COVID-19 pandemic in New York (state)
|COVID-19 pandemic in New York (state)|
|Location||New York state, U.S.|
|First outbreak||Wuhan, Hubei, China|
|Index case||Manhattan, New York City|
|Arrival date||mid-February 2020|
(1st positive March 1)
|Hospitalized cases||100,000+ (total)|
The first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. state of New York during the pandemic was confirmed on March 1, 2020, and the state quickly became an epicenter of the pandemic, with a record 12,274 new cases reported on April 4 and approximately 29,000 more deaths reported for the month of April than the same month in 2019. By April 10, New York had more confirmed cases than any country outside the US. As of March 2, 2021[update], the state has reported 35 million tests, with 1,650,560 cumulative cases, and 47,247 deaths.
New York had the highest number of confirmed cases of any state from the start of U.S. outbreak until July 22, when it was first surpassed by California and later by Florida, Texas, and Illinois. Approximately half of the state's cases have been in New York City, where nearly half the state's population lives.
Despite the high number of cases in March and April, by May 7, New York had reduced the rate of increase of new cases to less than 1 percent per day, and since June 6 to less than 0.25 percent per day. Unlike many other states, New York did not see a spike or "second wave" in the daily new case rate during the summer months. On June 17, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New York had the lowest infection rate in the United States. In late September, New York began to see an uptick in cases, with over 1,000 new cases reported in a single day for the first time since early June on September 26.
As of February 17, 2021[update], the state of New York has the fourth highest number of confirmed cases in the United States, and the 34th highest number of confirmed cases per capita. It has the second highest count of deaths related to the virus, and second-highest count per capita, behind New Jersey. In February 2021, the New York COVID-19 nursing home scandal surfaced, which drew huge criticism on Governor Cuomo's decision on withholding nusing home deaths.
Government response to the pandemic in New York began with a full lockdown from March 2020 to April 2020, followed by a four-phase reopening plan by region from April 2020 to July 2020. Additional modifications to the plan have been imposed since July as the state has learned more about the pandemic and due to political pressure. In October 2020, a micro-cluster strategy was announced which shuts down areas of the state to varying degrees by ZIP code when cases increase.
Genetic analysis confirmed that most cases of the virus had mutations indicating a European origin, meaning travelers flying to New York City from Europe brought the virus. Americans visiting Italy in late February and returning to New York on March 1 were not asked by customs if they had spent time in Italy, even though the State Department had urged Americans not to travel to Italy on February 29 (the same day Italy reported 1,100 COVID cases). According to statistical models, New York City already had 600 COVID-19 cases in mid-February, and as many as 10,000 cases by March 1.
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March 1, 2020 saw the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in New York State, a 39-year-old woman health care worker who lived in Manhattan, who had returned from Iran on February 25 with no symptoms at the time. She went into home isolation with her husband.
On March 3, a second case was confirmed, a lawyer in his 50s who lived in New Rochelle, Westchester County, immediately north of New York City, and worked in Midtown Manhattan at a law firm within One Grand Central Place. He had traveled to Miami in February, but had not visited areas known to have widespread transmission of the coronavirus. Two of his four children had recently returned from Israel. After first feeling ill on February 22, he was admitted to a hospital in Westchester on February 27, diagnosed with pneumonia, and released from isolation after testing negative for the flu. Instances of panic buying in New York were reported after his case was confirmed.
On March 4, the number of cases in New York State increased to 11 as nine people linked to the lawyer tested positive, including his wife, a son, a daughter, a neighbor, and a friend and his family.
On March 5, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said that coronavirus fears should not keep New Yorkers off the subway, riding from Fulton Street to High Street in a public press attempt to demonstrate the subway's safety.
On March 6, eleven new cases were reported, bringing the state caseload to 33. All the new cases were tied to the first community transmission case, the lawyer. At the end of the day, an additional 11 new cases were reported by the governor, bringing the total caseload to 44, with 8 of the new cases in Westchester County, and 3 in Nassau County on Long Island. Also on March 6, an article appeared in the New York Post stating that while Mayor de Blasio assigned responsibility for the lack of N95 masks and other personal protective equipment to the federal government, the city never ordered the supplies until that date.
On March 8, the state reported 16 new confirmed cases and a total of 106 cases statewide. New York City issued new commuter guidelines amid the current outbreak, asking sick individuals to stay off public transit, encouraging citizens to avoid densely packed buses, subways, or trains.
On March 9, Mayor de Blasio announced that there were 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New York City. On March 10, Governor Cuomo announced a containment zone in the city of New Rochelle from March 12 to 25.
On March 11, Cuomo announced that the City University of New York and State University of New York schools would be closed for the following week, from March 12 to 19. These college systems would move most classes to an online-based system starting March 19, and continuing through the rest of the spring semester. Dormitories will remain open for students "who cannot return home for hardship reasons." Also on March 11, a man in Monroe County tested positive, making it the first county in Western New York to have a COVID-19 case. Officials said he flew into JFK from Italy, traveled on a Greyhound bus from Manhattan to Rochester, and arrived locally the morning of March 10. The bus continued on to Buffalo and Toronto.
On March 12, the first two cases were confirmed in Albany County, leading Albany mayor Kathy Sheehan to suspend the annual St. Patrick's Day parade. The same day, a staff member at Union College tested positive for coronavirus in Schenectady County, marking the county's first case.
On March 13, Herkimer County saw its first confirmed case but declined to disclose the patient's location. The patient later was revealed to have been from the Mohawk/Ilion area, just south of Herkimer, the county seat.
On March 14, the first two fatalities in the state occurred. An 82-year-old woman in Brooklyn with pre-existing emphysema died in the hospital. A 65-year-old person with other significant health problems who had not previously been tested for COVID-19 died at their home in Suffern, Rockland County. It was also announced that three people in Erie County tested positive for COVID-19. Orange County, Dutchess County and Ulster County closed down all their schools.
On March 15, the third fatality in the state was announced. A 79-year-old woman with underlying health issues died, who had been admitted to a New York City hospital.
On March 16, Clinton County reported its first case, at CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh. No further information has been revealed about the patient. Confirmed cases increased by 4,000 between March 22 and 23, which brought the total number of confirmed cases statewide to nearly 21,000. 12,305 of these were in New York City.
On March 24, Cuomo stated that "The apex is higher than we thought and the apex is sooner than we thought." He warned there was not enough assistance from the federal government and that the state had 25,000 cases and at least 210 deaths. 211 NYPD officers and civilian employees have tested positive for COVID-19. In total, 2,774 NYPD employees, 7.6 percent of the workforce, were sick. There were approximately 4,000 positive cases in Westchester County by March 24, and more than 15,000 confirmed cases by April 9.
On March 26, Cuomo announced that the state would allow two patients to share one ventilator using a technique he called "splitting," where a second set of tubes would be added to the ventilator. COVID-19 patients need ventilators for between 11 and 21 days, while under normal circumstances patients usually only require them for three to four days. He also said the state was considering converting anesthesia machines to use as ventilators. Between March 25 and March 26, there were 100 deaths statewide, with the number of hospitalized patients increasing by 40 percent in New York City.
On January 4, 2021, a confirmed case of a new, more contagious SARS-CoV-2 variant from the United Kingdom was reported in New York. The patient is a man in his sixties from Saratoga County in Upstate New York, who had no travel history to the United Kingdom. As of March 2, 2021, 286 sequences in the B.1.1.7 lineage have been detected in New York.
Impact on health care
Shortage of protective gear and medical equipment
After trying to purchase 200,000 N95 masks on February 7, 2020, the Office of Emergency Management learned that vendors were out of stock. Emergency provisions of masks and hand sanitizers did not arrive until early March. One medical supply vendor with standing city contracts said that the initial requests for protective gear from the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) were bogged down by inefficient bureaucratic delays. One vendor said, "We'd send them a list of products we can deliver within 24, 48 hours," but on average it took 72 hours for the agency to place an order. He added "the city just moves so slow" when there was very high demand coming from hospitals and the private sector. According to the contractor, eight out of 10 supply orders could not be filled because DCAS did not pay on time, which a spokeswoman for New York City denied. The office of the comptroller approved 12 contracts with a total value of $150 million before the mayor's office took over the process on March 16. Mayor de Blasio said that the city might run out of supplies by April if the federal government did not send 3 million N95 masks, 50 million surgical masks, 15,000 ventilators, and 45 million surgical gowns, gloves, and face shields.
One EMS worker expressed frustration at being asked to wear the less-effective surgical masks. The police union filed a complaint on March 13 due to NYPD officers not being given masks and other protective gear. A spokeswoman called the Police Benevolent Association's complaint "empty rhetoric".
