Cuomo Extends New York COVID-19 Shutdown to May 15 as Northeastern States Coordinate Reopening Plans

Posted on: April 17, 2020, 02:11h. 

Last updated on: April 17, 2020, 11:28h.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday he has extended the statewide shutdown because of the COVID-19 outbreak to May 15. The Governor looks to work with his neighbors in New England and the Mid-Atlantic to coordinate a reopening strategy.

New York Cuomo COVID-19
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gives an update Thursday on the number of deaths because of COVID-19 in New York on Wednesday. (Image: Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

The closure means that the state’s commercial casinos and racinos will remain closed until at least that date. Cuomo’s order specifically lists casinos, as well as movie theaters, concert halls, stadiums, and large indoor shopping malls as nonessential and subject to be shut down.

The state, according to tracking data from the University of Washington, appears to be on the downward side of its COVID-19 curve. Still, the state that has been impacted the most by the coronavirus pandemic, is reporting large numbers of cases and deaths.

“The bad news is 2,000 people walked into a hospital yesterday for the first time with a disease, and the worst news is 600 people died yesterday from the disease,” Cuomo told reporters Thursday.

According to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center, New York has more than 218,000 confirmed cases and 10,913 reported deaths.

Even with New York seeing decreases in daily totals of deaths and confirmed new cases, many neighboring states have yet to hit their peak. That includes New Jersey, the state with the second-most cases with 75,317. Cuomo told reporters New York stands ready to provide New Jersey with 100 ventilators and can provide more resources if necessary.

Besides New York, the other states involved in the regional partnership are Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

Regional Approach Will Not be Lock-Step

The northeastern states aren’t the only ones that have announced a COVID-19 regional reopening partnership. Earlier this week, California, Oregon, and Washington announced a joint effort, and on Thursday Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin joined forces with Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio to coordinate their reopening plans.

The moves come as the Trump Administration, also on Thursday, released a set of guidelines states could use to help them manage the reopening process. President Trump even encouraged states to act in concert with their neighbors.

During his COVID-19 briefing Thursday, Cuomo said the regional approach won’t mean each state takes the same steps at the same time. But it will entail the governors and other key officials communicating with each other so their actions do not conflict or harm neighboring states.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy concurred during his Thursday briefing, saying the partnership will address three key areas.

First and foremost, our responsibility to 9 million residents in New Jersey,” Murphy said. “That’s job number one. The second ring out is coordination, exchanging of best ideas, harmonization with our regional neighbors. And then, finally, it is a continuation of a strong cooperation with the federal government and the Trump administration.”

Cuomo said that his decision to extend New York’s shutdown order was in coordination with plans other states in the consortium have in place.

The northeastern states aren’t the only ones keeping the shutdown in place until May 15. Earlier this week, California and the District of Columbia announced similar extensions.

NYRA Postpones Belmont Park Opening

Also on Thursday, the New York Racing Association announced that the Belmont Park spring/summer meet, which was originally set to start next Friday, will not start on time because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Belmont is located just outside of New York City’s Queens borough on Long Island.

In a statement, NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke said the organization is working with state gaming and health officials to determine when live racing could start at the track.

“The health and safety of our racing community is paramount, and any decisions or necessary adjustments to the racing schedule and operations must reflect that priority,” he said.

Live horse racing cards have not been held in New York since March 15 at Aqueduct. At that time, NYRA made the decision to suspend racing after a Belmont track worker tested positive for COVID-19. In the meantime, Aqueduct has since been transformed into a makeshift hospital to help deal with the dramatic rise in patients that overwhelmed New York City’s hospitals.

O’Rourke also said racing officials will discuss with the state and other stakeholders on a decision when to run the Belmont Stakes. Currently, the third leg of racing’s Triple Crown is scheduled to run on June 6. However, the Kentucky Derby has been pushed back to Sept. 5 at Churchill Downs, and earlier this month, officials at Pimlico Race Course announced the Preakness will be rescheduled.

The Belmont is scheduled, for now, for June 6.

“The Belmont Stakes is a New York institution and American tradition,” said O’Rourke. “We are committed to running the race in 2020 and aim to deliver an announcement in the very near future.”