New York Governor Andrew Cuomo orders 100% of workforce to stay home

March 20, 2020, 4:02 PM UTC

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered everyone except essential service workers to stay home as the state continues to battle the coronavirus outbreak.

The aggressive action, which could have far-reaching effects on the economy, comes as the total number of infected New Yorkers hits 7,102—a jump of 2,950 in one day. Most infections are centered in New York City. A total of 35 people have died in the state.

Employees of grocery stores, pharmacies, and major retailers like Walmart will still be allowed to go to work. Food services and delivery are also considered essential. The public transportation systems will remain operational, said Cuomo.

Last year, the state’s annual private sector job count reached 8,297,000, a record high.

“Why is New York taking these drastic actions? We know what a locality does matters,” said Cuomo. “These actions will cause disruption. They will cause businesses to close…They will cause much unhappiness. I understand that…And I accept full responsibility. If someone wants to blame someone, blame me. There is no one else responsible for this decision.”

The announcement comes days after New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told residents to prepare for a “shelter in place” order. Cuomo resisted that initially, saying he does not like the term “shelter in place” as it is typically used with school or work shooters and can panic people.

The news follows similar action meant to contain the virus in San Francisco, which affected 7 million people.

“There can be mandatory closures for businesses that don’t comply,” Cuomo said. “I am not kidding about this.”

People who venture out are expected to remain 6 feet apart, wash their hands, cover their coughs or sneezes, and abide by a number of other restrictions. Nonessential businesses across the state, including wineries and bars, will be closed. But essential services such as grocery stores, banks, pharmacies and cannabis shops will remain open.

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