THE COVID CRISIS: Mayor de Blasio, And NYPD Prepare To Enforce New COVID-29 Guidelines From Harlem Hollis

March 23, 2020

Mayor de Blasio today updated New Yorkers on the City’s response to COVID-19. Effective today, Sunday, March 22, at 8:00 PM the City will enforce the closure of all non-essential businesses in New York City, pursuant to State regulations.

As of 10:00 AM today, citywide, there are 9,654 positive cases of COVID-19 and 63 fatalities. Currently, there are 2,715 cases in Queens 2,072 in Manhattan, 2,857 in Brooklyn, 1,411 in the Bronx, and 593 in Staten Island. There are 63 confirmed COVID-related fatalities.

“I need every New Yorker to understand how serious the situation is right now. We have to change the way we live if we’re going to bend the curve of this epidemic. Do your part: stay home. That is the single most important thing someone can do right now. Protect yourself and save lives: only go out for the essentials,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

New Restrictions

Effective today, March 22nd, at 8:00 PM, all non-essential businesses in New York City will be closed. Only businesses with essential functions will be permitted to operate. Examples include grocery stores, pharmacies, internet providers, food delivery, banks, financial institutions and mass transit. Businesses that provide essential services must implement rules that help facilitate social distancing. The NYPD will be out in neighborhoods across the City to ensure compliance with these policies.

The City will also enforce the following rules for non-vulnerable individuals with fines and mandatory closures:

  • No non-essential gatherings; any concentration of people outside their home must be limited to workers providing essential services
  • Practice social distancing in public (6 feet or more)
  • Limit use of public transportation to only when absolutely necessary.
  • Sick individuals should not leave home except to receive medical care.

Update on the City’s Jail Population

Today, 23 individuals will be released from City jail facilities, bringing the total released up to 27, a subset of the 40 detainees for which the City previously announced plans to release. They are at high-risk for COVID-19 related complications and low-risk of re-offending. Most of the remaining individuals are parole re-offenders and under the discretion of the State. The City is working with the State to pursue their release, as well.

The City has compiled an additional list of 200 detainees for potential release, all of whom are serving City sentences of 90-days or less. Final decisions will be issued tomorrow.

Correctional Health Services is now screening detainees before entering and leaving city jail facilities. Those who manifest symptoms while attempting to enter will be isolated from the general population. All staff will be screened before entering, as well. To ensure the Correctional Health Services is able to adequately house detainees with COVID-19, the Department of Correction will be utilizing its communicable disease unit and is opening additional housing units to expand spaces for isolation and increase social distancing.

Update on Testing Sites

Following guidance from the City’s Health Department, NYC Health + Hospitals is reserving testing for patients needing hospitalization or as clinically appropriate. It will continue to have clinicians in its call center to talk to thousands of New Yorkers every day and advise them stay at home if they don’t need to come to the emergency department (ED). NYC Health + Hospitals is no longer doing testing by appointment and will instead use its testing centers (tents) to divert patients from the ED. In line with this new guidance, NYC Health + Hospitals drive up testing sites at H+H/ Jacobi and H+H/ Coney Island are no longer operating. For both locations, resources will be shifted to tents near their emergency departments.

GenMark and Cepheid Approval

The FDA has issued Emergency Use Authorization for GenMark Diagnostics’ and Cepheid COVID-19 tests, enabling faster in-house, same-day testing at NYC Health + Hospital facilities and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Public Health Lab (PHL) for patients who are hospitalized.

GenMark sent the first device to NYC Health + Hospitals this weekend and will send reagents this week, and another device and reagents will go to the PHL. H+H expects to receive additional devices and reagents over the next few weeks to add to their existing testing capacity.

H+H and the Public Health lab also expect reagents and necessary equipment from Cepheid this week, and an additional 4 devices will be sent to H+H by the end of April.

Enforcement in Parks

The City has already banned team sports and revoked all permits for organized sports and large gatherings, and has increased the presence of NYPD and Parks Enforcement Patrol officers to enforce social distancing. The City is closely coordinating with the State to evaluate these efforts and will consider expanded restrictions as necessary.

Signage will be by NYC Parks at all fields and courts to indicate that all tournaments and sports practices have been canceled. In addition, Parks has closed all nature centers and recreation centers, and many concessions including ice rinks, amusement parks, carousels, indoor tennis facilities.

Playgrounds run by the Parks Department remain open to provide children with solitary, active recreation. It is critical to practice social distancing among people who do not live in the same household while playing on the playground. Playgrounds will be monitored by the NYPD and Parks Enforcement officers, and new signage will warn parents and guardians to maintain social distancing among children. Over the next week, the Parks Department will evaluate compliance and adopt more stringent rules if needed.

All Shape Up NYC fitness classes, Urban Park Ranger tours, and outdoor events including the annual Street Games festival have been canceled until further notice. For all updates on park service changes and closures go to

NYC Ferry

NYC Ferry will be operating on a modified weekday schedule starting Monday, March 23. Ferry services will run from 6:30 AM- 10 PM daily, with most routes operating with a frequency of at least 45 minutes:

  • East River – operates every 45 minutes.
  • South Brooklyn – operates every 45 minutes.
  • Rockaway – operates every 60 minutes
  • Soundview – operates every 50 minutes.
  • Astoria operates every 50 minutes.
  • Lower East Side operates every 45 minutes

Parking Permits for Healthcare Workers

To protect frontline workers who are at risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19, the City will issue citywide parking permits to healthcare personnel. The City can make up to 10,000 permits available to hospitals across the City by tomorrow, Monday March 23rd. Each hospital will receive a set number of permits based on the number of employees who require a permit, and the City will work with hospitals to provide more on an as-needed basis. Hospitals will be responsible for distributing them to their respective workforces and will fill in the make, model, and license plate number.

Personnel Changes

Carl Rodrigues, currently Chief of Staff to Deputy Mayor Vicki Been, will also run the City’s new production capacity effort. He will coordinate between City agencies and the private sector to quickly determine how to produce ventilators, surgical gowns, masks, and more in New York City.

Keeping Businesses Closed

Yesterday, the City inspected 13,000 businesses and religious institutions and has observed overwhelming compliance. Eleven violations in total were issued.

Stay Informed

Over 700,000 New Yorkers have signed up for the City’s COVID text notification system to get regular updates on the latest developments with coronavirus in New York City text COVID to 692-692. New Yorkers can text COVIDESP to 692-692 for updates in Spanish. You will receive regular SMS texts with the latest news and developments. If you have any questions on finding medical care call 311.

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