If it wasn’t already obvious, we’re going to be stuck at home for a lot longer than originally expected. With his work-from-home executive order having already been extended to April 29, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has updated it to May 15.
But Cuomo’s message today (April 15) was almost altogether positive. As the state continues to flatten the curve, total hospitalizations, ICU admissions and daily intubations are all down, with a sizable dip in the number of COVID-19-related deaths (yesterday’s total was 606 compared to the previous day’s total of 752). According to Cuomo, the decreases in all the major data-points mean that New York’s “PAUSE” has been working (though, it’s worth noting that 2,000 people are daily being diagnosed with COVID-19 still).
On the economy reopening front, the keys to that happening in the future are: the ability to control the rate of infection (New York’s is currently at 0.9 percent; Wuhan, China, was able to get that number down to 0.3 percent before easing things back to normalcy); the continued strengthening of the already united state healthcare system, ability to both regularly test and trace the virus; and the phasing in of a newly defined list of “essential” businesses. What businesses will be deemed “essential”—beyond the list of businesses that have already been deemed as such—will be based on how safe the job is. (In other words, those businesses at which we will easily be able to socially distance and, in turn, curb the spread of the disease.) Those safer businesses will be given priority over others. Of course, this also uncovers a number of equally important questions: Once people are back in the office, how will they socially distance? Is transportation to their job safe? Can they get through a work week without a conference? Will it be possible to continue telecommuting? “This is a moment of transformation for society,” said Cuomo.
Lastly, Cuomo addressed his new executive order, which states that people have to wear face masks covering their nose and mouth in public (when not practicing social distancing). He drilled down on some of the types of places where it would immediately be required: on public transportation, private transportation and in for-hire vehicles. This would also include the operator of said vehicles. “It’s not about government or anything else,” said Cuomo. “It’s about what people decide to do and what people have decided to do. They have brought this infection rate down. It’s that simple.”