New York gave a $69 million contract to a Silicon Valley engineer to provide 1,000 ventilators. The ventilators were never delivered. As of May 5, New York was seeking a refund. The engineer's name had been supplied by federal officials, and they had received it from volunteers in the office of Jared Kushner, senior advisor to President Trump. According to the New York Times, it appears the engineer had not been vetted by anyone.
On March 28, 2020, The New York Times reported that the city's 911 emergency response system was "overwhelmed" due to the large number of coronavirus patients needing transport to the hospital. Dispatchers received more than 7,000 calls on March 26, a record since the September 11 attacks. Emergency workers had to decide which cases to prioritize, and some patients were being left at home without medical care. In addition, paramedics lacked sufficient protective gear.
The private corporations responsible for testing have a limited testing capacity. Eventually, their testing capacity will reach a bottleneck where it becomes increasingly difficult to conduct more tests per day. Backlogs for test results continue to increase in multiple states such as California, where it can take weeks to receive test results.
The FDA has approved New York State to authorize the state's 28 public and private labs to begin manual, semi-automated and automated testing for novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. The approval allows the state to dramatically increase testing capacity to thousands of tests per day. The approval also extends to the Roche high-volume platform for testing. New York State's Wadsworth Lab has developed a new, less intrusive test for COVID-19. The new test is done through a saliva sample and a self-administered short nasal swab in the presence of a healthcare professional. Additionally, health care professionals can self-administer the test without another health care professional present.
|March 7, 2020||State of emergency declared.|
|March 9, 2020||State began producing its own brand of hand sanitizer.|
|March 10, 2020||Governor Cuomo orders a coronavirus "containment zone" in New Rochelle, Westchester County, NY.|
|March 12, 2020||All gatherings of less than 500 people ordered to cut capacity by 50%. All gatherings of more than 500 people ordered to cancel.|
|March 12, 2020||All SUNY campuses ordered to close within a week, and then shift to online for the remainder of the semester.|
|March 15, 2020||All New York City schools ordered to close until April 20.|
|March 16, 2020||Cuomo coordinates with his counterparts in New Jersey and Connecticut to formulate uniform policies for shutdowns.|
|March 20, 2020||State-wide stay-at-home order declared. All non-essential businesses ordered to close. All non-essential gatherings canceled/postponed.|
|March 25, 2020||Advisory issued ordering nursing homes to admit patients who test positive for the coronavirus and to not allow testing of prospective nursing home patients. This order was revoked on May 10.|
|March 27, 2020||All schools statewide ordered to remain closed until April 15.|
|March 28, 2020||All non-essential construction sites ordered to shut down.|
|April 6, 2020||Statewide stay-at-home order and school closures extended to April 29.|
|April 9, 2020||List of businesses deemed essential expanded.|
|April 15, 2020||All state residents ordered to wear face masks/coverings in public places where social distancing is not possible.|
|April 16, 2020||Statewide stay-at-home order and school closures extended to May 15.|
|May 1, 2020||All schools and universities ordered to remain closed for the remainder of the academic year.|
|May 7, 2020||Statewide four-phase reopening plan is first announced.|
|May 14, 2020||Statewide state of emergency extended to June 13.|
|May 15, 2020||Phase 1 of reopening allowed for counties that met qualifications. Five counties met qualifications and began reopening on this date.|
|May 15, 2020||Drive-in theaters, landscaping/gardening businesses allowed to reopen state-wide (regardless of Phase 1 qualifications).|
|May 23, 2020||Gatherings of up to ten people allowed as long as social distancing is practiced.|
|June 8, 2020||New York City meets conditions for Phase 1, allowing the reopening of construction, manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, fishing, and select retail businesses that can offer curbside pickup.|
|June 15, 2020||Four-phase reopening plan is modified to allow non-essential gatherings of 25 people upon entry of Phase 3, and 50 people upon entry of Phase 4.|
|June 22, 2020||New York City meets conditions for Phase 2, allowing the reopening of outdoor dining at restaurants, hair salons and barber shops, offices, real estate firms, in-store retail, vehicle sales, retail rental, repair services, cleaning services, and commercial building management businesses.|
|July 10, 2020||Malls allowed to open at 25% capacity for regions in Phase 4, with all patrons required to wear masks.|
|July 16, 2020||New restrictions on bars/restaurants only allowing alcohol to be served only to people ordering food.|
|August 7, 2020||Schools allowed to open in-person in the fall if certain conditions are met.|
|August 19, 2020||Ban on ticketed music events at bars and restaurants.|
|October 1, 2020||Exposure notification apps are added to notify users of potential exposure.|
|October 1, 2020||The previous ban on ticketed events at bars and restaurants is ruled unconstitutional.|
|October 6, 2020||Micro-cluster strategy is introduced, with the first micro-clusters being parts of Brooklyn and Queens.|
|November 12, 2020||Bars, gyms, and any other business with a liquor license must close by 10 p.m. (restaurants as well, except for curbside pickup). Household gatherings limited to ten people.|
|November 25, 2020||Previous restrictions on capacity through the micro-cluster strategy for places of worship is ruled unconstitutional.|
|December 8, 2020||Hospital bed capacity statewide is demanded to be upgraded by 25 percent.|
On March 2, 2020, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that people should ignore the virus and "go on with your lives + get out on the town despite coronavirus." At a news conference on March 3, New York City Commissioner of Health Oxiris Barbot said "we are encouraging New Yorkers to go about their everyday lives."
On March 4, at another news conference, authorities described the epidemic caused by the virus and the pandemic as "caused by fear," and reassured the public that the situation would be under control given the capabilities of New York's health care system. Barbot issued a statement that "There's no indication that being in a car, being in the subways with someone who's potentially sick is a risk factor." On March 5 she said that New Yorkers without symptoms should not have to quarantine. The advice to continue taking public transportation given by city officials during the early stages of the pandemic potentially contributed to the intensity of the outbreak in New York City, though this has been disputed, and research has proved inconclusive.
On March 7, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency. The following day, the Governor called for private testing due to demand outpacing the ability to test. The Governor called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to approve private testing and also approve automated testing. Responding to the rush on hand sanitizer buying in the state and reported price gouging, Cuomo announced on March 9 that the state would begin producing its own brand of hand sanitizers, bought from a third-party and bottled and packaged by prisoners in the state's correctional system.
On March 10, de Blasio said about COVID-19 that "If you’re under 50 and you’re healthy, which is most New Yorkers, there’s very little threat here. This disease, even if you were to get it, basically acts like a common cold or flu. And transmission is not that easy." He was unaware of asymptomatic transmission, though studies had already been released showing the phenomenon and scientists such as Dr. Anthony Fauci had accepted this a month before.
On March 12, Cuomo announced restrictions on mass gatherings, directing events with more than 500 people to be cancelled or postponed and any gathering with fewer than 500 people to cut capacity by 50 percent. In addition, only medically necessary visits would be allowed at nursing homes.
Cuomo announced that all Broadway theaters had been ordered to shut down at 5 p.m. that day, and that public gatherings in congregate spaces with more than 500 people were prohibited beginning 5 p.m. the following day. The legal capacity of any venue with a capacity of 500 people or fewer was also reduced by half to discourage large gatherings.
As part of the announcement, Cuomo waived the requirement that schools be open for 180 days that year in order to be eligible for state aid. It was also announced this day that all SUNY campuses would be mandated to close by March 19 and move to a distance-learning model for the remainder of the semester. The next day, all public school districts in Dutchess, Orange, and Ulster counties in the Mid-Hudson Valley, which had reported their first cases earlier in the week, announced they would close for the next two weeks. The Warwick schools in Orange County added that they would remain closed through April 14, when their annual spring break would normally end.
On March 13, all public schools in Herkimer County announced they, too, would close until April 14. The county B.O.C.E.S. program and all its participating school districts' superintendents met and unanimously voted for the decision less than a day after the first confirmed case had been announced in the county. That day, pressure from the teachers union (reported as "furious" about the schools remaining opened) and some city council members was mounting on the Mayor of New York City to close schools. De Blasio stated that he would keep the schools open, citing the need for meal programs to continue and child care to continue.
On March 15, Cuomo announced that New York City schools would close the following day through April 20, and gave the city 24 hours to come up with a plan for child care and food. Public schools in Westchester, Suffolk, and Nassau would close on March 16 and stay closed for two weeks. New York City Mayor de Blasio also announced that all schools, bars, and restaurants in the city were to be closed starting 9 a.m. on March 17, except for food takeout and delivery.
