New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will sign an executive order that requires everyone in the state to wear a mask or a mouth/nose covering in public when not social distancing, he said Wednesday.
There will be a three-day notice period before the order is enforced, allowing New Yorkers to secure masks or coverings. He said he is considering a civil penalty for those who break the rule.
The decision was announced as Cuomo said that another 752 people died from coronavirus on Tuesday, a slight decrease from the previous day and further evidence that New York has reached a plateau in its outbreak. Hospitalizations -- both the net change and the three-day average -- as well as admissions to the intensive care unit and intubations across New York are down, he said.
"You see the flattening of the curve," Cuomo said. "We're not out of the woods ... but we can control the spread."
New York remains the epicenter of the American coronavirus outbreak and, with over 200,000 cases, accounts for about one-third of the country's cases. More than 11,500 people have died from coronavirus in the state.
The pandemic is still a serious public health issue, but the "health situation has stabilized," Cuomo said.
Given that stabilization, New York will send 100 ventilators to Michigan and 50 to Maryland in an effort to mitigate death rates there, he said.
"I will never forget the generosity people across the country showed our state," he said.
The question for Cuomo, and for governors across the country, is how to go about reopening the economy without setting off another outbreak for a virus with no vaccine and no proven therapeutic treatment. New York joined a regional coalition with the Northeastern states of New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Rhode Island and Massachusetts to coordinate the reopening of the economy.
Cuomo said there will be a phased reopening of New York until a vaccine is available. Reopening will be based on public safety and the infection rate, he said. All states are having a hard time bringing coronavirus testing to scale quickly, Cuomo said Wednesday.
"Every governor is now in the same situation," he said, citing conversations with his counterparts across the country.
The states need assistance from the federal government to bring testing to scale, he said, adding "the more testing, the more opening of the economy."