Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced the USNS Comfort will be deployed to New York harbor and is expected to arrive in April. The 1,000-bed hospital ship has 12 fully equipped operating rooms and will significantly increase New York's hospital surge capacity. The governor is meeting with leadership of the Army Corp of Engineers to discuss ways to increase hospital capacity in New York.
The governor also announced he will issue an executive order directing nonessential businesses to implement work-from-home policies effective Friday, March 20. Businesses that rely on in-office personnel must decrease their in-office workforce by 50%. The executive order exempts essential service industries, including shipping, media, warehousing, grocery and food production, pharmacies, health care providers, utilities, banks and related financial institutions, and other industries critical to the supply chain.
"We are fighting a war against this pandemic and we know that two of the most effective ways to stop it is by reducing density and increasing our hospital capacity so our health care system is not overwhelmed," Cuomo said. "The deployment of the USNS Comfort to New York is an extraordinary but necessary step to help ensure our state has the capacity to handle an influx of patients with COVID-19 and continue our efforts to contain the virus. Partnering with the private sector to require nonessential employees to work from home will also go a long way toward bending the curve. My No. 1 priority is protecting the public health so that a wave of new cases doesn't crash our hospital system, and we will continue taking any action necessary to achieve that goal."
Finally, the governor confirmed 1,008 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 2,383 cases in New York. Of the 2,383 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:
On Monday, Cuomo directed nonessential state employees statewide to work from home. The governor also directed local governments to reduce their overall workforce by 50% and allow nonessential employees to work from home.