Tri-state governors and local leaders jointly unleashed an urgent call for more extensive federal leadership on the coronavirus crisis Monday — calling for uniform U.S. standards on crowds, immediate infrastructure assistance on hospitals and established rules on closings nationwide.
In the meantime, tri-state governors are taking a unified stance on their own to help curb the spread of COVID-19, which has already killed at least eight people in New York and New Jersey.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday on a call with Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy that they had agreed to several rules that would extend across all three states — unprecedented coordination among states to help slow the pandemic that has infected nearly 1,000 people already across the tri-state area.
By those rules: There will be no crowds with gatherings over 50. Casinos will close Monday night regionwide, as well movie theaters and gyms. Bars and restaurants will also be shut down for dine-in activities as of 8 p.m. Monday.
“We want everybody to be home, not out,” Murphy said — and the only way to ensure that is to have a standard set of topline directives and restrictions.
All three governors blasted the federal government for “falling asleep” at the wheel, lacking testing preparation, failing to provide urgent and specific guidance at the national level and bringing in the military to streamline and facilitate efforts. They said the absence of strong U.S. leadership on these key matters has left them with no choice but to try to do it themselves.
“We’ve got to work on this together,” Lamont said. “The feds have been asleep on the draw. If we do this on a regional basis we’re gonna get through it.”
Murphy said he would expand on new statewide directives to be announced at an afternoon news briefing, but said on the call that all non-essential businesses must close at 8 p.m. nightly; non-essential travel is “strongly discouraged” between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.
At this point, there is no plan to shut down mass transit in its entirety, but Murphy said they’re working to find the “right-size” capacity to match reduced ridership. Ridership has plunged across the board amid new directives and the urgent, consistent call for “social distancing.”
New York City in Crisis
How long will it take to emerge on the other side of the pandemic? At this point, it’s difficult to tell — but it will take months, most say.
Earlier Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio warned the coronavirus crisis — the economic, social and other fallout — may ultimately compare to the United States climate during the Great Depression — and called for direct federal aid to replace lost income as anxious New Yorkers navigate their new reality.
“There has to be direct federal support to put money in people’s pockets and replace the income they’ve lost. That is the only way we’re going to get through this,” the mayor said Monday on Fox.
De Blasio seemed to be doubling down on that potential worst-case scenario, saying on MSNBC Monday, “I fear that this crisis is going to start to crescendo through April, May before it starts to get better.”
The mayor held out for at least a week as other cities and states across the country announced sweeping public school closures for two primary reasons: 1) Essential city and other workers, like the FDNY, NYPD and hospital staff, need childcare so they can go to work; and 2) So many NYC students depend on meals they get at school just to eat.
To help address those issues, de Blasio said some schools will remain open to provide grab-and-go breakfast and lunch for kids in need — and certain schools in each borough will convert to learning centers to provide some care for kids whose parents are on the front lines of the city’s new war.