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Politics & Government

Gov. Cuomo Issues Executive Order Requiring NYers to Wear Masks in Public

Governor Cuomo's Flickr page

Governor Andrew Cuomo is issuing an executive order beginning on Friday to require every New Yorker out in public to wear masks when it’s not possible to practice social distancing.

The governor says the virus claimed 752 lives Tuesday, but the rate of hospitalizations may have already peaked.

The governor says the order, which will be effective in 3 days, requires that all New Yorkers when out in public wear masks or scarves  or bandannas, that cover their nose and mouth when it’s not possible to practice social distancing. 

“Put the mask on,” Cuomo said. “You’re right to go out for a walk in the park… fine, but don’t infect me. You don’t have right to infect me.” 

He says for now, there will be no civil penalties or fines for not wearing a mask, but will consider doing so if people don’t comply.

Cuomo also delivered some good news about the corona virus Wednesday, saying that the rate of hospitalizations may be past the apex, and on the decline with 18,335  in the hospital on Tuesday. But he says the death toll, at 752 on Tuesday, may be even higher, as the state will now be counting probable deaths from COVID 19.

New York City began using the new CDC guidelines to include in their count those who may have died from the virus, but did not go to a hospital. That put the City’s death toll from the pandemic at over 10,000 people.

Cuomo says New York State will now be going back and recounting, to include those who likely died from the corona virus but did not go to a hospital or were unable to get a test.

Cuomo says while he is eager to restart the economy, no one should expect that things will go back to the way they were before the pandemic. He says it will be a gradual reopening with many safety precautions. 

The governor says criteria will include how essential the business is, and how high risk is the business for spread of infection. He says companies can make adjustments to make their workplaces safer, when they are allowed to reopen.

Businesses can start to redesign their work places,” said Cuomo.

But Cuomo says a phased reopening won’t be safe without more testing and contact tracing. He says there are lots of testing obstacles, including not enough equipment like swabs, and vials. He says test kits are made by private companies and involve an international supply chain.

The governor says only the federal government can bring testing “to scale”, the states cannot do it on their own, and he urged the Trump Administration to act.

In the meantime, New York is seeking FDA approval for a finger prick anti body test, that could test up to 100,000 people a day, that the governor says will be  prioritized for health care workers.

Cuomo says nothing will be truly safe until there’s a vaccine, in 12 to 18 months.