Four northeastern states are entering a joint-action designed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in the region.
New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania have announced a sweeping plan of restrictions on businesses to encourage social distancing.
As of 8 p.m. Wednesday, per the order:
- No business in any of the four states can have more than 50 percent of its workforce report to work outside their home.
- Essential services are exempt, including pharmacies, groceries and delivery services.
- Crowd capacity must not exceed 50 people. Restaurants and bars may only offer takeout or delivery; no dining in.
- Casinos, gyms and movie theaters must close.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo again on Wednesday preached caution against panic in response to the outbreak, noting that the COVID-19 is treated just like the flu. The virus is much more contagious than the flu, however, meaning elderly people and people with compromised immune systems are at much greater risk.
There are encouraging examples elsewhere in the world that suggest an early and sweeping response to the virus goes a long way towards limiting deaths and strain on medical workers.
Cuomo has repeatedly called for aid from the federal government in response to the region's outbreak, noting the need for hospital beds and ventilators as novel coronavirus infections peak over the next six weeks.
He reported Wednesday that the federal government is sending a hospital ship to New York, the USNS Comfort, which will provide about 1,000 additional hospital rooms to New York City.
"Hospital beds are what we need," Cuomo noted in a Tweet announcing the aid.
Just before noon Wednesday, New York State reported 2,382 total coronavirus cases in the state and 1,339 cases in New York City.
Cuomo added that a 'shelter-in-place' order is "no longer on the table" at this time due to concerns about its efficacy versus its potential negative impact.
He added that if officials find the joint agreement between NY, NJ, CT and PA is not working well enough, they would consider enacting more restrictions.
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