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New York State Goes 'On Pause,' Orders New Closings For Nonessential Businesses


And let's go next to New York, where the governor has instituted similar restrictions. New York now leads the nation in known coronavirus infections, about 8,000 cases, most of them in New York City, which is where we find NPR's Quil Lawrence.

Hey, Quil.


KELLY: So what are these restrictions that Gov. Cuomo has announced?

LAWRENCE: He called it New York being on pause. It's a softer way of saying it's on lockdown. Nonessential businesses should be shut. Everyone should stay home. There are a lot of essential businesses, though, everything to do with transit and health and food and restaurants, groceries, pharmacies. He said that individuals should stay home. Groups that are found outside will be told to disperse - ordered to disperse. He said those who are over 70 should just not leave their homes, wear masks if they do. And Cuomo said he knew this was going to cost an enormous economic blow to the city, and he said that's on him.


ANDREW CUOMO: Some people say that we don't need to do this. It's going to hurt the economy. I understand that. This is about saving lives. And if everything we do saves just one life, I'll be happy.

KELLY: He says he'll be happy, but I want to note that the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, was on our member station WNYC today. And he was sounding a very different tone, much less diplomatic.

LAWRENCE: Right. De Blasio was clearly angry on the radio this morning, I mean, seeing the same growing urgency that the governor is. But what he was saying is that the federal action just hasn't been there. He said he's been asking everyone from the VA secretary to the vice president, asking the White House. And he just hasn't heard and hasn't seen their help coming. And he blames the president.


BILL DE BLASIO: They're not responding. And they're not responding either out of ignorance, or they're not responding on purpose, which I think history is going to judge very harshly. You know, we're talking about, ironically, a New Yorker in the White House who right now is betraying New York City.

LAWRENCE: De Blasio had been pushing for a while for shelter in place, and Cuomo didn't use those words, but essentially that's what he called for. They're both seeing these same dire numbers and estimates that New York will at some point in the near future have double the number of patients as it has beds, maybe triple the number of ventilators - or rather triple the number of patients who need ventilators as there are available.

KELLY: Just before I let you go, Quil, what's it feel like in New York? I'm struggling to imagine a New York City on pause, anything other than vibrant and loud.

LAWRENCE: Yeah. I mean, we're in weird, different worlds. There are places that you can jaywalk right now that I never would have dreamed of crossing the street before. Some families are on lockdown and, you know, talking to their friends over Skype and Zoom. But when you cautiously, you know, venture out, you see groups of kids playing basketball - oblivious. And I think medical professionals in particular are living in a third reality, which is something of the future knowledge of what's to come unless there's a real Herculean effort to increase capacity.

KELLY: All right. Thank you, Quil. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Quil Lawrence is a New York-based correspondent for NPR News, covering veterans' issues nationwide. He won a Robert F. Kennedy Award for his coverage of American veterans and a Gracie Award for coverage of female combat veterans. In 2019 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America honored Quil with its IAVA Salutes Award for Leadership in Journalism.
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