Coronavirus Updates: Construction to begin on temporary hospitals; NYC must submit plan to control crowds

Photo by Mike Groll, Office of the Governor
Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to make executive decisions in hopes to slow down the coronavirus outbreak.

Governor Cuomo:

On citizens ignoring social distancing control measures: “We have taken every action that a government can take. The greatest density control issue right now is in New York City. I saw it myself. I want a plan today.”


On the potential political repercussions of closing businesses and other emergency measures: “I have no second thoughts on actions I have taken, I would make the same decisions today.”  

  • The Army Corps of Engineers will begin construction immediately on temporary hospitals at SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Westbury, Westchester County Center and the Jacob K. Javits Center.
  • All existing hospitals in New York are being ordered to increase their number of available beds by 50 percent.
  • New York City officials must present a plan today to reduce the number of people, especially young people, who are congregating in public places.
  • Officials continue to reach out to retired nurses and doctors to recruit them back into temporary service around the state.
  • New York has acquired masks, gloves, surgical gowns and face shields and will begin distributing them to medical professionals today.
  • Governor Cuomo is pleading with the Trump Administration to implement the National Defense Production Act to force companies to begin producing much-needed medial supplies and equipment
  • New York State acquired 70,000 doses of Hydroxychloroquine, 10,000 doses of Zithromax and 750,000 doses of Chloroquine to begin drug trials, which will begin Tuesday.
  • State officials are scrambling to find ventilators to treat patients with COVID-19. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has put out a call to find every unused ventilator in the state. “We need 30,000 ventilators now. Everything else is secondary to that,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
  • On Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order mandating that all “non-essential” businesses close by 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 22. This follows the governor’s directives on Wednesday and Thursdays that all businesses implement work-from-home policies and incrementally reduce in-person workforces by 50 percent and then 75 percent. This new rule pertains to “non-essential” businesses and service.
  • Exemptions will be made for essential service industries, including shipping, media, warehousing, grocery and food production, food delivery, pharmacies, health care providers, utilities, banks and related financial institutions and other industries “critical to the supply chain.”
  • Businesses that have been specifically identified as “non-essential:” Dine-in restaurants and bars, theaters, barbershops and salons, gyms, casinos, shopping malls, amusement parks, and bowling alleys.
  • No large gatherings will be allowed until further notice. This includes parties, celebrations and social events.
  • Any concentration of individuals outside their home must be limited to workers providing essential services and social distancing should be practiced.

“These [actions] will be enforced if any business is not in compliance. Your actions can affect others,” Cuomo said. “This is not life as usual. We have to do it. We have to be serious. In ten years from now I want to be able to say ‘I did everything we could do.’ This is about saving lives.”

  • In other actions, Gov. Cuomo also announced a mortgage relief program for New Yorkers that will allow borrowers to delay payments up to 90 days for financial hardship reasons and waived fees for overdrafts, ATMs and credit cards.
  • No landlord will be able to evict residential or commercial tenants for the next 90 days.

Amid a shortage of personal protective equipment products in the state, including gloves, masks and gowns, the governor is asking all PPE product providers to sell to the state any products that are not essential or not currently being used. Businesses interested in selling products to the state should contact Simonida Subotic at 646-522-8477 or

The governor is also encouraging any company with the proper equipment or personnel to begin to manufacture PPE products if possible. The state is willing to provide funding to any company to obtain the proper equipment and personnel. Businesses interested in receiving state funding to manufacture PPE products should contact Eric Gertler at 212-803-3100 or

“We know the most effective way to reduce the spread of this virus is through social distancing and density reduction measures,” Governor Cuomo said. “I have said from the start that any policy decision we make will be based on the facts, and as we get more facts we will calibrate our response accordingly. This executive order builds on the actions we have taken to reduce the spread of the virus and protect the wellbeing of our friends, colleagues and neighbors. But again, I want to remind New Yorkers that the panic we are seeing is outpacing the reality of the virus — and we will get through this period of time together.”

This story will be updated frequently as new developments are announced by the governor, legislative leaders, county executives, the state Department of Health and other officials.