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N.Y. business closures extended until May 15; NYC faces $7B in lost revenue

By Don Jacobson
N.Y. business closures extended until May 15; NYC faces $7B in lost revenue
A pedestrian crosses a quiet Brooklyn Bridge in New York City on Wednesday. Mayor Bill de Blasio said at his daily briefing the city must make more than $3 billion in budget cuts due to the coronavirus crisis. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

April 16 (UPI) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended the closure of non-essential businesses through May 15 on Thursday as the state's COVID-19 death toll surpassed 12,000.

The 10-point "New York Pause" executive order, which took effect on March 22, was scheduled to expire Thursday. It mandates that all non-essential businesses statewide be closed, imposes a ban on large social gatherings and calls for social distancing measures in public.

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Cuomo said the extension is being made in concert with the neighboring states of New Jersey and Connecticut.

"For one month we'll continue the close-down policies," he said. "What happens after then? I don't know, we will see depending on what the data shows."

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The move came as New York recorded another 606 deaths from the coronavirus. The state and New York City are U.S. epicenters for the coronavirus outbreak. There have so far been nearly 214,000 cases statewide and 118,000 in New York City. More than 12,000 have died in the state, health officials said.

Nationwide, there have been almost 650,000 cases and 28,500 dead.

Still, the rate of increase in hospitalizations in New York continues to decline, with the rate of admissions to intensive care units making a significant dip.

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"When you see the reduction in rate, remember what we're talking about," Cuomo said. "We're talking about a reduction in increases. You still have 2,000 people every day, about, who are walking into a hospital for the first time or are being diagnosed with COVID for the first time, and 2,000 is still a lot of people."

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in an update Thursday the city expects to lose $7.4 billion in tax revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic, and urged President Donald Trump to support another round of federal aid.

At his daily briefing, the mayor said the substantial revenue drop -- forecast in an outlook for both fiscal 2020 and 2021 -- is due mainly to coronavirus-related restrictions that have closed businesses and persuaded millions to stay at home to slow the spread of the disease.

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De Blasio noted that New York City will have to make $3.4 billion in cuts and draw down on its reserve fund to balance an $89 billion budget for 2021, while still helping to protect residents and keep them fed and sheltered during the crisis.

"We had to shut down our retail stores. We had to shut down bars and restaurants. We had to change our lives fundamentally," the mayor said.

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De Blasio appealed for Trump to support the "Stimulus 3.5" bill that's been proposed by congressional Democrats. The package includes $250 billion in direct aid to state and local governments facing fiscal challenges due to the crisis.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers, however, have not come to an agreement on the measure.

"[It is] clearly time for President Trump to speak up," De Blasio said.

"The notion of this city 'recovering' doesn't work if you can't do the basics," he added. "Everyone wants a restart, everyone wants our economy to recover. I know everyone in Washington feels that, too.

"But there has to be a really clear understanding. If we can't provide the basics for our people, then you can kiss your recovery goodbye. It's as blunt as that."

As dozens of unclaimed bodies of New York coronavirus victims were being buried on Hart Island in Long Island Sound, a local design business owner is preparing plans for a memorial light installation on the 131-acre island.

John Beckmann of Axis Mundi Design said he will submit a proposal to the city's parks department in which 12 light beacons would be arrayed in a grid and activated at certain times of the year to honor both the known and unknown victims interred there.

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The island has been used as a mass burial ground before, most recently during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has warned that large gatherings such as those for professional and college sports could remain banned in the city until at least 2021.

"It's difficult to imagine us getting together in the thousands any time soon," he told CNN on Wednesday. "I think we should be prepared for that this year. I think we all have never wanted science to work so quickly.

"But until there's either a vaccine, some sort pharmaceutical intervention or herd immunity, the science is the science."

But, he added, "I hope we can watch sporting events without audiences on TV."

If a ban is extended through the rest of the year, the long-anticipated opening of SoFi Stadium -- the new home of the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers of the NFL -- could be made to empty seats.

California, meanwhile, reported its first day of more than 100 deaths from COVID-19.

The state's toll rose to nearly 900 with 101 new deaths reported on Wednesday, according to tally kept by the Los Angeles Times.

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COVID-19 pandemic alters life in New York City

Mannequins with face masks and designer clothing fill a window at a Diane Von Furstenberg store in New York City on September 8, 2020. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

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