LONG ISLAND, NY — The lights will be turned off on Broadway as New York banned large gatherings statewide, a rare and extraordinary move announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as the number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus swelled to 328.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, the governor announced that all gatherings of more than 500 people will be banned to help mitigate the spread of the disease, which has infected 41 in Nassau County and 20 in Suffolk. Venues that hold less than 500 people will have to operate at 50 percent capacity, Cuomo said, making the maximum occupancy 250.

The new rules take effect 5 p.m. Friday and will be enforced by local authorities. The ban goes into effect at Broadway theaters at 5 p.m. Thursday. Businesses that violate the ban could face fines or given orders to shut down. The ban does not apply to schools, hospitals, nursing 五福彩票6688下载s, government buildings and mass transit facilities, though the state banned visitors at nursing 五福彩票6688下载s and senior facilities. All staff at the facilities will also have to wear face masks and be monitored for symptoms of the coronavirus.

At least 472 people were in mandatory or precautionary quarantine in Nassau County and at least 16 were in mandatory quarantine in Suffolk. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone declared a state of emergency in the county and Nassau County Executive Laura Curran declared the virus an imminent threat to public health. Both took the measure to help authorize more spending to combat the virus.


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Officials said mass transit is somewhat "self-correcting" for the virus, as ridership plummeted across the system. The Long Island Rail Road has seen a 31 percent drop in riders while Metro North saw ridership fall by half, officials said. The New York City subway system ridership dropped 18 percent.

"If you care about someone in a nursing 五福彩票6688下载, the last thing you want is to endanger that person," Cuomo said.

Nassau County continues to have the highest number of cases on Long Island with 41. One of those patients is in serious condition and 10 people are currently hospitalized, county officials said at a news conference Thursday. One of the patients in Nassau County is an 81-year-old woman who was living at The Bristal at North Hills, an assisted living community. Officials said she is hospitalized and not the patient in critical condition.

"We will get through this, but we need your help," Curran said. "Containing community spread is the best thing we can do to protect ourselves and protect our communities."

To help deal with the outbreak, Cuomo said that the state would be "taking matters into its own hands" and would contract with 28 private labs to increase testing for the virus.

"We're not in a position where we can rely on the CDC or FDA to managing this testing protocol," Cuomo said.

Cuomo said if the FDA approves the measure, the state could test up to 5,000 people a day.

Though the virus continues to spread, Nassau County health officials urged people to remain calm and to make sure they're getting information from a reputable source.

"It's time for us all to take a deep breath," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. "Maybe take a break from social media and arm yourself with the facts."

Officials urged people to not believe everything they read on social media. They said combating the spread of disinformation is one of the harder parts of dealing with the outbreak.

Nassau County Health Commissioner Dr. Larry Eisenstein also pointed out that of the more than 121,000 cases of the virus worldwide, not one child has died.

"It's really good news that children are doing well," he said. "And that's very different from some other viruses, like the flu."

There are now 1,323 cases of the virus in the United States, with 38 deaths, according to statistics from Johns Hopkins University. There have not been any deaths in New York. Here are the latest numbers for infections in New York:

  • Westchester: 148
  • NYC: 95
  • Nassau: 41
  • Suffolk: 20
  • Rockland: 7
  • Ulster: 4
  • Albany: 2
  • Orange: 2
  • Broome: 1
  • Delaware: 1
  • Dutchess: 1
  • Herkimer: 1
  • Monroe: 2

Westchester County, and specifically New Rochelle, has the highest concentration of cases in the country五福彩票6688下载. To combat that, Cuomo enacted a one-mile containment area around the highest cluster of cases. All schools and large gathering areas in the radius were closed, and the National Guard was deployed to distribute food and help in cleaning public spaces.

Cuomo also declared a state of emergency in response to the virus — making New York one of 13 states to do so. Cuomo said it will allow him to more freely send resources to affected areas and make it easier for the state to purchase supplies it needs to combat the virus.

The state is assessing health care facilities to make sure they have the capacity to handle patients in case more people need to be hospitalized, Cuomo said. One measure the state may take is to cancel elective surgeries, which Cuomo said can make up 25 to 35 percent of patients in a hospital at any given time.

Nassau County has also taken action against businesses that are price gouging in the face of the virus. Eight businesses were fined thousands of dollars for increasing the price on products like face masks and hand sanitizer, as well as selling masks individually when they are not labeled for individual sale. Anyone who suspects a business of price gouging should email the county at PriceGouging@NassauCountyny.gov.

Cuomo also directed the state's Department of State's Consumer Protection Division to investigate price gouging. Anyone who suspects a business of doing so should call the state's toll-free hotline at 1-800-697-1220.

Multiple colleges across Long Island closed or are considering doing so. Adelphi University was the latest college to announce closures due to coronavirus. Hofstra University announced on Monday that it canceled classes for a week. Nassau Community College canceled classes Wednesday. Molloy College announced it canceled classes until March 28. Stony Brook University also said it was considering shifting classes online.

Additionally, Cuomo announced on Wednesday that, starting March 19, all SUNY and CUNY campuses will switch to distance learning. Students in dormitories will forced to go 五福彩票6688下载, but it may be encouraged, officials said. The change will be in effect for the rest of the semester. It may also mean that many graduation ceremonies won't happen, officials said.

SUNY and CUNY schools recalled 300 students who were studying abroad in countries affected by the virus. Of those, 22 are from Long Island.

In addition to colleges, many events across Long Island are being canceled at a rapid pace. Many St. Patrick's Day parades were canceled or postponed. Suffolk County canceled all of its parades. The Jurassic World Live Tour at Nassau Coliseum was also canceled and the College Board canceled three SAT exams that were to be administered on Long Island this weekend.

Coronavirus fears led Starbucks to announce that customers will no longer be able to have their personal cups filled. "For here" cups were also prohibited. Those who bring in their own cups will have to take a disposable cup. Many other Long Island businesses are following suit and making changes. And the Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre said it would change some of the rites at Mass to curtail physical contact.

Coronavirus in New York

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