New York state extends business shutdown, school closure to May 15


People carry toilet paper and groceries on April 16, 2020 in New York City, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. (Photo: AFP)

NEW YORK, April 16 (Xinhua) -- Governor of the U.S. state of New York Andrew Cuomo on Thursday said the state's non-essential businesses shutdown and school closure will be extended to May 15 in an effort to keep reducing the infection rate of COVID-19.

Cuomo said at his daily briefing that this action is taken in consultation with other neighboring states, which will jointly re-evaluate after this additional closure period.

The state has seen a net decrease in total  hospitalizations, intubations and intensive care admissions.  "We have shown that we can control the spread of the virus, but we can't now undo all the progress we've made," he said.

The governor further explained the face-covering order he put forward the day before, saying all people in the state should wear masks or face coverings on public transportation systems and while taking private transportation or riding in for-hire vehicles.

The order applies to anyone age two and older and will take effect Friday night.

The governor reiterated that the state will reopen its economy over the coming weeks in collaboration with other neighboring states, and officials will determine what businesses can be reopened first and how those businesses can ensure the safety of its customers and employees.

"We have to do it in a way that doesn't drive up the infection rate and create a second wave of the virus," he noted.

In New York City, mayor Bill de Blasio said all public pools will remain closed in the summer due to the pandemic, and the city government is still considering whether to open its public beaches.

"I do not want - until we have a much, much better sense of where this is going - I don't want to create a situation where people start gathering," he said.

New York state has seen 223,691 COVID-19 cases and 14,832 deaths, as the country's total cases rose to 667,225 as of Thursday afternoon, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.