ALBANY – Wednesday's village elections in New York have been postponed until April 28 as the state continues to try to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.
The move comes just hours after Cuomo announced schools in the state would be closing for at least two-weeks and issued an order shuttering bars and restaurants at 8 p.m.
"Public health officials have been clear that reducing density is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread, and delaying village elections will help ensure poll workers and voters are not potentially exposed to the virus and at the same time maintain integrity in our election system," Cuomo said in a statement.
Village elections will now be held on April 28, the same day as the state's presidential primary, Cuomo said.
Additional steps to slow the spread
On Monday, Cuomo issued an order prohibiting gatherings of 50 or more people along with governors from Connecticut and New Jersey, and moved close all bars and restaurants to customers as of 8 p.m. March 16, in order to further reduce crowds.
Restaurants will still open for take-out.
State workers from Rockland County and below — about half the state's workforce — have been ordered to work from home. The remaining state workforce has been ordered to reduce in-person staffing by 50% where possible.
A growing number of cases
New York has among the highest recorded cases of COVID-19 in the country.
A total of 950 people in the state have tested positive for the virus so far, but health officials expect that number to rise as more testing is performed in the days and weeks ahead.
Seven people have died as a result, and hundreds more are hospitalized.
Cuomo criticized the federal government for its handling of the coronavirus, and has called on the federal government to mobilize the Army Corps of Engineers to identify additional hospital needed to ensure the state has the necessary resources to combat the virus.
Chad Arnold is a staff writer for the USA TODAY Network New York. He can be reached at CGARNOLD@Gannett.com and followed on Twitter: @ChadGArnold