By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - The U.S. state of New York will extend its shutdown of non-essential businesses and stay-at-home orders until at least May 15, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.
"I don't want to project beyond that period," Cuomo told reporters during a daily news conference. "One month is a long time. People need certainty and clarity so they can plan. I need a coordinated action plan with the other states, so one month we'll continue the close down policies."
After that period is met, Cuomo said he and other regional governors will use available health data to determine if policies would continue to fully shutter non-essential businesses, or if a phased reopening could begin.
The shutdown was set to expire at the end of April.
The state continues to see a decline in the daily hospitalization rate, which Cuomo described as "good news," as were the numbers of intensive care admissions and intubations.
"It means we can control the virus, we can control the spread. And we did not know for sure that we could do that," he said.
Still, 606 lives were lost and 2,000 were hospitalized Wednesday. While that is the lowest daily death toll recorded in more than a week, Cuomo described the rate of deaths as "still continuing at a really tragic, tragic rate."
The governor ordered residents on Tuesday to begin wearing face masks whenever they are in public and unable to adhere to social distancing protocols.
New York continues to be the U.S. state hardest-hit by the coronavirus outbreak, with 214,832 confirmed infections and 14,636 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins.