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New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, on Thursday, April 16, 2020 extended the state’s shutdown to stem the spread of coronavirus until May 15.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York

“Non-essential workers must continue to stay home. Social distancing rules remain in place,” Cuomo tweeted, saying the extension was “in coordination with other states”.

Speaking at a daily news conference, the governor said the state continued to make progress in containing the spread of the virus thanks to social distancing policies.

“We’ve controlled the beast. We brought the rate of spread down,” Cuomo said, noting a decreasing rate of hospitalisations, ICU admissions and intubations.

“What happens after then? I don’t know. We will see depending on what the data shows,” he said of the May 15 extension.

Cuomo said the first step to reopening New York’s economy was “don’t let that infection rate go up.”

The state also needed to strengthen the health-care system and conduct widespread testing and contact tracing, for which “we need the federal government to work with us,” Cuomo said.

He said 606 more people died of the virus, bringing the death toll to more than 12,000 in the state, the epicentre of the pandemic in the U.S.

New York City, which is particularly hard-hit, is set to use 11,000 empty hotel rooms, initially meant to serve as temporary hospitals, for people who need to quarantine, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

He said the city will offer the rooms to those in overcrowded homes and hard-hit neighbourhoods, health-care workers and the homeless.

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