Coronavirus: New York extends stay-at-home order through May 15

Jon Campbell, New York State Team
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a daily press conference.

ALBANY – New York will extend its stay-at-home order through May 15, a move that will keep nonessential businesses closed at least until then, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.

New York's PAUSE order, first issued March 22 and extended last week, was scheduled to expire April 29 as the state continues to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

But Cuomo announced Thursday he would extend the order for a second time, arguing that it is necessary to protect against a second surge of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

The extension is also expected to keep schools closed until at least May 15, as well.

Cuomo's announcement came as the state's death toll surpassed 12,000 after 606 who tested positive for the disease died Wednesday.

But the state's hospitalization rate continued to show signs that the curve was flattening: There were about 17,000 people hospitalized for COVID-19 on Wednesday. That was down from about 18,000 each of the several days prior.

More:New York's stay at home plan is in effect. Here’s what you need to know

On Thursday, Cuomo said he was unsure how long the state's stay-at-home order will remain in effect. Any decision to lift it will be based on data, he said.

“No political decisions," Cuomo said. "No emotional decisions. Data and science. We’re talking about human lives here.”

Under the PAUSE order, all nonessential businesses are required to close all in-person operations. Those employers cannot require their workers to report to work in person, though they can work remotely.

The order also prohibits all gatherings — parties, events and the like — from taking place, while New York residents are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible unless they are making an essential trip or exercising at a safe social distance.

Cuomo issued a separate order Wednesday requiring those in New York to wear a mask or face covering in public when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance.

On Thursday, Cuomo said he would expand that order to require anyone riding public transit or riding in a for-hire vehicle like a taxi to cover their face. Public transit operators and taxi drivers will also be required to wear a mask, he said.

"If you get on the bus, you need to wear a mask," Cuomo said. "If you get on a train, you need to wear a mask."

More:Q&A: What happens if New Yorkers disobey Cuomo's coronavirus mask order?

More:Coronavirus in NY: New Yorkers must wear masks or cover face in public, Cuomo says

Jon Campbell is a New York state government reporter for the USA TODAY Network. He can be reached at JCAMPBELL1@Gannett.com or on Twitter at @JonCampbellGAN.

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This article originally appeared on New York State Team: Coronavirus: New York extends stay-at-home order through May 15