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New York epicenter of Coronavirus crisis in US; cases cross 5,000

By Yoshita Singh
March 21, 2020 20:50 IST
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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that the metropolitan city is the 'epicenter' of the coronavirus crisis in the United States, as government officials announced some of the most stringent measures to slow the spread of the pandemic that has claimed over 200 lives in the country.

IMAGE: An empty Times Square is seen on the street following the outbreak of coronavirus disease in New York City, US. Photograph: Jeenah Moon/Reuters

The mayor on Friday said that there were 5,151 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the city.

"And to give you perspective that is now about one-third of all the coronavirus cases in the United States of America. It is about two-thirds of the cases in the state of New York. I hate to say this, but it's true we are now the epicenter of this crisis right here in the nation's largest city," the mayor said.


However, the number of cases and deaths continue to rise at an alarming rate in the city and across the nation.

Late Friday, officials reported 5,683 confirmed coronavirus cases in New York City and 43 deaths. This grew from the 5,151 cases 29 deaths early Friday. New York State has close to 7000 cases and with 6 percent of the US population, the state accounts for over one-third of all confirmed COVID19 cases in the country.

States across the nation are implementing strict measures that would keep millions of citizens in-doors beginning this weekend. The states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois ordered its residents to stay mostly indoors, in effect meaning that one in five Americans will soon be required to stay indoors.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced some of the strictest measures as the number of coronavirus cases continued to skyrocket in the state.

Cuomo announced that he is signing the "New York State on PAUSE" executive order, a 10-point policy to assure safety for everyone.

IMAGE: A pedestrian walks on Wall Street, as concerns about coronavirus disease keep more people at home, in front of the New York Stock Exchange in New York. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

It includes a new directive that all non-essential businesses statewide must close in-office personnel functions effective at 8 pm on Sunday and temporarily bans all non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason. When in public individuals must practice social distancing of at least six feet from others and young people should also practice social distancing and avoid contact with vulnerable populations.

He also announced "Matilda's Law" -- named for the Governor's mother -- to protect New York's most vulnerable populations, including individuals age 70 and older, those with compromised immune systems and those with underlying illnesses.

The measure requires this group of New Yorkers to stay home and limit home visitation to immediate family members or close friends in need of emergency assistance. In case it is necessary to visit such individuals, the visitor should get prescreened by taking temperature and seeing if person is exhibiting other flu-like symptoms. Both individuals should wear a mask for the duration of the visit.

The mayor lauded Cuomo's decision to ensure that all non-essential workers go home with the exception of people performing essential services for the city and state.

IMAGE: An empty Brooklyn Bridge is seen during the outbreak of coronavirus disease. Photograph: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

"New Yorkers, businesses, nonprofit organisations, community groups, houses of worship, everyone's chipping in. The State of New York, doing the right thing, the right policy to protect us all and taking a lot of the other right moves to be careful to make sure we all get through this," he said.

He however slammed US President Donald Trump for his handling of the crisis, saying, "Everything makes sense, until you get to the federal government. And I still can't understand what's going on here. Essentially, the president offered no new evidence of action.

"I don't understand why I won't do the single simplest thing that would help us and help this whole country mobilise our armed forces. We need their ability, their logistical ability, their operational ability, their extraordinary personnel including their extraordinary medical personnel. We need them here, we need them now. It's as simple as that and the order still has not been given."

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