Cuomo: Remaining Schools In NY Will Close For 2 Weeks Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

WCBS 880 Newsroom
March 16, 2020 - 12:00 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — New York State on Monday moved towards a near total shut down as the coronavirus pandemic continued to grow.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo early in the day announced that New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have agreed to a common set of rules that will ban gatherings of 50 people of more, effective 8 p.m. Monday.

The measure closes all casinos, gyms and movie theaters throughout the Tri-State area.

Meanwhile, the governor announced the remaining 14% of schools in the state that were still open would shut on Wednesday for two weeks.

Most of the schools are above Rockland County and Westchester County, where a large cluster of cases is centered in New Rochelle. 

All New York City public schools were closed Monday and schools in Westchester County were set to close by Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo announced Sunday.

Here's a look at the effect coronavirus is having on New York.

TOLL MOUNTS

The number of fatalities in the state reached over seven on Monday morning, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio. 

De Blasio confirmed there were seven deaths are in New York City. The victims vary in age from 82 to 53 and all had preexisting health conditions that placed them in the “at-risk population.”

The Department of Corrections also issued a statement saying one of the victims was a department employee. The person was an investigator who had limited contact with people in custody. 

"We are heartbroken and send our deepest condolences to our colleague’s family, loved ones, and co-workers. As we endure this loss to our community, we will continue to do everything to keep our facilities safe for everyone. Consistent with CDC and DOHMH guidance, anyone who was in close contact with this individual has been notified and appropriate precautions taken," DOC Commissioner Cynthia Brann said in a statement.

At a press conference Monday, Gov. Cuomo also announced the total number of confirmed cases in the state had risen to 950, the most in the nation. He believes the number will continue to grow as testing becomes more widely available.

Cuomo has said he believes thousands of New Yorkers, possibly tens of thousands, already have the disease.

FEDERAL AID SOUGHT

To tide the spread of the virus, Gov. Cuomo has stressed the need for much more hospital and ICU space to house those who will become sickened by the illness.

In an opinion piece published in the New York Times, Cuomo called on President Donald Trump to rally the Army Corps of Engineers to help fight the virus by helping to convert existing facilities into temporary medical facilities.

He called on Trump to authorize states to expand testing capabilities, set federal standards for shutting down commerce and schools, and mobilize the military to bolster medical treatment capabilities.

“States cannot build more hospitals, acquire ventilators or modify facilities quickly enough,” Cuomo wrote, saying the expertise and equipment of the corps of engineers is “our best hope.”

Noting that the state has about 53,000 regular hospital beds and 3,000 intensive care ones, Cuomo said, “3,000 goes very quickly on any projection of these numbers.”

REDUCING DENSITY

Gov. Cuomo continues to say that the best way to reduce the spread of the coronavirus is by reducing density in heavily populated areas.

Already, he’s encouraged companies to allow employees to telecommunicate or work from home if possible.

On Monday, he went a step further by telling privately owned companies to close early if they are non-essential.

“We strongly advise that only services and businesses that are essential stay open after 8 p.m.,” Cuomo said. “Grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, medical facilities.”

Cuomo also wants to stop people from flocking to medical centers and potentially becoming infected, or infecting others.

He says drive-through testing locations will be opening in Rockland County, Long Island and Staten Island – in areas where there is not easily accessible medical care.

A similar program opened in New Rochelle last week.

LAWMAKERS INFECTED

The infected included two members of the New York Assembly, Helene Weinstein and Charles Barron, both Brooklyn Democrats.

Both lawmakers have been absent from Albany since the beginning of the month, but all legislators and staff who came into contact with them will be tested, Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement Saturday.

The Capitol is being cleaned and has been closed to visitors, they said.

(© 2020 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)