New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday morning that all gatherings of more than 50 people in the state will be suspended until further notice, the latest in a series of crowd-control efforts aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus.
“There will be no more gatherings of 50-plus people, so if you were hoping to plan a graduation party you can’t do it in the state of New York,” Cuomo said during a press conference. “Stay home and order from your favorite restaurant, order from your favorite bar or whatever establishment that you were thinking of patronizing. Just order it and stay home.”
As of 8 p.m. on Monday, March 16, all bars, restaurants, movie theaters, casinos and gyms in the state are closed until further notice by order of the governor, although facilities with take-out services may still supply them. These efforts are part of the latest batch of measures being taken at every level of government and society to help “flatten the curve” of the exponential growth in new cases of COVID-19 appearing as testing for the virus becomes more widely available. These measures are also in effect in New Jersey and Connecticut, a coordinated effort by the governors to prevent what Cuomo called “state shopping,” or the movement of people to states with less restrictive policies in place.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there are 278 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nassau County (including at least one in Great Neck) and more than 2,000 in the state.
Leaders at all levels of government have taken extraordinary measures to help promote safety as confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to climb. States of emergency have been declared by the federal government, New York State, Nassau County, the Town of North Hempstead and several local villages, including the Village of Great Neck, the Village of Great Neck Estates and the Village of Kings Point. The states of emergency allow for the executives in each respective local government division to act swiftly to implement necessary measures, and free up emergency funding to help governments provide necessary services.
All public and private schools in Nassau County are closed for at least two weeks starting Monday, March 16, following an executive order from Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. The Great Neck Public Schools have announced that they will move to a distance-based learning system starting this Wednesday.
“Remote learning from home will begin for all students Pre-K through Grade 12 on Wednesday, March 18, 2020,” district officials wrote in an announcement to parents. “You will receive information on Tuesday about how this is to unfold from your child’s classroom teacher and/or building principal. We appreciate your understanding and the support you’ve shown during these trying times. Together we will navigate these uncharted waters, and our team continues to thank you and wish you good health.”
All evictions in Nassau County have been suspended temporarily. All Northwell Health hospitals, including North Shore University Hospital, have temporarily suspended elective surgeries. The Northwell laboratory in Lake Success has received approval to test for COVID-19, and that facility is expected to be joined by more in the coming weeks.
Village of Great Neck Mayor Pedram Bral released an order on March 12 saying people within the village must cease and desist assembling at public places, including houses of worship. All restaurants must remove their chairs on pain of fine or arrest. The order also limited pedestrian and vehicular traffic through the village except for essential services like fire and police department activity, ambulances, pharmaceutical and restaurant delivery/takeout services. The order will remain in effect until at least March 18, and may be extended if deemed necessary. While village hall will still continue officials business, the public is being asked to stay away for the time being.
Bral, a doctor by profession, echoed the recommendations of experts and public officials at all levels that wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water, avoid crowded public places whenever possible, cover their mouths when they cough and stay at least six feet away from others to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. While young and healthy people have relatively low COVID-19 mortality rates, the virus can be especially dangerous for the elderly or people with compromised immune systems. Bral stressed the importance of keeping safe for the sake of others and limiting risk all around.
“It is extremely important to protect people with weak immune systems or underlying respiratory problems,” Bral said. “The most important thing that we need to practice is social distancing: no kissing, no hugging, no shaking hands. Wash your hands as often as possible, cough and sneeze into the crease of your elbow. Don’t go to work if you can work from home.”
Bral added that while children have been largely unaffected by coronavirus, they can still transmit the virus to others and should also practice social distancing.
Village of Great Neck Estates Mayor William Warner has banned village establishments from preparing, selling or dispensing food and drink on their premises until at least March 20. Great Neck Estates village offices have also been closed to the public. Emergency services across the peninsula remain operational.
The upcoming elections in the villages of Great Neck Estates, Great Neck Plaza and Russell Gardens have been delayed until April 28 by executive order of the governor.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended suspending gatherings of more than 50 people for at least eight weeks. In a press briefing Monday afternoon, U.S. President Donald Trump advised people avoid gathering in groups of more than 10.
Anyone who believes they have been in close contact with somebody carrying the virus should contact a doctor, and anybody who can remain at home is advised to do so for 14 days.
Visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov for the most up-to-date information on the coronavirus and how best to protect yourself and your loved ones.