Cuomo says he won’t approve coronavirus ‘shelter-in-place’ order for New York City

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks to the media and tours a newly opened drive through COVID-19 mobile testing center on March 13, 2020 in New Rochelle, New York.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he won’t approve a “shelter-in-place” order for New York City, a day after Mayor Bill de Blasio told residents to prepare for one.

“That is not going to happen, shelter in place, for New York City,” Cuomo said on The Daily podcast by The New York Times. “For any city or county to take an emergency action, the state has to approve it. And I wouldn’t approve shelter in place.”

Cuomo said that such drastic policies would create more fear amid the COVID-19 outbreak, which has now infected more than 6,500 people across the U.S. and killed at least 115, according to Johns Hopkins University. With 1,717 confirmed infections, New York state has more cases than any other state in the country. However, Cuomo has said the true number is likely much higher due to limited testing capacity and stringent federal guidelines over who’s eligible for diagnostic testing.

“Quarantine in place, you can’t leave your home,” Cuomo said. “The fear, the panic is a bigger problem than the virus.”

On Tuesday, de Blasio told residents to prepare for a potential “shelter-in-place” order that could come within 48 hours. A decision cannot be made without the support of the state, de Blasio said Wednesday morning on NBC’s “TODAY,” adding that the virus has now infected nearly 1,000 people in New York City.

“Get ready for the possibility, it’s a decision we would only make with the state of New York, of course, but people have to realize at this point that this disease is going to put many, many people, thousands, tens of thousands of people’s lives in danger,” de Blasio said Wednesday on NBC.

Without meaningful federal intervention, local leaders across the country have adopted what Cuomo called Monday a “hodgepodge” of actions to contain the outbreak. Cuomo and other tri-state area officials on Monday banned all gatherings of 50 or more people and placed restrictions on restaurants, bars and other places of recreation.

What is shelter in place?

Other state officials followed suit and San Francisco Bay Area officials ordered some 7 million residents to shelter in place on Monday, prohibiting people from leaving their homes, except under “limited circumstances,” according to the order. 

People who venture out are expected to remain six feet apart, wash their hands, cover their coughs or sneezes and abide by a number of other restrictions. Nonessential businesses across California, including wineries and bars, will be closed. But essential services such as grocery stores, banks and pharmacies will remain open.

Residents are allowed to walk their dogs or go for a run, so long as they maintain a distance of at least six feet from anyone they don’t currently live with, San Francisco health officer Dr. Grant Colfax said at a news conference Monday.

De Blasio didn’t provide details on what a shelter-in-place order would look like in New York City. The city is working on a variety of ways to ease the burden on New Yorkers, including suspending alternate-side parking rules that require residents to move their cars for street cleaning and providing food for students while city schools are closed, he said. 

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