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New York orders "non-essential" workers to stay home. Here's what that means.

N.Y. shuts down "non-essential" businesses

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that all non-essential employees in New York have been ordered to work from home and to remain indoors as much as possible.  The order, which goes into effect Sunday, is an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.

There are more than 7,100 cases in New York, Cuomo said Friday. It's the highest number of cases of any state in the country. There have been 35 deaths.

Cuomo said he is taking "full responsibility" for the order. "If somebody wants to blame someone or complain about someone, blame me. There is no one else who is responsible for this decision," Cuomo said.  

Here is who qualifies as essential employees:

  • Essential health care operations, including research and laboratory services
  • Essential infrastructure, including utilities
  • Telecommunication
  • Airports and transportation infrastructure
  • Essential manufacturing, including food processing and pharmaceuticals
  • Essential retail, including grocery stores and pharmacies
  • Essential services, including trash collection
  • Mail and shipping services
  • News media
  • Banks and related financial institutions
  • Providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations 
  • Construction
  • Vendors of essential services necessary to maintain the safety
  • Sanitation and essential operations of residences or other essential businesses
  • Vendors that provide essential services or products, including logistics and technology support.
  • Child care and services needed to ensure the continuing operation of government agencies and provide for the health, safety and welfare of the public.

Additional guidance posted by the state notes that services like laundromats and animal-care clinics are also considered essential. 

Cuomo also announced that hospitals are planning on canceling all non-critical, elective surgeries, which will free up 25%-35% of all hospital beds. He also asked for retired doctors and nurses to come back into service and calling on nursing and medical schools to pitch in. There will also be a moratorium on evictions.

As part of the executive order, Cuomo announced "Matilda's Law," named after his mother, to help protect seniors, immune-compromised people and those with underlying illnesses.

This part of the order requires those people to: 

  • Remain indoors, go outside for solitary exercise.
  • Prescreen all visitors and aides.
  • Don't visit households with multiple people.
  • All vulnerable people should wear masks in the company of others, everyone in the company of vulnerable people should wear masks.
  • Don't take public transportation unless urgent.
  • Stay six feet away from people.
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