Gov. Andrew Cuomo closes NYC playgrounds; Florida orders 30-day lockdown

Photo Courtesy: cdc.gov

April 1 (UPI) — New York’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic is approaching 2,000, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday — as his counterpart in Florida finally dropped resistance to imposing a statewide lockdown to stem the spread.

At his briefing update, Cuomo said New York has recorded 400 more deaths, bringing the state total to 1,941. The number of cases in the state, the U.S. epicenter of the outbreak, grew by about 8,000, he added.

Cuomo also ordered all playgrounds and basketball courts in New York City, which are usual hotspots for activity, to close.

“I warned people that if they didn’t stop the density and the [basketball] games in the playgrounds … that we would close [them],” he said.

The governor added, however, that open spaces in parks will stay open to provide residents with areas to exercise with less density.

In Florida Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis imposed a 30-day stay-home order barring residents from venturing outside except for essential purposes. For weeks he refused to issue the order, instead favoring a statewide encouragement for Floridians to remain mostly at home.

Florida has about 6,700 cornavirus cases.

DeSantis, a Republican and close political ally of President Donald Trump’s, said a day earlier he hadn’t been asked by the White House to issue a stay-home order.

“The task force has not recommended that to me. If they do, obviously that would be something that carries a lot of weight with me,” he said.

His 30-day order, which takes effect at midnight Thursday, requires limited movements and personal interactions. Earlier this week, DeSantis gave a similar order for southeastern Florida, where most of the state’s population lives.

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At least 33 states and the District of Columbia have issued orders to stay home.

In the United States, there are nearly 190,000 cases and more than 4,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Wednesday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reviewing its thinking about otherwise healthy people wearing face masks to ward off the virus.

Adams, the CDC, and the World Health Organization had all previously said it was not necessary for the general public to wear face masks.

“We’ve learned there’s a fair amount of asymptomatic spread and so we’ve asked the CDC to take another look at whether or not having more people wear masks will prevent transmission of the disease to other people,” he told ABC’s Good Morning America.

In New Jersey, authorities have charged 10 people who attended an engagement party with violating lockdown rules. Police in Lakewood, N.J., broke up the party Tuesday afternoon.

“No more knucklehead gatherings or parties. We have got to stay home,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said.

Wednesday, Disney Parks announced it’s donated more than 100,000 N95 face masks to areas in New York, California and Florida for use by front-line medical and emergency workers.

Disney, which closed Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida last week, said it’s also donated 150,000 rain ponchos to humanitarian aid organization MedShare to give hospitals for use as an alternative to surgical gowns, which are in short supply in some locations.

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