Gov. Andrew Cuomo is asking New York businesses to allow employees to work from home and to consider voluntarily closing due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Cuomo said Sunday that he's had conversations with private businesses about efforts to reduce density — one part of the strategy to reduce the spread of the virus that's sickened at least 700 New Yorkers.
Other states and municipalities have ordered businesses to close due to the outbreak. So far, New York hasn't directed businesses to temporarily shut down.
"Depending on what businesses do, we could consider mandatory actions later on," Cuomo said.
The state has already banned mass gatherings of 500 people or more. Businesses with capacities of less than 500 are subject to an order requiring them to cut their maximum occupancy by 50%.
The governor directed nonessential state personnel in downstate New York — including and south of Rockland County — to work from home. That area is being targeted because it's where the most cases have been reported.
Coronavirus is also affecting the state court system. While essential services will be available, nonessential actions will be postponed.
As several counties declare states of emergency and close schools, Cuomo repeated his stance that it's "not easy" to temporarily shutter schools. His main concern is that a statewide action would create a childcare crisis for families. He also worries that if schools close, healthcare workers would need to stay at home to watch their children.
"Address the negatives of closing the schools, then yes, close the schools," he said.
Federal, state and local officials hope to limit the spread of the virus. So far, New York has 729 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. There are 137 people who have been hospitalized after contracting the virus.
As of Sunday, New York has the most confirmed cases in the country. More than 3,100 cases and over 60 deaths have been reported in the U.S.
Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.
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