New York and other East Coast states are extending their shutdown of nonessential businesses to May 15 in response to the coronavirus pandemic, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.
The lockdown had been scheduled to lift on April 30.
"New York on PAUSE will be extended in coordination with other states to May 15," Cuomo said on Twitter. "Non-essential workers must continue to stay home. Social distancing rules remain in place. We must STAY THE COURSE."
Cuomo added another 606 confirmed deaths Thursday to the state's growing toll, which has now surpassed 12,000. But this was the first time the daily death toll has sharply declined since the crisis started.
"I know this is hard," Cuomo said in a follow-up tweet. "I wish I could say this will be over soon, but I can’t. We must make decisions based on the science and the data. Human lives are at stake."
Cuomo and six other governors from Northeast states - New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Delaware - are coordinating their responses to the pandemic.
State lockdowns have been a source of controversy as President Donald Trump has asserted that ending such a lockdown is his decision.
The White House said Thursday that it has scheduled a conference call with governors today to discuss its own hopes for a May 1 reopening in some states.
On Wednesday Trump said the U.S. had passed the peak of the coronavirus pandemic and that some states would reopen before his May 1 deadline.
Cuomo also expanded his order that New Yorkers carry face coverings when they are in public and wear them when when they cannot maintain social distance.
Face coverings must be worn by everyone on mass transit or in for-hire vehicles, including the operators, and they must also be worn by all children age 2 or older. The order goes into effect Friday.