Against a nationwide background of some protests against wearing masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, President Trump’s preference not to wear one and occasional confrontations between store employees and people refusing to wear masks, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo today issued an Executive Order authorizing businesses in New York state to deny entry to individuals who do not wear masks or face-coverings.
“They are amazingly effective,” Cuomo said of masks. “When we’re talking about reopening stores and places of business, we’re giving the store owners the right to say if you’re not wearing a mask, you can’t come in. That store owner has a right to protect themselves. That store owner has a right to protect the other patrons in that store. You don’t want to wear a mask, fine, but you don’t have a right to then go into that store if that store owner doesn’t want you to.”
Cuomo also announced a partnership with actress and community activist Rosie Perez and comedian and actor Chris Rock, who will help New York state build communication and education on the importance of wearing a mask and social distancing and the availability of testing and health care in the state.
“Wear a mask, please,” Perez said. “The numbers in our communities are staggering. This is not a joke. This is not a hoax. This is real.”
Rock said, “Get tested, wear a mask. It’s like when the doctor prescribes antibiotics. He says take the whole prescription and if you stop, whatever you came in there for is going to come back worse. So social distancing is what was the prescription and we need to take the whole dose. Or else it is going to get worse.”
Perez and Rock were with Cuomo at a news conference at the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club in Brooklyn.
Cuomo said they are targeting certain communities within New York City to promote testing and the use of masks.
“You have communities that have double the infection rate of the city in general. The city in general is about 20% infection rate,” Cuomo said. “Brownsville, Brooklyn 41% infection rate. East Bronx, 38% infection rate. Soundview, Bruckner section of the Bronx, 38% infection rate. Hollis, Queens, my old neighborhood, 35% infection rate. Flatbush, Brooklyn, 45% infection rate.”
Cuomo used the news conference as an opportunity to continue pressing the Senate and White House to get on board the House-passed bill that would provide aid to state and local governments and eliminate SALT, the tax law change that eliminated full-deductibility of state and local taxes on federal income tax returns.
He reiterated his call for Trump to follow through on a campaign promise and support infrastructure rebuilding projects such as the rail tunnels under the Hudson River and the rebuilding of LaGuardia Airport.
“They should be talking about revitalizing the economy, not just reopening the economy,” Cuomo said. “I don’t believe you just reopen the economy and it bounces back for everyone. I think it bounces back for the big corporations. I think it bounces back for the rich. I think it bounces back for the powerful.”
Cuomo reported that there were 74 new deaths from COVID-19 in New York on Thursday, with the number of new COVID cases at 163. Statewide there have been a total of 23,722 COVID-19 deaths, according to statistics obtained this afternoon from the state Department of Health.
Deaths in Westchester total 1,481. Rockland has lost a total of 494 of its residents to the disease. There were no new deaths in Putnam again yesterday, with the total remaining at 59. There have been 374 Orange County residents lost to the virus and 146 deaths in Dutchess County.
New York has had 366,733 people test positive for the virus. There were 33,293 cases identified in Westchester, 13,076 in Rockland, 1,236 in Putnam, 10,325 in Orange and 3,867 in Dutchess.