NEW YORK (AP) — The sights and sounds of New York City are shutting down to cope with the coronavirus. Cultural institutions are closing, as are Broadway shows. Ridership on mass transit is down, and gatherings of more than 500 people have been banned.
A look at some of the impacts in New York state and New York City:
Despite mounting pressure, schools in New York City remain open, making it an outlier among a growing list of cities and states, from Pennsylvania to Oregon, that are closing schools for a week or more as part of a nationwide attempt to limit the spread of what’s known as COVID-19.
Mayor Bill de Blasio raised concerns about the unintended consequences of leaving more than 1.1 million students with no place to go. He said a shutdown could end up lasting the rest of the school year, or even the calendar year, once “momentum is lost.”
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson was among those who urged the mayor Friday to shutter the district, the nation’s largest.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn said they would close elementary schools in their systems for at least a week, and the Success Academy charter school chain said it would suspend on-campus instruction.
NO LARGE GATHERINGS
As of 5 p.m. Friday, the state is temporarily banning gatherings of 500 people or more, and venues that can fit under 500 people can only be filled to half of their capacity. The ban does not apply to hospitals, schools, nursing homes and mass transit.
TESTING CENTER OPENS
New York state opened its first drive-through coronavirus testing center Friday in the hard-hit suburb of New Rochelle, north of New York City. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said allowing people to be tested from their cars is safer and faster than sending them to doctors’ waiting rooms.
The New York Police Department has given out 67,550 pairs of gloves and 26,440 masks to officers, along with disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer. About 500,000 additional masks are in storage, with more on the way, officials said.
A police union, the Police Benevolent Association, had filed a complaint with a state labor agency this week, alleging the police department failed to provide adequate protective equipment, including masks and gloves, to all police officers.
City officials pushed back on that, with Mayor Bill de Blasio saying the union was spreading “misinformation.”
So far, no NYPD officers have tested positive for the virus, but more than a dozen remain in self-quarantine for various reasons.
The curtain went down on Broadway shows starting at 5 p.m. Thursday and though April 12. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall and the New York Public Library are also among the arts institutions that announced closings. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been postponed.
New York City had more than 150 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Friday afternoon. There are more than 420 cases statewide. The largest cluster is in New Rochelle, in suburban Westchester County. The virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough for most people, and the vast majority of people recover. But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and death.
GOVERNOR SAYS DAUGHTER EXPOSED
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said one of his three daughters has been in quarantine because she was exposed to someone with COVID-19. “I had to talk myself through the reality of the situation, I had to calm myself,” Cuomo said at a news briefing.
STAYING OFF THE TRAINS AND ROADS
Ridership on public transportation has dropped significantly from a comparable day a year ago. State officials said there’s been a decline of 18.65% on subways, 31% on Long Island Rail Road and 48% on Metro-North Railroad. Traffic at Metropolitan Transportation Authority bridges and tunnels has declined by 6.7%.