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Cuomo: New York businesses required to keep 50% of workforce home

The governor says New York will temporarily close all indoor portions of retail shopping malls, amusement parks and bowling alleys at 8 p.m. Thursday.

ALBANY, N.Y. — To further prevent the spread of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is imposing new requirements across New York State.

On Wednesday, Cuomo ordered a mandatory statewide requirement implementing work-from-home policies for nonessential businesses. Cuomo says businesses that rely on in-office personnel must decrease their in-office workforce by 50 percent by Friday.

Later in the day, Cuomo announced that New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New Jersey "will temporarily close all indoor portions of retail shopping malls, amusement parks and bowling alleys" effective 8 p.m. Thursday.

Essential services are exempt from the 50 percent business requirement. This includes shipping, media, warehousing, grocery and food production, pharmacies, health-care providers, utilities, banks and related financial institutions, and other industries critical to the supply chain.

Cuomo says if this does not slow the spread of the coronavirus, the workforce will be reduced even further.

During the media conference Cuomo also updated the amount of cases confirmed in New York State.

As of Wednesday morning there are 1,008 new positive cases of COVID-19 in New York State, bringing the total cases in the state to 2,382. Cuomo says this is the highest amount of cases in the United States, with 549 people currently hospitalized. Twenty people have died from the virus.

Cuomo says more than 14,000 tests have been administered in the state.

The number of hospitalizations are also going up. At this time, roughly 23 percent of the people with COVID-19 in New York are hospitalized.

However, the governor added that 108 people have already recovered and been released from the hospital.

Cuomo also met with President Donald Trump on Wednesday morning, saying he's fully engaged about helping New York. 

Cuomo says the federal government is sending the USNS Comfort, a hospital ship, to New York. The hospital ship has about 1,000 rooms on it, providing the hospital beds that New York State currently needs.

"We are fighting a war against this pandemic and we know that two of the most effective ways to stop it is by reducing density and increasing our hospital capacity so our healthcare system is not overwhelmed," Cuomo said. "The deployment of the USNS Comfort to New York is an extraordinary but necessary step to help ensure our state has the capacity to handle an influx of patients with COVID-19 and continue our efforts to contain the virus.

"Partnering with the private sector to require nonessential employees to work from home will also go a long way toward bending the curve. My number one priority is protecting the public health so that a wave of new cases doesn't crash our hospital system, and we will continue taking any action necessary to achieve that goal."

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