BROOKLYN — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says residents should prepare for a possible “shelter in place” order in the next 48 hours — and warns that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases could reach 10,000 by next week. But New York’s governor has denied that a lockdown is in the works.
There are currently 814 confirmed COVID-19 cases in New York City, which has quickly become the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak in a matter of days. Of those confirmed cases, 124 patients are hospitalized, de Blasio said at a press conference Tuesday. Last Thursday, there were just 95 confirmed cases — though officials warned that as testing became more widespread, those numbers would shoot up rapidly.
On Monday night, six Bay Area counties issued shelter in place orders, meaning that residents are required to stay at home unless they’re engaging in “essential activities,” like seeking out medical care, buying groceries, caring for a sick family member in another residence, or walking a dog.
But de Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo appear to be at odds on whether a shelter in place order is needed at this stage. De Blasio first brought up the question of a shelter in place order during an appearance on CNN on Tuesday morning, and said it was a possibility.
But then Gov. Cuomo, in a press conference hours later, seemed to contradict the mayor.
“We hear New York City is going to quarantine itself. That is not true,” Cuomo said. “We have no interest whatsoever, and no plan whatsoever, to quarantine any city.”
De Blasio, at his press conference Tuesday afternoon, doubled down on the possibility of a looming shelter in place order — and acknowledged that he and the governor were at odds on this particular issue. “It’s gotten to the point where a decision has to be made very soon,” de Blasio said.
Cuomo, again, refuted the mayor’s comments during a subsequent interview with NY1. “There’s not going to be any quarantine,” Cuomo said. “There’s not going to be any you-have-to-stay-in-your-house rule, that will just cause people to go somewhere else.”
So far, seven people have died in New York from COVID-19. The highest number of cases are in Manhattan (277), followed by Queens (248), Brooklyn (157), the Bronx (96), and Staten Island (36).
De Blasio did say he felt that Cuomo had handled the crisis very well so far. “We’ve been very aligned on decisions,” the mayor said. “But I don’t hear the word ‘quarantine’ as the exact equivalent as ‘shelter in place.’ ‘Shelter in place’ to me is a way of life, a strategy. Quarantine sounds like when you’re dealing with a specific, narrow area.”
De Blasio acknowledged the city would need to come up with a plan about how to keep people safe and ensure everyone has enough to eat, before issuing a shelter in place order.
However, de Blasio and Cuomo have agreed on the desperate need for additional supplies and hospital beds to accommodate more sick people requiring hospitalization. “This is going to look like a wartime mobilization,” de Blasio said, and called on doctors to volunteer.
Both leaders have called on the federal government to nationalize the industries that manufacture supplies like hand sanitizer, surgical masks, and ventilators.
“The federal government has to ensure that the industries that create those vital supplies are at maximum production and that they’re distributed where they’re needed most, as we do in wartime,” de Blasio said on CNN earlier.
Other developments in New York City include a restriction on ride-sharing services through companies like Uber or Lyft. Under new rules, New Yorkers can only share cars if they already live together or are married.
Effective Monday evening, all bars and restaurants in New York state were asked to shut down, apart from offering delivery or takeout. So far about a dozen states have taken similar actions, in an effort to enforce social distancing and reduce the spread of the virus.
Cover: A nearly empty Times Square due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic , New York, NY, March 17, 2020. (Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)