I write to update you on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Today, I extended our “New York on PAUSE” policy until April 15th. That means non-essential businesses and schools will continue to stay closed. Gatherings of any size for any reason remain canceled and all New Yorkers continue to be directed to practice social distancing — by staying home and keeping six feet of space from others when in public.
Tragically, we have now lost almost a thousand New Yorkers to this vicious virus. We mourn them deeply. Every life lost is one too many. We are fighting to save every life we can. You can help us by staying home and slowing the spread.
As we try to reduce the spread, at the same time we are also preparing for the worst — as we must. We are expanding hospital capacity so that the system is not overwhelmed during the “apex” of the virus — the point at which the number of cases is at its high point. To this end, a 1,000 bed temporary hospital is opening at the Javits Center on Monday, and other temporary hospitals are being built in partnership with FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers. Three COVID-only facilities are also planned.
Also on Monday, the USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship, will arrive in New York Harbor, staffed with 1,200 medical professionals.
I want to take a moment to thank all the workers on the front line of this crisis: the healthcare professionals, the doctors, nurses, EMTs, the firefighters, the police officers, the transit workers and countless others. They are showing up to work every day, risking their lives to help others. There are no words that can convey how deeply grateful our state is for their selflessness, professionalism and bravery. They are heroes.
We know that many New Yorkers are suffering financially because of this pandemic. I want to remind New Yorkers that help is available. Unemployment insurance claims will be backdated to the date New Yorkers became unemployed and eligible New Yorkers will be paid all benefits due. There are also new Paid Leave benefits for those who are subject to an order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19.
These are extraordinary times, and I know that many New Yorkers are anxious and afraid. But with your cooperation and the heroism of our fellow New Yorkers on the front lines we will beat this virus. We will get through this and we will come out even stronger.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo