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COVID-19: NY Businesses Now Must Keep Half Of Workers Home; DOD Dispatches Hospital Ship

The United States Navy hospital ship Comfort. Photo Credit: Governor's Office
A look at COVID-19 density reduction measures taken in New York. Photo Credit: Governor's Office

In an effort to reduce density amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he will order all non-essential businesses in New York to have at least half their employees work from home.

The move does not affect essential services such as food, pharmacies, healthcare, shipping, supplies, etc. The state will be providing a full list of exempted businesses in the statewide executive order, Cuomo said at a news conference on Wednesday, March 18 in Albany.

Cuomo said the move was made in an attempt to "flatten the curve," and prevent an expected spike in new coronavirus cases from overwhelming hospitals.

In anticipation of that, the defense department dispatched a 1,000-bed hospital ship, the 894-foot USNS Comfort to New York Harbor. (See first image above.)

Cuomo will be meeting with representatives of the Army Corps of Engineers Wednesday afternoon to plan likely further assistance in building medical infrastructure.

Cuomo also announced Pennsylvania joined the agreement between New York, New Jersey and Connection to limit restaurants to takeout and delivery and close bars and movie theaters.

State Health Commissioner Harold Zucker also announced the first person in the state to test COVID-19 positive, a healthcare worker in New York City, has recovered.

He said the 39-year-old woman may return to work and is unlikely to contract the disease again for years.

"You develop immunity after you have it," he said. "She's out of the woods now."

Also on Wednesday, President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the United States and Canada will temporarily close their border to “non-essential traffic” because of the pandemic.

Truck drivers and Canadians who live part of the year in the US are expected to be exempt.

Trump also invoked the Defense Production Act to fight the virus and announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been activated to join the battle.

In addition, he ordered the Office of Housing and Urban Development to delay any evictions or foreclosures until the end of April.

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