under a state of emergency after coronavirus cases in the state surged to an all-time high of 8,299 this week.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made the announcement during a press conference Friday.
According to Cuomo, 5,683 of the confirmed cases are from New York City, and that 38 of the state’s cases have been confirmed to have died.
The rising number of cases is attributed to an increase in testing, with the governor pegging the total number of coronavirus tests performed in the state at 32,427 as of press time.
According to state health authorities, the hospitalization rate for those who tested positive for the coronavirus in New York is currently at 18 percent. The infection rate, however, is still unknown.
“Why are you seeing the numbers go up? Because you are taking more tests,” Cuomo said, noting that New York is now testing more people per capita than either China or South Korea.
The state of New York now accounts for 40 percent of the entire number of coronavirus cases in the United States.
As a response to the exponential rise in positive cases in the state, Cuomo has ordered that 100 percent of New York’s workforce – excluding those who work in essential services – be sent home. This is a further tightening of Cuomo’s previous edict, which ordered businesses to maintain a skeletal workforce and allow 75 percent of their employees to work from home.
In addition, Cuomo also ordered the cancellation of all non-essential public gatherings, regardless of the number of attendees.
Cuomo’s new initiative, “New York State on PAUSE” – which stands for “Policies that Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone” – takes effect Sunday evening and is seen to tighten previous work-from-home exemptions on businesses that provide certain services, such as media, grocery stores, pharmacies, health care providers, utilities, gas stations, banks, and warehouses. Restaurants and bars will also remain open during what has been dubbed as the “Pause” period, provided that they focus solely on takeout.
“This is the most drastic action we can take,” Cuomo said, noting that while his new orders will cause disruption and are not likely going to be easy for the state’s residents, they are necessary to protect “the health and safety of New Yorkers and all Americans.”
“They will cause businesses to close. They’ll cause employees to stay at home. I understand that. They will cause much unhappiness. I understand that also.”
“I accept full responsibility. If someone is unhappy, if somebody wants to blame someone, or complain about someone, blame me. There is no one else who is responsible for this decision,” Cuomo, a Democrat, said.
Cuomo’s pronouncements came after several state and city officials – including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio – called for the imposition of a shelter-in-place directive similar to the one first imposed by Governor Gavin Newsom on California, earlier this week.
As per Cuomo’s directive, while people under the age of 70 are still advised to “remain indoors to the greatest extent,” they may still go out of their residences to exercise and participate in “non-contact” physical activities in addition to their essential tasks, such as procurement of groceries and medication and other basic chores. However, they are strictly advised to maintain social distancing, or staying six feet away from others.
Cuomo also clarified that while mass transit will keep running, people should not use it unless absolutely necessary. Roads, meanwhile, will remain open.
Stricter prohibitions are in place for people who are over 70, however.
According to Cuomo, people aged 70 and older – as well as those who have compromised immune systems or have underlying illnesses – are advised to wear protective masks when in the company of others. They are also not allowed to visit households with multiple people.
In addition to Cuomo’s new rules for the state, the Army Corps of Engineers has also sent several of its service members to tour hotels in New York City. These service members have been tasked with converting up to 10,000 vacant rooms into temporary hospital rooms amid the coronavirus outbreak. (Related: Navy “floating hospital” to dock in New York – Cuomo.)
According to General Todd Semonite, the Corps’ commander, they have identified several empty hotels, as well as the Javits Convention Center on Manhattan’s Far West Side, as potential candidates for conversion.
Semonite said Cuomo wants the Corps to help build temporary hospitals, as he believes the state will suffer a disastrous shortage of hospital beds, particularly intensive-care beds, should the coronavirus outbreak further escalate.
According to Cuomo, the current hospital bed capacity in New York state is about 50,000, with only about 3,000 delegated for Intensive Care patients.
As of this writing, 276,105 have been confirmed to be infected by COVID-19 globally, while 11,402 have been confirmed dead. The virus’ death rate is currently pegged at 11 percent.