“How many people does one person infect?” That’s the rhetorical question that New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo asked during his daily press briefing on April 15, which will need to be answered in the coming weeks in order for the state to even think about reopening. “[Figuring that out] is the difference between a manageable situation and a pandemic,” he said. To that end, as of today, Cuomo said he would be signing an executive order declaring that all New Yorkers must now wear a mask covering their nose and mouth when in public.
The idea here is that people would wear the face masks in situations where they were not able to maintain social distancing with others—in other words, if you’re going to be in public and around others—anyone—then you need to be wearing a mask. Cuomo drove the concept home this way: “You’re right to go out for a walk in the park…[but] you don’t have a right to infect me.”
New Yorkers are being given three days to comply with the new executive order, which goes into effect on Friday morning.
This comes on the heels of news over the last two days that the COVID-19 death toll had once again risen into the 700s, with a total of 778 deaths reported on April 13 and 752 on April 14. New York State still has the most active cases of the virus, with more than 200,000, with more than 11,000 deaths to date.
In his April 13 briefing, Cuomo made mention of the potential for reopening the state, but only if the state was able to control the infection rate, have regular testing in place and the ability, 12-18 months down the line, to have a vaccine. (Johnson & Johnson says it could have 900 million vaccines ready for public use by April 2021.)