New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday the state’s stay-at-home order will be extended until at least May 15 as he warned that any change in behavior could reignite the spread of coronavirus.
“New York State on Pause,” the state’s social distancing plan, will be extended in coordination with other states. New York is part of a regional pact of northeastern states that have banded together to map out a plan for loosening these restrictions in the coming months while minimizing infections and deaths.
The stark limits on non-essential activities could extend beyond May 15, Cuomo said.
“What happens after then, I don’t know. We will see depending on what the data shows,” he said.
The rates of hospitalization, ICU admission and intubation in the state are all decreasing, Cuomo said. The total number of people hospitalized also declined, an indication that New York may have passed the peak of its outbreak.
“The good news is we can control the virus … we can control the spread,” he said.
Still, more than 600 people died in the state on Wednesday, pushing New York’s total to over 12,000 deaths from coronavirus. He warned that the virus’s spread could again increase if people do not follow stay-at-home policies that ban non-essential activities and have closed much of public life.
New York’s estimated infection rate, technically known as the “R-nought,” is at about 0.9, Cuomo said. A number over 1 means that the virus will spread to more and more people, while any number under 1 means that the virus’s spread is decreasing.
He said that 0.9 stat means that New York is only slightly decreasing the spread, and any change in public behavior could bring the infection rate back up.
“That does not leave you a lot of wiggle room,” he said.
Increasing testing is a key part of the regional plan to reopen the states. Cuomo reiterated his appeal for the federal government to help increase testing in New York in a call with the White House Thursday morning. The state performed 500,000 tests in 30 days – more than California, Florida, and Michigan combined – but “the plain reality here is” states need federal assistance, Cuomo said.
“If we work together we can do better than any of us alone,” he said.
On Wednesday, Cuomo said that New Yorkers must wear masks when in public and unable to socially distance, such as on the subway or in a crowded grocery store.