On March 16, The New York Times reported that for the past week, the mayor's "top aides were furiously trying to change the mayor's approach to the coronavirus outbreak. There had been arguments and shouting matches between the mayor and some of his advisers; some top health officials had even threatened to resign if he refused to accept the need to close schools and businesses, according to several people familiar with the internal discussions."
On March 17, as the number of confirmed cases rose to 814 citywide, de Blasio announced that the city was considering a similar shelter-in-place order within the next 48 hours. Across the boroughs of New York City, there were 277 confirmed cases in Manhattan, 248 in Queens, 157 in Brooklyn, 96 in the Bronx, and 36 in Staten Island. Seven city residents had died of the virus. Mayor de Blasio's comments were quickly rebuked by Cuomo's office, and again later by the governor himself in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper. Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor, issued a statement during the mayor's briefing, clarifying state government was not considering shelter-in-place orders at the time. Cuomo said later that morning, "We hear 'New York City is going to quarantine itself.' That is not true. That cannot happen. It cannot happen legally. No city in the state can quarantine itself without state approval. And I have no interest whatsoever and no plan whatsoever to quarantine any city."
On March 18, Cuomo reaffirmed that he would not approve a "shelter-in-place" order for New York City. "That is not going to happen, shelter in place, for New York City," Cuomo said, "For any city or county to take an emergency action, the state has to approve it. And I wouldn't approve shelter in place." He also announced that nearly 5,000 tests were administered on March 17, raising the total number to 14,597 people tested. Cuomo suggested that this may in part have led to the jump in confirmed cases to 2,382 statewide, including 1,871 cases in New York City. Also on March 18, the Department of Defense said the Navy's hospital ship USNS Comfort was being prepared for deployment in New York, "to assist potentially overwhelmed communities with acute patient care".
On March 20, de Blasio called for drastic measures to combat the coronavirus outbreak. "We have to go to a shelter-in-place model," he said, praising California's "stay at home" model for sheltering in place. Cuomo announced the statewide stay-at-home order, also known as the NYS on Pause Program, with a mandate that all non-essential workers work from home beginning at 8 p.m. on March 22. Only businesses declared as essential by the program were allowed to remain open.
Also that day, the New York State Thruway Authority announced it would change its tolling procedures for travelers who do not use EZPass, its Electronic toll collection system. Instead of receiving a ticket whenever they enter the 570-mile (920 km) Thruway system, they are now instructed to inform toll collectors of their entry point at the toll plaza where they exit the highway, and then their license plate number will be recorded. A bill for the toll will be sent to the registered owner of the vehicle by mail; the authority said it would continue with its plans to convert the entire system to cashless tolling by the end of the year.
On March 22, Trump announced that he had directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide four large federal medical stations with 1,000 beds for New York. On March 23, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a plan to use convalescent antibody-rich blood plasma, as a stopgap measure for the disease. On March 24, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, advised people who had left New York City to self-quarantine for 14 days. On March 29, CBS News reporter Maria Mercader, a New York City resident, died from a COVID-19 related illness.
On March 25, 2020, Cuomo and the New York State Department of Health issued an advisory requiring hospitals to discharge COVID-positive patients deemed medically stable to nursing homes, who were required to admit them if they could care for them, and barred testing prospective nursing home patients. This order was revoked on May 10 after widespread criticism from medical experts. Over 6,000 New York state nursing home residents have died of COVID as of June 2020. Governor Andrew Cuomo later claimed that his government only followed CDC and CMS guidelines from March 13 offering this "edited" quote "Nursing homes should admit any individuals from hospitals where Covid is present."
On March 26, Trump announced that USNS Comfort would head up to New York City to assist local hospitals. The ship departed on March 28 and arrived at Pier 90 of the Manhattan Cruise Terminal on March 30. On March 27, the United States, with a confirmed 111,980 cases, surpassed Italy and China to become the country with the most coronavirus COVID-19 cases in the world; more than 52,000 of these cases were reported in New York State alone. On that same day, Governor Cuomo announced all schools statewide would remain further closed until at least April 15.
On March 28, Cuomo announced that New York State's 2020 Democratic Primary, originally scheduled for April 28, would be postponed until June 23; a month later it was canceled as "essentially a beauty contest the state can no longer afford", angering supporters of Bernie Sanders, who although he had ended his campaign and endorsed putative Democratic nominee Joe Biden, still sought to gain influence over the party's platform by boosting Sanders' delegate count.
President Trump said that he was considering imposing an "enforceable" quarantine on New York. He later announced: "On the recommendation of the White House CoronaVirus Task Force, and upon consultation with the Governor's of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, I have asked the @CDCgov to issue a strong Travel Advisory, to be administered by the Governors, in consultation with the Federal Government. A quarantine will not be necessary." Governor Cuomo threatened Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo with a lawsuit over a new state quarantine policy, which would make sure people from New York would self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Rhode Island. On March 29, Raimondo repealed the order that specifically referred to New Yorkers, and broadened it to include any out-of-state traveler entering Rhode Island with intent to stay.
Cuomo also on March 28 ordered all nonessential construction sites in the state to shut down. This led the developers of the Legoland park under construction in Goshen to postpone their planned July 4 opening date until 2021. A specific date was not set, but Orange County's director of tourism expected it would probably be the normal April opening date.
In March 2020, the U.S. Army dispatched soldiers from Army Corps of Engineers field hospitals in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and Fort Hood, Texas, to New York City to convert New York City's Javits Convention Center into a 2,910-bed civilian medical hospital. More medical hospitals will be set up by these Army officers in New York City as well. On March 30, the U.S. Navy medical ship USNS Comfort arrived in New York City to assist with non-COVID operations, relieving land hospitals to stop the city's growing COVID-19 pandemic. It was later announced that field hospitals would be set up in Central Park and at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens. On March 31, it was revealed that Andrew Cuomo's brother Chris, a New York City resident and CNN journalist, had been diagnosed with COVID-19, and that New York City saw its first COVID-19-related death of a child.
On April 4, Cuomo likened the rapid spread of cases on Long Island to "a fire spreading", lowering the city's share of statewide cases from 75 percent to 65. Two days later, he extended the state's stay-at-home order and school closures to April 29. The state's death rate appeared to be leveling off, as well as new hospitalizations, and the rate of new cases was remaining steady, suggesting the state was reaching an apex, but he did not think it was safe yet to loosen restrictions.
The same day, the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York, which oversees education in the state, announced it would cancel the June Regents exams administered in secondary schools. It later clarified that students who were scheduled to take the exam do not have to make it up as long as they complete all other elements of the classes in question by June, or in summer school. Students who had been set to take the exam in order to make up for a previous failure were also exempt.
On April 9, it was clarified that some businesses were essential in whole or part:
- Emergency chiropractic services,
- occupational and physical therapy, when prescribed;
- Landscaping, done for maintenance and pest control, but not cosmetically;
- Designing, printing, publishing and signage, to the extent that those activities support essential businesses;
- and remote streaming of classes from schools or fitness centers, providing no one attends those classes in person.
Cuomo had in the interim ordered some symbolic gestures of remembrance and support. All flags at state government buildings are to be flown at half-staff for the duration of the stay-at-home order in memory of the New Yorkers who have died of COVID-19. On April 9, the Kosciuszko and Tappan Zee bridges were lit in blue, along with the spire of One World Trade Center and parking garages at La Guardia Airport, to honor the health care workers treating patients at risk of their own health and lives.
The governor also directed the state Department of Labor to make $600 extra available in unemployment benefits to New Yorkers. The federal CARES Act had authorized federal funds for the states to supplement their unemployment benefits, but they had not been disbursed to the states yet, and Cuomo wanted New Yorkers to have that money as soon as possible. Benefits will also be extended another 13 weeks, to a total of 39.
On April 15, Cuomo signed an executive order requiring all New York State residents to wear face masks or coverings in public places where social distancing is not possible.
On April 16, New York Governor Cuomo extended the state's stay-at-home order and school closures through May 15, amid signs of the rate of hospitalizations slowly declining. He warned that any change in behavior could reignite the spread of coronavirus.
Cuomo announced April 22 that the state would be starting a contact tracing program in coordination with New Jersey and Connecticut as a preliminary step to any loosening of the stay-at-home order. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health will develop an online curriculum that will be used to train 35,000 students in medicine and related fields at the SUNY and City University of New York schools. Michael Bloomberg, former New York City mayor, has contributed $10.5 million to make the program possible. Near the end of April, a disability rights group sued the governor for not providing live Sign language interpreters in the television broadcast feed of the daily briefings.
