Health workers at a new drive-thru COVID-19 testing centre in New Jersey, March 20, 2020. (Reuters)
NEW YORK/ LOS ANGELES – New York and California imposed tough new restrictions, limiting the activity of 60 million people in the two states to curb the spread of the coronavirus and ordering all non-essential workers to stay at home.
In announcing Friday’s action, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pleaded for more medical personnel and supplies to treat coronavirus cases that could overwhelm the hospitals in his state of nearly 20 million.
“This is the most drastic action we can take,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in announcing he would issue an executive order to mandate that 100 per cent of the non-essential workforce stay home and all non-essential businesses close.
“Remain indoors, go outside for solitary exercise,” he said.
The pandemic has upended life in much of the United States, shuttering schools and businesses, prompting millions to work from home, forcing many out of jobs and sharply curtailing travel.
The New York state order would be enforced with civil fines and mandatory closures for any businesses not in compliance, he said. Cuomo said it was not a “shelter in place” order and neither was California’s.
Cuomo said essential services included food suppliers to grocery stores, pharmacies that need drugs, keeping the Internet working, and water and electricity supplies.
New York has 7 102 confirmed cases, 2 950 of which are new. The hospitalisation rate is 18 per cent. Of the state’s cases, 4 408 are in New York City, the most populous US city with about 8.5 million people.
Cuomo pleaded for the manufacture of ventilators and protective masks for an expected surge in cases.