Governor Andrew Cuomo has extended the mandatory closure of all non-essential businesses and the ban on gatherings in New York for another two weeks, through April 15. That time period includes the Passover and Easter holidays. Cuomo also says he’s convinced the governor of Rhode Island to call off a policy of using that state’s police force to question New Yorkers who enter Rhode Island and forcing them to quarantine.
Cuomo says he knows it will be difficult, but as the rate of the virus in New York continues to climb, it seems necessary to extend the ban through the spring holidays.
“It’s hard,” Cuomo said.
But he says in the city of New Rochelle, New York’s first coronavirus hotspot, people attending religious services helped spread the virus.
“Density is the enemy here,” he said.
Cuomo says he knows many New Yorkers feel “under attack” right now.
On Saturday, President Donald Trump said he was considering quarantining New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The governor, in an appearance on CNN Saturday likened the move to a civil war. Trump later walked the proposal back. There is now a travel advisory, recommended by the CDC and agreed to by Cuomo and the governors of the other two states against people leaving the three states if they don’t have to.
“This is not a lockdown,” Cuomo said. “It’s nothing that we haven’t been doing. Non-essential people should stay home.”
In addition, Rhode Island instituted a policy of using its state police to stop cars with New York license plates and to ask them to quarantine for two weeks if they stay in the state. Cuomo says he convinced Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo to rescind that order.
The governor says he is still working on getting enough personal protective equipment for hospital workers and is expanding hospital bed capacity as the number of people with the virus continues to climb.
He says he’s started to talk to hospitals outside of the New York City area, where the disease is expected to peak later, to try to coordinate responses between public and private hospitals, who often work independently of one another.
“This is going to be all hands on deck,” he said. "This is everybody helping everyone else. One hospital gets overwhelmed, the other hospitals have to flex to help that hospital and vice versa."
He says upstate hospitals may need to take overflow patients from New York City, in the coming weeks. And when the virus recedes downstate, those hospitals could help out with overflow patients in upstate regions later on in the spring.
Also, over the weekend, Cuomo said the April 28 presidential primary will be postponed until June 23.
The state budget is due April 1, and Cuomo predicts that it will contain “drastic cuts” that he says have never been seen before in a state spending plan, as the effects of the corona virus devastate New York’s finances.
The governor says a federal bailout package will immediately provide $5 billion to hospitals for care of COVID-19 patients, but he continues to complain that a Medicaid funding package is too small, and would not allow him to make planned changes to the state’s Medicaid program. One of those changes would have required local governments to pay more for the health care program.
Cuomo says the bigger problem will be school funding. But he says he can’t “paper over” the bad news. And he says the economic recovery will be long and complicated.
“I believe we have to actually have to deal with the numbers that are presented,” Cuomo said. “Like every family in this state has to deal with the numbers. Everybody’s income is down.”
The governor’s budget director, Robert Mujica, says the state will have to borrow money just to get through the first quarter of the new fiscal year, because the April 15 tax filing date for state and federal taxes has been extended to July 15.