On May 1, Cuomo said that all schools and universities would remain closed for the remainder of the academic year. He cited the difficulty of maintaining social distancing among young children in elementary school in particular, and was not even sure that schools could return to completely normal procedures by September.
On May 4, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said that unlike most other New York counties, Erie County was not ready to reopen on May 15 when Governor Cuomo's stay-at-home order is set to expire.
All phases of reopening require New Yorkers to adhere to social distancing guidelines and wear masks or face coverings when social distancing is not possible.
On May 10, Cuomo reversed the March 25th order to force nursing homes to house COVID-19 patients after a scandal erupted.
On May 14, Cuomo issued an executive order to extend the PAUSE order through May 28 for New York City and other regions that have not yet met the state's requirements to begin Phase 1 of reopening. This same day, the state of emergency for the entire state was extended to June 13.
Also on May 15, Cuomo allowed the following businesses and activities for the entire state regardless of meeting the qualifications to begin Phase 1: drive-in theaters, landscaping and gardening, and low-risk recreational activities such as tennis.
On May 23, Cuomo modified an executive order to allow gatherings of up to 10 people as long as social distancing is practiced.
On June 15, Cuomo announced that regions upon entry of Phase 3 will be allowed non-essential gatherings of up to 25 people, and 50 people upon entry of Phase 4.
On June 17, Cuomo announced that New York City is on track to enter Phase 2 of reopening on June 22.
On June 19, Cuomo gave his final daily coronavirus briefing, saying "We have done the impossible." He said he will continue to hold press conferences and monitor the situation as needed.
On July 10, malls were allowed to open at 25 percent capacity for regions in Phase 4 with masks required at all times.
On July 13, Cuomo announced criteria for reopening schools. Whether a school will be allowed to reopen will be based on average 14-day infection rate, and phase for its region. A region must be in Phase 4, and have an infection rate of 5 percent or lower over a 14-day average. If infection rate at any time increases to beyond 9%, schools in that region must close even if they had previously opened.
On July 16, Cuomo enacted new regulations for bars and restaurants allowed open via Phase 3 or Phase 4. Bars and restaurants are only allowed to serve alcohol to people ordering food. Many that previously served only alcohol are managing to remain in business by offering "dollar menus" with items such as chips, peanuts, and French fries. People sitting at bar tops must be socially distanced by six feet or by physical barriers.
On August 1, five months after the first reported case of COVID-19 Cuomo announced that New York had conducted the highest number of tests in the state in a single day of 82,737 with 0.91 percent coming back positive.
On August 7, Cuomo said schools can open in the fall if they publicly disclose plans to address remote learning, testing of virus, and tracing procedures. Of the state's 749 school districts, 127 had not submitted plans, and 50 have submitted incomplete or deficient ones to the Department of Health. School districts must have submitted plans for in-person learning by August 14 in order to open in person at all in the fall.
On August 19, the New York State Liquor Authority banned ticketed music events at bars and restaurants. Artists may still perform as long as the performance is "incidental" and there is no prior advertising or knowledge of the performance in any form.
On September 26, the state recorded more than 1,000 daily COVID-19 cases, which marked the first time since June 5 that the state had seen a number that high. The increase was attributed to several neighborhoods in Brooklyn, in conjunction with the Rockland County communities of Spring Valley and Monsey along with Palm Tree in neighboring Orange County; all those areas have high Orthodox Jewish populations. Positive test rates for the virus in some of those locations were as high as 30 percent while rates statewide otherwise remained below 1 percent.
On October 1, Governor Cuomo in conjunction with Governor Murphy of New Jersey, launched exposure notification apps COVID Alert NY and COVID Alert NJ which can notify users of potential exposure to COVID-19 while including individual privacy and security parameters.
Five days later, Orange County Health Commissioner Irina Gellman ordered the Kiryas Joel schools closed until positive test rates in the community, which had reached a three-day rolling average of 27.6 percent, fell below 9 percent, or two weeks, whichever came later.
On October 6, Cuomo introduced a micro-cluster strategy. The new plan places new restrictions in cluster areas that have spikes in COVID-19 cases. The first areas to experience these new restrictions were parts of Brooklyn and Queens. Clusters have been added and removed since October 6.
On November 12, Cuomo announced new statewide restrictions which took effect the next day. Bars, gyms and any other business with a liquor license must close by 10 p.m. Restaurants must also close at that time, but will still be able to provide curbside pick-up. Household gatherings were limited to ten people.
On November 25, the Supreme Court of the United States, on a per curiam order, granted injunction relief to religious groups, preventing the state from enforcing Executive Order 202.3 for religious services, based on their likelihood in the ongoing legal challenge. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented.
On December 1, Cuomo allowed schools in the orange or red zone to allow in-person instruction as long as they test 25% of their students weekly.
On December 8, Cuomo directed hospital bed capacity to be upgraded by 25 percent and warned that indoor dining may face a total shutdown in the New York City area if hospitalization rates continued to climb.
On December 11, Cuomo modified the micro-cluster strategy to allow gyms and salons to operate in the "orange zone" with increased testing and reduced capacity.
On December 23, a court ruling allowed gyms to open at full capacity regardless of color zone.
On December 30, Cuomo announced he would allow 6,772 fans into Bills Stadium for the American Football Conference wild card National Football League game vs. the Indianapolis Colts. Fans needed to provide evidence of a negative test result within 72 hours of the game, wear masks at all times, and social distance. Contact tracing took place following the game.
On January 13, 2021, 91 businesses successfully sued Governor Cuomo, the NYS Liquor Authority, and the Erie County Health Department to allow bars and restaurants that were closed in an orange zone to reopen operate under yellow zone regulations. This meant that businesses that fell under a current orange zone would no longer be forced to provide outdoor dining only (or be closed completely), and would once again be allowed to serve alcohol indoors.
On January 27, Cuomo lifted nearly all color zones across the state. This included zones in the counties of Onondaga, Oneida, Monroe, Erie, and Niagara.
On January 28, an investigation conducted by state attorney general Letitia James concluded that the Cuomo administration undercounted COVID-19-related deaths at nursing homes by as much as 50%. It became known as the New York COVID-19 nursing home scandal, which drew huge criticism on alleged Governor Cuomo's cover-up nusing home deaths.
On January 29, Cuomo announced that starting March 15, wedding reception venues will be allowed to open with a maximum of 150 people or 50% capacity, whichever condition is met first. All patrons must get tested (unless vaccinated) and events must be approved by the health department.
On February 5, 91 businesses became exempt from the 10pm curfew on bars and restaurants due to a NYS Supreme Court ruling. However, this exemption was reverted three days later on February 8. On February 12, Cuomo extended the curfew to 11pm for all bars and restaurants statewide.
On February 18, Cuomo released guidance for indoor and outdoor entertainment facilities and amusement parks. Indoor entertainment facilities will be able to reopen at 25% capacity on March 26. Outdoor amusement parks will be able to reopen at 33% capacity on April 9.
On February 28, a second lawsuit by 91 businesses resulted in them once again being exempt from the 11pm curfew. The court order noted that there is a lack of scientific evidence that bars or restaurants are at a higher risk of spreading COVID-19 after curfew.
In late March, the Governor announced an "Excelsior Pass" smartphone app by which users may present evidence of vaccination or recent COVID test.
On April 3, Cuomo announced that more than 10 million total COVID-19 vaccines were administrated throughout New York state, with 1 in 3 having received at least one dose and 1 in 5 New Yorkers being full vaccinated.
On April 19, the curfew for bars and restaurants was extended from 11pm to midnight.
On April 29, the mandate requiring all alcohol purchases to be accompanied with food was removed.
On May 19, most capacity restrictions will be removed statewide including retail stores, food services, gyms, fitness centers, amusement and family entertainment, hair salons, barber shops, offices, houses of worship, museums, and theaters. Indoor catered events will increase from a 200 person max capacity to 500 people with testing and proof of vaccinations (and 250 people without testing and proof of vaccinations). Outdoor/large venues will increase to 33% capacity. All capacity restrictions will still be subjected to six-foot social distancing, except events that show proof of negative tests and vaccinations.
