Face Masks to Be Mandated in Public Settings By Friday

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All New York residents must wear facial covering in public starting Friday if they are unable to maintain the social distancing standard of at least six feet between themselves and others.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he will issue an executive order as part of a strategy to help stop the spread of the coronavirus that has killed more than 11,000 New Yorkers.

“You don’t have a right to infect me,” Cuomo said. “If you are going to be in a situation in public where you may come into contact with other people in a situation that is not socially distanced, you must have a mask or a cloth covering for your nose and mouth.”

The order will carry civil fines if citizens fail to comply, and local authorities would be in charge of enforcement, Cuomo said. However, the goal of the order is to convince the state’s residents to take the measure seriously and hopes with peer pressure there will be self-enforcement, he said.

Another 752 state residents died on Tuesday from the highly contagious COVID-19, adding to the alarming death toll during the past week. More than 600 Westchester residents and 20 Putnam County residents have died from the virus through Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Cuomo provided a glimpse of how reopening the economy might proceed by saying the state is developing a matrix to calibrate which are the next most essential businesses and operations balanced by the risk of the rate of infection spread.

However, the governor reiterated that there needs to be a large increase in diagnostic and antibody testing ramped up to a large scale for the state to begin reopening parts of the economy. While the state has developed its own antibody test to determine who my have had COVID-19 and is likely immune from the virus, help from the federal government is needed, said Cuomo.

“It is very hard to bring this to scale quickly,” he said. “We need the federal government to be part of this.”

By the end of the week the state will be completing 2,000 antibody tests a day and will soon be able to conduct 100,000 high-speed finger prick tests. There must also be widescale tracing, he said.

“The more testing, the more open the economy but there’s not enough national capacity to do this,” Cuomo said.

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