New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that while New Yorkers have shown they can "change the curve" and control the spread of the coronavirus, there are still about 2,000 people a day who are being diagnosed with COVID-19 in the state.
"We're still in the woods," he said.
Cuomo said New York recorded 752 new deaths due to the virus – close to the number of deaths the day before:
Cuomo said, however, that the healthcare system has basically stabilized and the "infection spread" is down to a "manageable number."
Face coverings to be required in public
Cuomo said he is signing an executive order stating all New Yorkers must have a mask or mouth and nose covering when they are not maintaining social distancing in public. Cuomo laid out several situations where people should wear masks, including riding public transit, standing on a subway platform or walking in a busy neighborhood.
"[If] you're not going to be able to maintain social distancing, you must wear a mask or cloth or an attractive bandana or a color-coordinated bandana, but you have to wear it in those situations," Cuomo said.
People who violate the order could eventually face a civil penalty. "You're not going to jail for not wearing a mask," Cuomo said.
Cuomo said the order will go into effect on Friday to give people time to adjust.
New York will conduct 2,000 antibody tests per day, Cuomo says
Cuomo said the best tool to reopen the economy is large-scale testing, to find out who has COVID-19 and who has coronavirus antibodies.
He said the New York State Department of Health has developed its own antibody test – a test that is in the state's control. "We'll actually do those tests. We don't need a private lab," he said.
This week, the state will begin conducting 2,000 finger-prick antibody tests per day. First responders, healthcare workers and essential workers will be prioritized, he said.
State officials have also asked the FDA for expedited approval of an antibody test that could test up to 100,000 people per day, he said. "That's then 500,000 a week, if you don't work the weekends," Cuomo said.
"We've only done 500,000 to date, so you get a sense of how powerful that would be if the FDA approves that," he said.