New York will extended school closures by two weeks to April 15 as the state continues to see an increase in coronavirus cases, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced Friday.
“When you look at the number of cases that’s still increasing, it only makes sense to keep the schools closed,” Cuomo told reporters during his daily press briefing on his state’s efforts to combat the outbreak. The governor said the state has confirmed an additional 7,377 new cases overnight, boosting the total number of cases to 44,635. New York City has over 25,300 of such cases. One hundred thirty-four New York City residents have died due to the disease and 519 have patients have died statewide.
“We want to see the rate slowing and then we want to see the number of cases going down or flattening,” Cuomo said, before urging hospitals to double their capacity from 53,000 hospital beds to over 100,000. “We’re asking hospitals to try to increase capacity 100% … We’re looking at converting dorms. We’re looking at converting hotels,” the governor stated.
“This is an invisible beast. This is an insidious beast,” he added.
As of Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is setting up temporary hospitals at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center to increase capacity.
The governor also announced he had issued orders closing New York City parks and playgrounds to counter a trend of crowds gathering there while the city is on lockdown. To provide residents with safer options for exercise and being outdoors, he said he was in negotiations with the city to close certain streets to car traffic.
“People want to walk. They want to go out and get some air. You want a less dense area, so [we’ll] pilot closing streets to cars, opening streets to pedestrians,” Cuomo said.
Addressing a pending $2 trillion economic stimulus bill pending before Congress, Cuomo said the amount going to New York was a “drop in the bucket” compared to the massive need created by the pandemic.
The plan now under consideration by the U.S. Senate would send $3.8 billion to the state and less than $2 billion to the city, while under a House version, the state would get $17 billion.
Although $3.8 billion “sounds like a lot of money,” Cuomo said, “we’re looking at a revenue shortfall of $9 billion, $10 billion, $15 billion. This response to this virus has probably already cost us $1 billion.”
The UPI contributed to this report.