Statewide stay-at-home order
A statewide stay-at-home order, also known as the "New York State on PAUSE" executive order, was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on March 20, 2020. The executive order was summarized in ten points:
- Effective at 8pm on Sunday, March 22, all non-essential businesses statewide will be closed
- Non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason (e.g. parties, celebrations or other social events) are canceled or postponed at this time
- Any concentration of individuals outside their home must be limited to workers providing essential services and social distancing should be practiced
- When in public individuals must practice social distancing of at least six feet from others
- Businesses and entities that provide other essential services must implement rules that help facilitate social distancing of at least six feet
- Individuals should limit outdoor recreational activities to non-contact and avoid activities where they come in close contact with other people
- Individuals should limit use of public transportation to when absolutely necessary and should limit potential exposure by spacing out at least six feet from other riders
- Sick individuals should not leave their home unless to receive medical care and only after a telehealth visit to determine if leaving the home is in the best interest of their health
- Young people should also practice social distancing and avoid contact with vulnerable populations
- Use precautionary sanitizer practices such as using isopropyl alcohol wipes
The stay-at-home order remained in full effect until May 15 when the first regions met the requirements for the four-phase reopening plan. Regions that did not meet the requirements continued to follow the stay-at-home order until requirements were met.
Four-phase reopening plan
Governor Andrew Cuomo first announced the four-phase reopening plan for businesses and social gatherings on May 7, 2020. In order for a region to begin reopening in Phase 1, it needed to meet these seven metrics:
- 14-day decline in hospitalizations or under 15 new hospitalizations (3-day average)
- 14-day decline in hospitalized deaths OR under 5 new (3-day average)
- New hospitalizations — under 2 per 100,000 residents (3-day rolling average)
- Share of total beds available (threshold of 30 percent)
- Share of ICU beds available (threshold of 30 percent)
- 30 per 1,000 residents tested monthly (7-day average of new tests per day)
- 30 contact tracers per 100,000 residents or to meet current infection rate.
Every region met the requirements for Phase 1 by June 8, with New York City being the last. Regions moved to the next consecutive phase every two weeks, with a few exceptions. The reopening plan was modified since its original announcement on May 7. As of July 10, the four-phase reopening plan was detailed as follows:
- Phase 1: construction, manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, fishing, and select retail that can offer curbside pickup.
- Phase 2: outdoor dining at restaurants, hair salons and barber shops, offices, real estate firms, in-store retail, vehicle sales, retail rental, repair services, cleaning services, and commercial building management.
- Phase 3: indoor dining at restaurants and bars at 50% capacity (excluding New York City) and personal care services.
- Phase 4: low-risk outdoor activities at 33% capacity (outdoor zoos, botanical gardens, nature parks, historical sites, outdoor museums, etc.); low-risk indoor activities at 25% capacity outside of New York City (malls, indoor museums, historical sites, art galleries, aquariums, etc.).
Some types of businesses, such as drive-in theaters, landscaping and gardening, and places of worship, were allowed to reopen regardless of the phase as part of a separate executive order.
On August 17, Cuomo announced gyms and fitness centers would be able to reopen starting August 24 and no later than September 2. Gyms would be required to limit their capacity to 33%, mandate mask wearing at all times, and have proper ventilation systems.
While originally intended in Phase 4, Governor Cuomo excluded cinemas from the reopening plan and has considered them a separate matter. In October 2020, the CEO of Cineworld—parent company of Regal—argued that despite cinemas being allowed to reopen in most other states, studios have been hesitant to release major films until cinemas were allowed to reopen in New York City due to it being a key market for exhibitors. On October 17, Cuomo announced that cinemas would be allowed to reopen outside of New York City on October 23, provided that the county "[has] infection rates below 2 percent on a 14-day average and have no cluster zones." Capacity is limited to 25% capacity or 50 patrons per-screen, whichever is met first.
Some types of businesses have been shut down again temporarily by order of Cuomo's micro-cluster strategy.
Social distancing and face masks
Social distancing has been recommended nationwide by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization since COVID-19 was first declared a national health emergency back in March 2020. It was mandated by Cuomo on March 20 as part of the statewide stay-at-home order.
Face masks were first mandated by law via an executive order issued by Cuomo on April 15. The order states that face masks must be worn in all public places when social distancing is not possible. On May 28, another executive order gave business owners the authority to decide whether patrons must wear a face covering to enter.
Governor Andrew Cuomo introduced a micro-cluster strategy on October 6, 2020. The new plan places new restrictions in cluster areas that have spikes in COVID-19 cases. The first areas to experience these new restrictions were parts of Brooklyn and Queens. The cluster areas are further zoned with three levels of restrictions, which consist of the following as of January 13, 2021:
- Red zone (most extreme): prohibits all social gatherings, closes all non-essential businesses (except places of worship), and limits schools to remote only
- Orange zone (warning zone): limits social gatherings to 10 people, dining to 4 people per table and 50% capacity, requires mandatory weekly testing for schools, and reduced capacity and increased testing for salons
- Yellow zone (precautionary zone): limits social gatherings to 25 people, dining to 4 people per table and 50% capacity, and requires mandatory weekly testing for schools
The original micro-cluster strategy introduced on October 6, 2020 applied additional restrictions until various lawsuits by businesses lifted them. Places of worship were limited to varying degrees of capacity until it was ruled unconstitutional on November 5. Schools in the orange or red zone were originally required to close completely until it was ruled unconstitutional on December 1. Gyms and salons in the orange zone were originally required to close completely until it was ruled unconstitutional on December 11. Restaurants and bars in the orange zone were forced to outdoor dining only until it was ruled unconstitutional on January 13, 2021.
State of emergency
All 62 counties in New York State had declared states of emergency by March 16.
- As part of a citywide state of emergency in New York City
- Borough of Brooklyn
- Borough of Manhattan
- Borough of Staten Island
Four members of the State Assembly—Charles Barron, Kimberly Jean-Pierre, Brian Miller, and Helene Weinstein—have been diagnosed with COVID-19; Miller was treated at the intensive care unit at St. Luke's Hospital in Utica. and released at the end of April. On March 30, Jim Seward became the first state senator to test positive for the virus; his case was mild and he recovered.
Almost a month later, senator James Skoufis tested positive after experiencing symptoms; he had been personally distributing supplies to healthcare workers and first responders. He was reported to be resting at home and recovering. On May 5, he announced he had been symptom-free for two weeks and was able to end his self-isolation. "The past two weeks [we]re the sickest I have ever felt", he said.
As of January 11, 2021, no overall plan has been shared by the governor about the overall vaccination strategy for all New Yorkers. The estimated New York State population was 19.5 million in 2019.
