ALBANY — As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases goes up, Gov. Andrew Cuomo orders the number of employees in offices across the state to go down.
In today’s morning press conference, Cuomo ordered offices to reduce the number of employees to 25 percent, excluding food, pharmacies, healthcare, shipping, supplies and other essential services. The order followed a moment of introspection from the governor whose state continues to have the most confirmed cases in the union.
“The stress, the emotion, is just incredible, and rightfully so,” said Cuomo. “It is a situation that is one of the most disruptive that I have seen, and it will change almost everything going forward. It will. That is a fact. It’s not your perception. It’s not just you. It’s all of us and it’s true and it’s real.”
According to John Hopkins University, there are 10,755 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United State, 4,152 of them are in New York State.
The state has pushed for a density reduction effort in an attempt to “flatten the curve,” or to proactively reduce a possible surge upon local hospitals. On Monday, the workforce reduction was ordered at 50 percent.
Shopping malls which have remained open, unlike bars and restaurants ordered closed earlier in the week, are ordered to close indefinitely by 8 p.m. tonight.
Cuomo also ordered mortgage relief for financial hardship related to COVID-19. The order includes the waiving of the overdraft, ATM and credit card fees, and 90-day mortgage relief.
Mortgage payments would be waived based on financial hardship, and it includes a grace period for loan modification. Other features include no late payment fees and no negative reporting to credit bureaus. Foreclosures are also postponed or suspended.
“Nobody can tell you when this is going to end,” Cuomo said. “Nobody can tell you. I talked to all the experts. Nobody can say two months, four months, nine months – nobody.”
In related state news:
- Cuomo signed the bill guaranteeing job protection and pay for New Yorkers who have been quarantined as a result of novel coronavirus.
- Exemptions from the office space density reduction order will include shipping, media, warehousing, grocery and food production, pharmacies, healthcare providers, utilities, banks and related financial institutions.
- Retail shopping malls, amusement parks and bowling alleys to close by 8 PM Thursday in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
- The USNS Comfort, a 1,000-bed hospital ship, will be deployed to New York harbor to increase New York’s hospital surge capacity.
- Cuomo signed an executive order directing all schools in New York to close by Wednesday, March 18 for two weeks ending April 1.
- Casinos, gyms, theaters are closed until further notice.
- Bars and restaurants are closed, but takeout can be ordered during the period of closure.
- All local governments must reduce their workforce by at least 50 percent. Non-essential state workers are working from home.
- New York State is waiving all park fees in state, local and county parks.
- Testing is free for all eligible New Yorkers as ordered by a health care provider.