Cuomo extends stay-at-home order until May 15
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday extended the stay-at-home order for New York residents through May 15.
He also reminded everyone in the state that the requirement to wear a mask while out in public begins at 8 p.m. Friday.
Cuomo said the stay-in-place orders and businesses and school closures will remain in effect for another month. While the daily death toll of 606 on Wednesday is down from previous days, 2,000 more people were admitted to the hospital with COVID-19, and 17,735 are still in the hospital with the disease.
The governor said he’s received some blowback on the requirement announced Wednesday that masks will be required while out in public starting Friday evening. But he said health experts now believe that they help reduce spread of the virus.
“I’m sorry it makes people unhappy,” Cuomo said. “I do not consider it a major burden, and it really is a simple measure that can save lives.”
The masks will be required where social distancing is not possible, as well as on public transportation, like buses or subways, and while driving or riding in an Uber or Lyft vehicle.
Cuomo said when it is time to reopen some businesses and allow for more public activities, it will have to be done in a carefully calibrated manner. He said because of the stay-at-home orders, the virus is likely being transmitted at a rate of 0.9%, which means for every person who gets sick, they give it to slightly less than one other person, on average.
He said if opening businesses or allowing more people to congregate brings that ratio up to even 1.2% -- meaning each sick person infects, on average, slightly more than one other person -- then the spread could increase exponentially, and the health care system could start to get overwhelmed again.
The governor said he is not left with “a lot of wiggle room.”
“You start to turn that valve,” Cuomo said. “You see that number going up, turn the valve back right away.”
He said businesses can make modifications to keep things safe, by continuing to have some employees work from home and rearranging seating to keep people 6 feet away from each other.
Meanwhile, a survey of business leaders in New York, conducted by Siena College for the Business Council of New York State, found that the majority of CEOs want to reopen as soon as possible -- but only when public health officials determine that it is safe to do so.
Siena’s Don Levy said the poll asked the business leaders about the May 1 reopening date that President Donald Trump has pushed for in recent days.
“A majority, 57%, said public health, but still a sizeable minority, 35%, said it’s time to reopen,” Levy said.
Levy said CEOs in manufacturing, engineering and construction were the most likely to say it’s time to get back to work.
The majority of the business leaders, 61%, approve of the social distancing rules that have been put into effect by Cuomo.
Most business leaders are “bracing for a very long haul” in an economic recovery, Levy said. Only about a third of the leaders foresee their companies recovering in the next six months, while most think it will be sometime next year.
Forty percent have laid off workers, with 10% saying they expect they'll have to furlough more workers this summer. About 90% of the employers, though, remain optimistic about their future and say they plan to still be in business a year from now.
Nearly all of them said, though, that they are relying on assistance from federal and state governments in the form of grants and tax breaks to help them get through. Three-quarters say they are trying to take advantage of the Small Business Administration’s paycheck protection loan program, although it's already running out of money.