Health Care Workers
- High-risk hospital workers (emergency room workers, ICU staff and Pulmonary Department staff)
- Federally Qualified Health Center employees
- Emergency Medical Services (EMS) workers
- Coroners, medical examiners and certain funeral workers
- Urgent Care providers
- People administering COVID-19 vaccines, including local health department staff
- All Outpatient/Ambulatory frontline, high-risk health care workers of any age who provide direct in-person patient care
- All staff who are in direct contact with patients (such as reception staff)
- All frontline, high-risk public health workers who have direct contact with patients, including those conducting COVID-19 tests, handling COVID-19 specimens and COVID-19 vaccinations
This includes, but is not limited to:
- Doctors who work in private medical practices and their staff
- Doctors who work in hospital-affiliated medical practices and their staff
- Doctors who work in public health clinics and their staff
- Registered Nurses
- Specialty medical practices of all types
- Dentists and Orthodontists and their staff
- Psychiatrists and Psychologists and their staff
- Physical Therapists and their staff
- Optometrists and their staff
- Pharmacists and Pharmacy Aides
- Home care workers
- Hospice workers
Residents and Staff in Certain Group Living Facilities
- Nursing homes and other congregate care facilities
- NYS Office of Mental Health, Office People with Developmental Disabilities, and Office of Addiction Services and Supports faciilties
Phase 1B as of January, 2021
- People aged 75 and older
- Public-facing grocery store workers
First Responders and Support Staff for First Responder Agencies
- Fire Service
- State Fire Service, including firefighters and investigators (professional and volunteer)
- Local Fire Services, including firefighters and investigators (professional and volunteer)
- Police and Investigations
- State Police, including Troopers
- State Park Police, DEC Police, Forest Rangers
- SUNY Police
- Sheriffs' Offices
- County Police Departments and Police Districts
- City, Town and Village Police Departments
- Transit of other Public Authority Police Departments
- State Field Investigations, including Department of Motor Vehicles, State Commission of Correction, Justice Center, Department of Financial Services, Inspector General, Department of Tax and Finance, Office of Children and Family Services and State Liquor Authority
- Public Safety Communications
- Emergency Communication and Public Safety Answering Point Personnel, including dispatchers and technicians
- Other Sworn and Civilian Personnel
- Court Officers
- Other Police or Peace Officers
- Support of Civilian Staff for any of the above services, agencies or facilities
- State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Personnel, including correction and parole officers
- Local Correctional Facilities, including correction officers
- Local Probation Departments, including probation officers
- State Juvenile Detention and Rehabilitation Facilities
- Local Juvenile Detention and Rehabilitation Facilities
P-12 Schools, College and Child Care
- P-12 school or school district faculty or staff (includes all teachers, substitute teachers, student teachers, school administrators, paraprofessional staff and support staff including bus drivers)
- Contractors working in a P-12 school or school district (including contracted bus drivers)
- In-person college instructors
- Licensed, registered, approved or legally exempt group child care
- Licensed, registered, approved or legally exempt group child care providers
- Employees or support staff of licensed or registered child care setting
- Licensed, registered, approved or legally exempt child care providers
- Airline and airport employees
- Passenger railroad employees
- Subway and mass transit employees (MTA, LIRR, Metro North, NYC Transit, Upstate Transit)
- Ferry employees
- Port Authority employees
- Public bus employees
Public facing grocery store workers, including convenience store and bodega workers
- Individual living in a homeless shelter where sleeping, bathing or eating accommodations must be shared with individuals and families who are not part of your household
- Individual working (paid or unpaid) in a homeless shelter where sleeping, bathing or eating accommodations must be shared by individuals and families who are not part of the same household, in a position where there is potential for interaction with shelter residents
Other Front Line Workers
- High-risk hospital and FQHC staff, including OMH psychiatric centers
- Health care or other high-risk essential staff who come into contact with residents/patients working in LTCFs and long-term, congregate settings overseen by OPWDD, OMH, OCFS, OTDA and OASAS, and residents in congregate living situations, overseen or funded by the OPWDD, OMH, OCFS, OTDA and OASAS
- Certified NYS EMS provider, including but not limited to Certified First Responder, Emergency Medical Technician, Advanced Emergency Medical Technician, Emergency Medical Technician – Critical Care, Paramedic, Ambulance Emergency Vehicle Operator, or Non-Certified Ambulance Assistant
- County Coroner or Medical Examiner, or employer or contractor thereof who is exposed to infectious material or bodily fluids
- Licensed funeral director, or owner, operator, employee, or contractor of a funeral firm licensed and registered in New York State, who is exposed to infectious material or bodily fluids
- Staff of urgent care provider
- Staff who administer COVID-19 vaccine
- All Outpatient/Ambulatory front-line, high-risk health care workers of any age who provide direct in-person patient care, or other staff in a position in which they have direct contact with patients (i.e., intake staff)
- All front-line, high-risk public health workers who have direct contact with patients, including those conducting COVID-19 tests, handling COVID-19 specimens and COVID-19 vaccinations
- Home care workers and aides, hospice workers, personal care aides, and consumer-directed personal care workers
- Staff and residents of nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and adult care facilities
- Restaurant workers
- Restaurant delivery drivers
- For-hire vehicle drivers, including taxi, livery, black car, and transportation network company drivers
- Public facing hotel workers
- Public-facing government and public employees
- Not-for-profit workers who provide public-facing services to New Yorkers in need
- Essential in-person public-facing building service workers
- People 65 to 74 (since January 12, 2021),
- Adult New Yorkers of any age with the following conditions qualify for the vaccine: (started on February 15, 2021)
- Cancer (current or in remission, including 9/11-related cancers)
- Chronic kidney disease
- Pulmonary Disease, including but not limited to, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma (moderate-to-severe), pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, and 9/11 related pulmonary diseases
- Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities including Down Syndrome
- Heart conditions, including but not limited to heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, or hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) including but not limited to solid organ transplant or from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, use of other immune weakening medicines, or other causes
- Severe Obesity (BMI 40 kg/m2), Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
- Sickle cell disease or Thalassemia
- Type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus
- Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
- Neurologic conditions including but not limited to Alzheimer's Disease or dementia
- Liver disease
- All other essential workers (to be determined by New York State)
Since March 10, 2021, people aged 60 and above can get vaccinated in New York State.
Since March 17, 2021, the following essential workers are also eligible:
- Public-facing government and public employee
- Not-for-profit workers who provide public-facing services to New Yorkers in need
- Essential in-person public-facing building service workers
Since March 23, 2021, people aged 50 and above can get vaccinated in New York State.
Since March 30, 2021, people aged 30 and above can get vaccinated in New York State.
Beginning April 6, 2021, people aged 16 and above can schedule appointments and get vaccinated in New York State.
Phase 2 likely starting in Summer 2021
- All other people
|Week||Number Vaccinated (1st dose)||Σ % NY State Population||Weeks and Date to Herd Immunity||Notes|
|1/20/2021||907,870||4.7%||75 weeks - May 2022||5 weeks|
|1/27/2021||1,246,946||6.4%||66 weeks - March 2022||6 weeks|
|2/3/2021||1,432,195||7.4%||67 weeks - April 2022||7 weeks|
|2/10/2021||1,738,927||8.9%||63 weeks - March 2022||8 weeks|
|2/17/2021||2,068,561||10.6%||59 weeks - February 2022||9 weeks|
|2/24/2021||2,517,003||12.9%||54 weeks - January 2022||10 weeks|
|3/3/2021||3,125,025||16.1%||48 weeks - November 2021||11 weeks|
|3/10/2021||3,972,100||20.4%||41 weeks - October 2021||12 weeks|
|3/17/2021||4,691,257||24.1%||38 weeks - September 2021||13 weeks|
|3/24/2021||5,373,954||27.6%||35 weeks - August 2021||14 weeks|
|4/1/2021||6,192,319||31.8%||33 weeks - August 2021||15 weeks|
|4/7/2021||6,871,863||35.3%||32 weeks - August 2021||16 weeks|
|4/14/2021||7,811,084||40.2%||30 weeks - July 2021||17 weeks|
|4/21/2021||8,410,070||43.2%||29 weeks - July 2021||18 weeks|
|4/28/2021||8,994,649||46.2%||29 weeks - July 2021||19 weeks|
|5/5/2021||9,421,044||48.4%||29 weeks - July 2021||20 weeks|
As a reminder, in excess of 90% of deaths in New York are either people above 60 years of age and people with underlying medical conditions. At the start of NYS vaccination program, there was no clear process for people with underlying medical conditions. Some other countries (e.g., UK) were prioritizing people at highest risk for serious illness or death. The situation and decisions started to be altered after February 8, 2021 when the governor agreed to give access to vaccination for people with co-morbidities.
As patients with co-morbidities can be vaccinated since February 15, 2021, demand continues to exceed supply of vaccines significantly, stretching appointments into Spring 2021 for the population that can get vaccinated.
At the end of February 2021 the access to vaccination appointment slots remained complicated in NYS. The governor of NYS and the mayor of NYC have decided to let separate groups (e.g., Walgreens, medical groups, state or city vaccination campuses) manage their own vaccination schedules. It creates opacity in identifying potential available slots and applying in time to these spots. Phone lines to organize appointments are often not reachable. But Huge Ma, a New York software developer, has created an application that facilitates taking appointments for vaccines in NYS, turbovax.info, which connects to multiple sites offering vaccination appointments. 
By the end of February 2021 there is a noticeable acceleration in the number of people getting vaccinated. In addition, the new J&J vaccine was approved on February 28, 2021. Its distribution has been accompanied by longer overnight opening hours at Yankee Stadium, Javits Center and the NY State Fair Grounds.
On March 9, 2021, Governor Cuomo further increased the number of people who can get vaccinated in New York State to include people above 60 years.
Despite efforts at Governor's and NYC's level, the lack of proper organization is strongly felt and has relegated NYS at the 37th position in the US for the number of people vaccinated as updated by Johns Hopkins.
On March 22, 2021, Governor Cuomo lowered the minimum age to be vaccinated to 50 years and pharmacies are allowed to vaccinate almost eligible New Yorkers.
By March 29, 2021, Governor Cuomo extended vaccination population to 30 years old and announced that, as of April 6, everyone 16 years old and above can be vaccinated.
Impact on voting
The New York State Democratic presidential primary—along with special elections in the 27th congressional district; the 50th senate district; and the 12th, 31st, and 136th assembly districts—were originally scheduled for April 28. On March 13, 2020, Senator Skoufis proposed legislation to move these elections to June 23. The intent was to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. On March 28, the New York State Board of Elections and Governor Cuomo postponed the elections to June 23. Subsequently, the Democratic presidential primary was canceled altogether, and most of the special elections were postponed until the general election in November.
