Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive order goes into effect on April 17.

By Alison Fox
April 16, 2020
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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered all New Yorkers to wear a mask when they are in a public, crowded space amid concerns over COVID-19.

The executive order, which goes into effect Friday, comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued nationwide guidance recommending the use of face masks to stop people from unintentionally spreading the virus.

The agency suggested people use cloth masks or a scarf as a face covering when performing essential errands like going to the grocery store. N95 respirator masks should not be used as they are needed by medical professionals and in short supply.

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In New York, Cuomo’s order requires people to wear masks or cloth coverings that cover their mouths and noses when social distancing is not possible, like on public transportation or on a crowded street.

“I have faith in New Yorkers,” Cuomo said in an encouraging tweet on Wednesday. “We do what makes sense. And it makes sense to cover your face to protect others. I believe in us.”

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More than 213,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in New York, according to the New York State Department of Health. Of those, more than half of them — or more than 118,000 — are in New York City.

Since March 22, New York has been on “PAUSE,” a stay-at-home order that closed all non-essential businesses and banned all non-essential gatherings of any size.

“We have to continue to stop the spread and this is a constant calibration,” Cuomo said at a news conference on Wednesday about wearing masks.

In addition to masks, Cuomo said on Wednesday the state will start testing for antibodies in people’s blood to see if they had the virus and recovered, starting with healthcare workers and other essential workers. He said New York also asked the FDA for expedited approval of a finger prick test so they could eventually administer it to up to 100,000 people per day.

"As we continue to flatten the curve and slow the infection rate of the virus we have to build a bridge from where we are now to the reopening of the economy, and the single best tool to do that is large scale testing,” Cuomo said in a statement.

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The information in this article reflects that of the publishing time above. However, as statistics and information regarding coronavirus rapidly change, some figures may be different from when this story was originally posted. While we strive to keep our content as up to date as possible, we also recommend visiting sites like the CDC or websites of local health departments.