New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday morning that all gatherings of more than 50 people in the state will be suspended until further notice, the latest in a series of crowd-control efforts aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus.
“There will be no more gatherings of 50-plus people, so if you were hoping to plan a graduation party you can’t do it in the state of New York,” Cuomo said at a press conference. “Stay home and order from your favorite restaurant, order from your favorite bar or whatever establishment that you were thinking of patronizing. Just order it and stay home.”
As of 8 p.m. on Monday, March 16, all bars, restaurants, movie theaters, casinos and gyms in the state are closed until further notice by order of the governor, although facilities with take-out services may still supply them. These efforts are part of the latest batch of measures being taken at every level of government and society to help “flatten the curve” of the exponential growth in new cases of COVID-19 appearing as testing for the virus becomes more widely available. These measures are also in effect in New Jersey and Connecticut, a coordinated effort by the governors to prevent what Cuomo called “state shopping,” or the movement of people to states with less restrictive policies in place.
As of Wednesday, there are 276 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nassau County and more than 2,000 in the state.
Leaders at all levels of government have taken extraordinary measures to help promote safety as confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to climb. States of emergency have been declared by the federal government, New York State, Nassau County and the Town of North Hempstead.
The states of emergency allow for the executives in each respective government division to act more swiftly to implement necessary measures, and free up emergency funding to help governments provide necessary services.
All public and private schools in Nassau County are closed for at least two weeks starting Monday, March 16, following an executive order from Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. The Roslyn Public Schools are closed through at least March 27. In announcements sent out to district parents, superintendent Allison Brown urged residents to stay safe, and said the district will move ahead with a transition to a digital-based learning plan in the coming weeks.
“Let me reiterate that gatherings of any kind, even play dates, are counter-productive to the goal of limiting social contact to slow the spread of coronavirus,” Brown wrote in an announcement. “Getting through this crisis will require a community effort. Please continue to practice good hygiene, as recommended by the CDC and other health professionals, and stay healthy.”
All evictions in Nassau County have been suspended temporarily. All Northwell Health hospitals, including North Shore University Hospital, have temporarily suspended elective surgeries. The Northwell laboratory in Lake Success has received approval to test for COVID-19, and that facility is expected to be joined by more in the coming weeks.
Emergency services in the region remain operational.
The Village of East Hills has closed the village hall and all facilities except for the department of public works. While East Hills Mayor Michael Koblenz said he feels the states of emergency declared above the village level will be sufficient to aid East Hills without a declaration of its own.
The upcoming village elections in East Hills, Flower Hill and Roslyn Harbor, originally scheduled for March 18, have been delayed until April 28 by order of the governor. Koblenz had previously expressed concern about holding the elections in the midst of a pandemic.
Village of Flower Hill Deputy Mayor Brian Herrington, who is running to be mayor, announced the Flower Hill Party would be suspending its campaign “for the forseeable future” to limit health risks and focus on combating coronavirus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended suspending gatherings of more than 50 people for at least eight weeks. In a press briefing Monday afternoon, U.S. President Donald Trump advised people avoid gathering in groups of more than 10. The briefing signaled a stark change in tone from the president, who had previously been on record saying the virus was under control and cases in the country would be declining soon. That earlier tone led Cuomo to criticize the federal response to the virus as disjointed and harmful to overall containment efforts.
“This is a national problem and we need federal leadership,” Cuomo said. “It cannot be done in a piecemeal manner. You need federal parameters to stop the national patchwork of density reduction. You see a whole hodgepodge of efforts being taken across the country. It’s chaos, I think it actually feeds the feeling that the country is out of control.”
Experts and officials at all levels of government recommend people wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water, avoid public places whenever possible, cover their mouths when they cough and stay at least six feet away from others to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Anyone who believes they have been in close contact with somebody carrying the virus should contact a doctor, and anybody who can remain at home is advised to do so for 14 days.
Visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/ for the most up-to-date information on the coronavirus and how best to protect yourself and your loved ones.