Democratic presidential primary
On April 27, 2020, the Board of Elections changed its decision, and cancelled the Democratic presidential primary outright, by removing several candidates who suspended their campaigns from the ballot. The decision was first criticized by supporters of presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, who hoped to secure additional convention delegates, which would allow greater influence in the Democratic Party's platform. Other critics of the decision cited reduced voter turn out for down-ballot races, which unfairly benefits incumbent candidates. New York State Democratic Party Chair, Jay Jacobs, stated "our motivation right now is to avoid what happened in Wisconsin, where we in this situation are holding a primary that asks poll workers, many of them senior citizens, to risk their health for no particular purpose." Despite this move 42 of 62 New York counties, roughly 68% of counties in the New York State, would remain open for voting due to Congressional and State elections. At the time New York was the only state to cancel its presidential primary.
The decision was overturned on May 5 by Federal District Court Judge Analisa Torres in New York's Southern District, when presidential candidate Andrew Yang filed suit against the Board of Elections, asserting that the decision violated the 1st and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution. Judge Torres stated "...the Democratic Commissioners' April 27 Resolution removing Yang, Sanders, and eight other Democratic presidential candidates from the ballot deprived them of associational rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution."
An appeal was filed by the Board of Elections with the US Court of Appeals, Second Circuit. On May 19, it was ruled that the presidential primary could proceed as planned. The Board of Elections Co-chair, Douglas Kellner, said the Board would not pursue further appeals.
On March 22, 2020, Attorney General Leticia James called for automatic absentee voting in the New York Democratic presidential primary. Cuomo later announced that he would investigate if his recently expanded executive powers would allow him to expand absentee ballot access. On April 9, by executive order of the Governor, all New York State residents were granted the right to apply for an absentee ballot using the state's online absentee ballot application in order to facilitate safe voting in the primary elections. As stated in the order, all voters would be required to "check the box for 'Temporary illness or physical disability' with no requirement for in-person signature or appearance to be able to access an absentee ballot." In an effort to ease barriers to access, Cuomo announced on April 24 that postage paid absentee ballot applications would be mailed to all registered voters in the State. Voters can still apply for a ballot online, or opt to vote in person.
State and local elections
Filings for independent nominations to petitions were postponed beginning March 31, 2020. On April 25 special elections were cancelled for the 50th senate district, and the 12th, 31st and 136th assembly districts, as well as the Queens Borough President and New York City Council District 37. These vacancies are to be filled in the November General Election. The 27th Congressional district special election was not cancelled.
Effect on communities
Lack of enforcement of self-quarantine policies
Self-quarantines for persons who test positive or are symptomatic are not enforced due to a lack of resources. Several New York City area nurses expressed concerns that patients are not complying with self-quarantine guidelines, due to financial necessity or fear of losing their jobs. A New York State Nurses Association board member expressed concern that low-income patients who share rooms with other individuals may not be able to effectively self-isolate at their residences.
Implementation in Hasidic communities
Implementing social distancing has been difficult in some communities dominated by Hasidic Jews. On March 19, 2020, the Orange County village of Kiryas Joel, home to 25,000 Satmar Hasidim, closed all 100 of its synagogues, as well as schools and mikvot, despite the centrality of religious observance in the community. It was estimated that 25–28 percent of its residents had tested positive, including the community's 73-year-old spiritual leader, Grand Rebbe Aaron Teitelbaum. On March 27, the county reported that Kiryas Joel, within the town of Palm Tree, had 234 confirmed cases, the most of any municipality in the county.
Some reports suggested that the Hasidic community has generally been slow to implement measures designed to slow the spread of the virus. This reportedly led to one antisemitic incident. On March 23, a car dealership near Kiryas Joel refused to service a resident's car, telling him he had the virus.
An Orthodox Jewish physician, Vladimir Zelenko, who sees patients at his offices in both Kiryas Joel and Monsey, another predominantly Hasidic community in nearby Rockland County, claims that the real infection rate in Kiryas Joel is much higher. This has been disputed by local authorities. Zelenko, who had to self-isolate since he is missing a lung, said in daily YouTube videos that his office treated 500 patients (mostly in Kiryas Joel) for COVID-19, using the combination of hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, and zinc sulfate, which has in some trials yielded positive results in reducing symptoms. Zelenko claimed that 90 percent of the Hasidic community will become infected; the county's health commissioner and the village's emergency services department disputed that, pointing out that it was based on nine positive results out of 14 samples.
By April 9, Palm Tree had reported 428 cases, maintaining its lead among Orange County's municipalities, a lead it lost a week later. Leaders of the surrounding towns and villages repeated an earlier call by county executive Steve Neuhaus for the town to be declared a containment zone as the area of New Rochelle where a cluster had been identified a month earlier had been, a request denied at that time by Cuomo since the stay-at-home order for the entire state was more restrictive. The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council had responded to such pressure by calling on local leadership to "stop scapegoating Jews of KJ when the problem is clearly widespread, and worse, everywhere in [the] county."
On October 12, Hasidic activist and City Council candidate Heshy Tischler was arrested for inciting a riot and unlawful imprisonment. Hundreds marched through the neighborhood of Borough Park, burning masks, chanting "Jewish Lives Matter" and attacking passersby.
Police and crime
At the beginning of March 2020, prior to the confirmation of the first case of COVID-19, and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in New York City, a 20 percent spike in crime for the first two months of 2020 was reported. After movement in the city became restricted, New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea stated that the pandemic had curtailed crime. At the end of March, Shea said that crime had decreased sharply during the epidemic (other than car theft, which increased markedly), though there is concern that domestic violence was not being reported. As of April 8, 2,103 uniformed members and 373 civilian members had tested positive for the virus while 13 had died.
In early April, the state's Division of Criminal Justice Services reported that crime had dropped considerably since late February, both in the city and state compared to the same period the year before. In the city, combined felony and misdemeanor arrests were down 43 percent, with the rest of the state recording a 69 percent drop. Cuomo praised the drop as a result of social distancing, since it helped keep hospitals and first responders free to deal with the pandemic.
Tensions over city residents relocating to rural areas
Some residents of New York City and its inner suburbs who own, or can afford to rent, property in rural areas upstate or on eastern Long Island have aroused local resentment for doing so during the pandemic. Steve McLaughlin, executive of Rensselaer County, east of Albany, asked Cuomo to issue an order banning all non-essential travel upstate from the city, after city residents booked all available local lodging. Seven of 51 cases the county had as of April 2 were city residents, and the county feared it did not have sufficient healthcare infrastructure to handle a large outbreak; McLaughlin issued an order requiring any recent arrivals from the city to quarantine themselves for 14 days, during which law enforcement will check on them regularly.
Similarly, Greene County, in the Catskills just south of Albany, posted on its website a letter asking people to refrain from traveling there, especially from New York City or Westchester. "There is no hospital in Greene County," wrote the chairman of the county legislature. "This limits our ability to serve a large number of people requiring higher levels of care for COVID-19 patients and other illnesses." The legislatures of neighboring Delaware and Sullivan counties made similar requests.
In the Hamptons, on the eastern end of Long Island's South Fork, a longtime summer destination for city residents, rental rates have quadrupled as the population has nearly doubled. While many year-round residents are aware that the towns' economy depends on seasonal residents, they believe their resources have been stretched to the limit. "People need to stop coming out east. We're full," one woman wrote on a local newspaper's Facebook page.
New York renters and homeowners
Cuomo initially announced a State moratorium for both residential and commercial evictions on March 20, 2020. This moratorium was an attempt to prevent evictions during the height of the COVID-19 public health emergency. He then signed the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, which had passed the New York State Senate and New York State Assembly on May 27, into law on June 30. The Tenant Safe Harbor Act gave an additional layer of protection to tenants experiencing financial hardship during the public health emergency, as it prevented courts from ever evicting on the basis of non-payment that accrued or came due during the COVID-19 period. Previously, a tenant who was unable to pay rent could be evicted on the basis of non-payment as soon as the moratorium ended. On September 28, Cuomo announced the Tenant Safe Harbor Act would be extended and expanded through January 1, 2021.
In addition to the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, Cuomo signed the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020 into effect on December 28. This piece of legislation further safeguards New York renters and homeowners and ensures they can remain in their homes. The Act suspends residential eviction and residential foreclosure proceedings until May 1, 2021, and allows renters and homeowners to submit a declaration of hardship. The Act also prevents credit discrimination, and negative credit reporting due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Impact on sports
Most of the state's sports teams were affected. Major League Baseball cancelled the remainder of spring training on March 12, 2020 and on March 16 it announced that the season will be postponed indefinitely, after the recommendation from the CDC to restrict events of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks, affecting the New York Yankees and New York Mets. The National Basketball Association suspended the season for 30 days starting March 12, affecting the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. The National Hockey League season was suspended indefinitely on March 12, affecting the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and Buffalo Sabres. Major League Soccer postponed the season for 30 days starting March 12, affecting the New York Red Bulls and New York City FC. On March 12, the National Lacrosse League postponed the remainder of their season until further notice, affecting the seasons of the Buffalo Bandits, Rochester Knighthawks, and New York Riptide. The XFL suspended its season on March 12, affecting the inaugural season of the New York Guardians.
