ALBANY, N.Y. (AP)—Gov. Andrew Cuomo tightened work-from-home rules Thursday as confirmed cases continued to climb in New York, an expected jump as testing becomes more widespread. But he stressed that roadblocks and martial law for New York City were merely rumors.
New York has confirmed more than 4,000 cases statewide, which Cuomo said was driven by a dramatic increase in testing. New York has cumulatively tested 22,000 people, including more than 7,500 in the past day.
“Why are you seeing the numbers go up?” Cuomo asked at a news conference. “Because you are taking more tests.”
The governor said 8,000 tests for the virus were performed in New York overnight and he expects the number of confirmed cases to go up exponentially.
COVID-19 causes mild symptoms in most people but can cause serious illness for some, including older adults and those with certain conditions such as respiratory illness.
New work restrictions
Cuomo is requiring businesses in New York to decrease their in-office workforce by 75%, tightening a 50% restriction he announced Wednesday.
“That means 75% of the workforce must stay at home, and work from home,” he said.
He said Wednesday that executive order will exempt businesses providing essential services including media, warehouses, grocery and food production facilities, pharmacies, health care providers, utilities and banks, and other industries critical to the supply chain.
No martial law
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that he is not going to impose martial law as he sought to quell what he said was panic over the possibility of New York City residents being told to shelter in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“I’m as afraid of the fear and the panic as I am of the virus, and I think that the fear is more contagious than the virus right now,” Cuomo said on CNN’s “New Day.”
The shelter in place rules in effect in the San Francisco Bay Area since Tuesday allow people to leave their homes for essential tasks like picking up groceries or medicine. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that he was considering imposing such rules in the city, which has recorded at least 11 deaths from COVID-19.
But Cuomo said on CNN that the term shelter in place originated with preparations for nuclear war.
“What it said is people should go into an interior room of their home with no windows, stay there until they get the all clear sign. Now, that’s not what people really mean, but that’s what it sounds like,” Cuomo said. “And I spent half my day knocking down rumors that we’re going to imprison people in their homes, there is going to be a roadblock around New York City.”
Cuomo provided little clarity when CNN’s Alisyn Camerota said it’s hard for people to known whether they should go to a park or stay home to prevent the spread of the virus “on their version of lockdown.”
“I am not going to imprison anyone in the state of New York,” Cuomo said. “I am not going to do martial law in state of New York. That’s not going to happen.”
Canadian-U.S. border likely to close Friday night
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the Canada-U.S. border likely will be closed to all non-essential travel in both directions on Friday night. He says it will take “weeks to months” for social-distancing measures in his country to be lifted.
Both the U.S. and Canada have been in talks in recent days to negotiate a mutual halt to tourism and family visits but leaving the flow of trade intact. Canada relies on the U.S. for 75% of its exports and about 18% of American exports go to Canada. Much of Canada’s food supply comes from or via the U.S.
Trudeau says his government is following the advice of health experts and won’t lift restrictions on public activities and movements in Canada until it is safe to do so. Trudeau made his comments in front of his residence where he is self-isolating after his wife tested positive for the virus. Canada has about confirmed 770 cases and nine deaths.
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