Gov. Cuomo to issue executive order requiring New Yorkers to wear masks, coverings in public

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during his daily COVID-19 news conference on Wednesday that he is readying an executive order that will require New Yorkers to wear a mask or mouth/nose covering “where social distancing cannot be maintained.”
He said he expects the public to be on board with the order and help others enforce it. The governor said there could be civil penalties for not wearing a mask in public, but stopped short of any fines.
“We are still in the woods…but we can control the spread,” he said.
Gov. Cuomo said that total hospitalizations in the state continue to decrease, including ICU admissions and intubations. There were 752 deaths related to COVID-19 on April 14 – 707 of them were in hospitals, 45 were in nursing homes.
As he has in other news conference, the governor said that the bridge to a phased reopening of New York hinges on large-scale testing of the public. So far, he says 500,000 people in the state have been tested out of 19 million residents. He said an antibody test was developed by the state Health Department last week and is waiting for FDA approval. According to the governor, it would allow 500,000 tests per week via finger prick.
Gov. Cuomo said “nobody is to blame” for the lack of large-scale testing, but federal assistance is required to make it happen. He said that he does not want to compete against states and the federal government for the many pieces needed to produce a COVID-19 test.
TIMELINE: A look at COVID-19 events since late February:
More notes from the news conference are below:
  • Gov. Cuomo says total hospitalizations are down, including the three-day average. ICU admissions and net change in intubations are also down.
  • "We are still in the woods...We can control the spread."
  • He says there are still about 2,000 people each day that become new COVID-19 cases.
  • There were 752 deaths of New York residents on April 14 due to COVID-19. 707 were in hospitals. 45 were in nursing homes.
  • Gov. Cuomo thanks federal government, health care workers and the health care system for "stabilizing" COVID-19 response. 
  • Gov. Cuomo says the "new normal" could be a better world in terms of public health, social justice and the environment. He says the "bridge to tomorrow" is completed when there is a vaccine for COVID-19. 
  • Gov. Cuomo says he's "all in" in helping federal government create a vaccine and test it in New York. 
  • "Everybody wants to see hydroxychloroquine work. Everybody. The president says he believes it works. But he's not a doctor. Find out." 
  • Gov. Cuomo says the phased reopening of the economy will prioritize public health. He says the "best tool to reopen is large scale testing. Test, trace and isolate."
  • Gov. Cuomo on large scale testing: "We can't do it yet." New York state has done more than 500,000 tests. "That's a large number of tests, but that's over a one month period...You're talking about a state of over 19 million people...We cannot do it without federal support."
  • Last week, the state Health Department announced it had developed its own antibody test. It will begin 2,000 tests per day via a finger prick.
  • New York asked the FDA for expedited approval of an antibody finger prick test that could test up to 100,000 New Yorkers each day. Those tests would be prioritized for first responders/essential workers. 
  • Gov. Cuomo says governors across the nation are in the same boat. There is not a national capacity for massive testing. "It is very hard to bring this to scale quickly." 
  • "There's nobody to blame" for lack of large scale testing." 
  • Gov. Cuomo says federal government has to provide funding to state governments. "That has to be in the next federal legislation."
  • On phased reopening: Gov. Cuomo says factors for reopening will include how essential the business or product is and what the risk of infection spread of the business.
  • "I'm going to issue a executive order that all people in public must have a mask or mouth/nose covering." It must be worn in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained.
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