In college sports, the National Collegiate Athletic Association cancelled all winter and spring tournaments, most notably the Division I men's and women's basketball tournaments, affecting colleges and universities statewide. On March 16, the National Junior College Athletic Association also canceled the remainder of the winter seasons as well as the spring seasons.
The state's high school basketball playoffs had begun in early March with no spectators allowed. On March 12, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) suspended remaining winter sports championship contests in all sports that still had not decided them: boys' and girls' basketball, ice hockey, and bowling.
A little over a month later, NYSPSHSAA announced that Sections 8 and 11, which cover all of Long Island's high schools, had voted to cancel all spring high school and middle school sports seasons. "It was not an easy [decision] to make," said Section 11 executive director Tom Combs, "however, in what the world is experiencing at this time, it is the most reasonable and prudent decision to make." The other nine sections of the state, in areas which in some cases were not experiencing the pandemic so severely, had not made decisions yet and were still planning for the possibility of a short spring season at the end of May and in early June. Championships for any spring sports, were they to be held, would likely have to be moved to other locations since they had been scheduled to be played on Long Island; on April 27, they were canceled.
At the beginning of May, when Cuomo announced that the remainder of the school year in the state was canceled, all remaining contingency plans for spring high school sports statewide were canceled as well.
In mid-May, Cuomo announced that horse racing statewide and auto races at Watkins Glen International in Schuyler County may resume, with no spectators allowed, at the beginning of June. The NASCAR race weekend scheduled for Watkins Glen International in August was cancelled due to New York's 14-day quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers coming from states with a high rate of COVID-19 cases; this includes North Carolina and Florida, where many drivers and teams in NASCAR are based. The race weekend at Watkins Glen International was replaced by the road course at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida.
On June 20, Cuomo announced that the Yankees and the Mets baseball teams would move from conducting spring training in Florida to New York. The Yankees will be at Yankee Stadium and the Mets at Citi Field. Cuomo added that, "[...] we've determined it's possible for the Yankees and the Mets to safely conduct spring training in the state this year and are thrilled to begin reopening America's national pastime right here in New York."
Impact on outdoor recreation
The ban on large gatherings meant that the annual "First Cast" ceremony at the Junction Pool, a popular fly fishing spot, in the Sullivan County hamlet of Roscoe, marking the April 1 opening of trout season, could not be held. The season still opened and the state's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) encouraged anglers to take to the state's streams as long as they continued to practice social distancing. Many stores in Roscoe that catered to them were nevertheless closed and limited to filling orders online. Anglers in Central New York reported that day that they were able to easily maintain social distancing while in the waters of Ninemile Creek, a practice necessary to the sport in any event since it prevented them from getting their lines tangled with each other. They appreciated the opportunity to get outside on a day with good weather for fishing and forget the pandemic, and some told the Syracuse Post-Standard they had good catches as well.
DEC announced on April 7 that the state's spring wild turkey hunting season in May, and the youth turkey weekend at the end of April, were still going on. It advised hunters, in addition to the usual hunting safety practices, to continue social distancing while hunting and take other measures, such as buying supplies online and hunting close to home. Hunters were further advised to share blinds with other hunters only if they lived in the same residence, and to hunt alone where possible.
Park closures and use restrictions
On April 7, 2020, Rockland and Sullivan counties closed their parks. Residents had been making heavy use of them during the lockdown, making it difficult to enforce social distancing. The closures will last for two weeks and be re-evaluated at the end of that period. A week later the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC) closed Nyack Beach and Rockland Lake state parks in Rockland County; local and county government officials had urged the move since the parks had grown crowded with visitors on recent warm days after the county and its towns closed their own parks. "While this is a tough call it is the right thing to do short term," said county executive Ed Day, who said the decision would be reviewed in two weeks.
On April 9, Cuomo removed golf courses, boat launches and marinas from the list of essential businesses allowed to remain open, forcing all courses in the state of New York to close until at least April 29. The move was a result of New Jersey and Pennsylvania having ordered courses to close, resulting in crowding at New York's courses near borders with those states. On April 18, Empire State Development modified that order to allow courses to open as long as no employees such as caddies were on the course, meaning golfers must carry their own bags and cannot use carts; three weeks later that order was again modified to allow the use of carts as a reasonable accommodation for disabled golfers, per the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Rockland County park closures were supplemented April 24 by the PIPC's closure of all roads through Bear Mountain and Harriman state parks, where the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area has been serving as a testing site, save Seven Lakes Drive, and exits that led to those roads from Palisades Interstate Parkway, in not only Rockland but neighboring Orange County. Trail shelters were also closed, although backpackers were still allowed to set up camp within 300 ft (91 m) of the shelters. Permitholders are still allowed to boat on the parks' lakes; sales of new permits are suspended through May 7.
In Ulster County, parking lots at Minnewaska State Park Preserve in the Shawangunks have been limited to 50 percent of capacity to prevent overcrowding. All recreational activities within the park other than foot travel and motorless bicycling have been prohibited, including climbing and bouldering. Restrooms within the park have been closed as well.
In Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester counties, many popular trails and trailheads alongside the Hudson River in Hudson Highlands State Park have been closed since hikers arriving by car or Metro-North's Hudson Line trains must walk on the side of narrow roads and thus cannot keep six feet apart. Among them are all trails on Breakneck Ridge and Bull Hill north of Cold Spring.
In the Catskill Mountains, DEC announced April 5 it was closing the trail and viewing platforms at Kaaterskill Falls in Greene County, which also attract many hikers to a small space. All fire towers on state land in the Catskill Park have been closed. DEC has also suspended overnight camping at easily accessible and popular locations around the state, and stopped issuing permits for backcountry camping by groups larger than 10, or for more than three days.
New York City's Department of Environmental Protection, which operates the reservoirs of the city's water supply system, announced that recreational boating season on its four Catskill reservoirs, which normally begins May 1, will be postponed to May 23. Fishing from rowboats and the shoreline is still permitted.
|County [a]||Cases [b][c]||Deaths [c]||Recov. [c][d]||Pop.||Cases
|62 / 62||385,142||24,629||310,991||19,453,561||1,979.8||126.6||6.39|
|Updated September 2, 2020|
Data is publicly reported by New York State Department of Health
|Kings County (Brooklyn)||246,710||9,754||21,659.4||1,664.90||9.1||483.37/mi2||2,559,903||26,418||96.9||186.61||10.199||251|
|New York County (Manhattan)||125,851||4,240||16,258||1,233||7.58||1081/mi2||1,628,706||71,341||22.83||417.39||27,545||59.13|
|St. Lawrence County||5,939||80||5,203.4||58.8||1.13||0.06/mi2||34,016||12||2,821||0.02||5||7,306|
|Updated May 4, 2020|
|Confirmed COVID-19 cases in New York State over time|
|Date (2020)||New York City||Rest of state||Total cases||% change||Ref.|
|Date||New York City||Rest of state||Total cases||% change||Ref.|
Following a USA Today article in early April suggesting the states could release demographic breakdowns of victims, New York published information on the age of those who had died of COVID-19. Nearly two-thirds of the dead were over 60 years old. It also included a breakdown by county, information that in some cases differed with that released by the individual county health departments. Later data showed that 61 percent of the dead were men, that 86 percent had underlying health conditions such as hypertension and diabetes that are known to increase the possibility that COVID-19 will be fatal, and that African American and Latino patients in the state outside of the New York City accounted for a greater share of the deaths from the disease than their share of the overall population (data from New York City was not available at the time). Demographics of COVID-19 fatalities continue to be updated on the state's COVID-19 tracker website.
Note: Per NYDOH, the spike for June 30 in the above chart is due to a comprehensive accounting of current and retrospective data, provided by nursing homes and adult care facilities. These data capture COVID-19 confirmed and COVID-19 presumed deaths within these facilities. These data do not reflect COVID-19 confirmed or COVID-19 presumed positive deaths that occurred outside of the facility. This number includes retrospective data from reporting that dates back to March 1, 2020.
- Timeline of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States
- COVID-19 pandemic in New York City - for impact in New York City
- COVID-19 pandemic in the United States – for impact on the country
- COVID-19 pandemic in North America – for impact on the continent
- COVID-19 pandemic – for impact on other countries
- New York COVID-19 nursing home scandal
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