Cuomo Extends NY Shutdown To May 15, Sends Ventilators To New Jersey

New York is extending its statewide PAUSE initiative to May 15, as officials believe the risk of a second wave of COVID-19 cases is still too great to begin a phased re-opening.

Governor Andrew Cuomo made the announcement at his daily briefing on Thursday, during which he detailed the state's calculus for determining when the pandemic is truly on the decline.

The governor repeated his declaration that New York's apparent advancement beyond the peak of the outbreak within its borders is a simple function of social distancing measures, not a waning in the virus's infectious potential.

As hospitalizations and intubations (patients being put on ventilators) decrease in New York, Cuomo announced that the state would send 100 ventilators to New Jersey, which is up against its own COVID-19 peak.

New York is also giving 100 surplus ventilators to Michigan and 50 to Maryland.

"If one person infects less than one other person, the disease is on the decline," Cuomo explained. "If one person infects one more person, the rate of infection is stable. ...When you have a situation out of control is when one person infects two people or more, because then the increase is just exponential. And that's fire through dry grass."

Cuomo renewed calls for federal aid to scale testing to make it more widely available. With widespread testing, the state will have more accurate figures about the rate of infection and can respond accordingly to localized outbreaks.

While COVID-19 hospitalizations and intubations are decreasing, the state is still seeing some 2,000 hospital admissions each day due to the pandemic respiratory disease. There were 606 COVID-19 deaths in New York on Wednesday for over 15,600 total COVID-19 deaths and nearly 214,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.

Figures indicate the infection rate in New York currently sits at 0.9 — meaning one person infects less than one other person — but when taking into account margin of error, the rate could be as high at 1.2, above the standard for an outbreak.

Wuhan, China, the city that endured the first deadly wave of COVID-19 cases reported its infection rate at 0.3 before reopening. That is New York's target over the 30 days on PAUSE.

"That rate came down because people changed their behavior," Cuomo said. "It is about the behavior of our people. It's that simple. It's our behavior. It's our discipline."

His executive order requiring New Yorkers to wear masks or face coverings in public when social distancing is not possible goes into effect Friday at 8 p.m.

Cuomo says the joint regional task force on reopening continues to coordinate distancing measures to avoid conflicts between neighboring states, implying that no other state in the group including NY, NJ, CT, PA, RI, MA and DE will reopen before May 15.

Photo: Getty Images

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