Prepare to shelter in place: NYC mayor

New York has already taken drastic measures to fight the spread of the coronavirus, including closing schools, theaters, bars and restaurants. But New Yorkers could soon face more severe restrictions.

That’s according to New York City Mayor, Bill De Blasio:

(SOUNDBITE)(English) NYC MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, SAYING:

“Even though a decision has not yet been made by the city or the state, New Yorkers should be prepared right now for the possibility of a 'shelter in place' order.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, there were over 800 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in New York City, as officials raced to limit the spread.

Following De Blasio’s shelter-in-place warning, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s secretary tweeted some cold water on De Blasio’s statement: "Blanket quarantine/shelter in place policies require State action & there is no consideration of that at this time.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Cuomo sought to quash similar rumors:

(SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW YORK GOVERNOR, ANDREW CUOMO, SAYING:

“No city in the state can quarantine itself without state approval. And I have no interest whatsoever and no plan whatsoever to quarantine any city."

On the other side of the country, officials in six San Francisco Bay Area counties did order residents to stay home Tuesday, for all but the most crucial outings until April 7.

The order applies to some 6.7 million people.

As New York State troopers were fitted with respirator masks in the state’s infection hotspot in New Rochelle, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced on Tuesday that the military will contribute millions of those masks across the country:

(SOUNDBITE)(English) DEFENSE SECRETARY, MARK ESPER, SAYING:

"The Department of Defense will offer up to five million N95 respirator masks and other personal protective equipment from our own strategic reserves to the Department of Health and Human Services for distribution. The first one million masks will be made available immediately."

Esper also said he is considering activating the National Guard to assist states in their coronavirus fight.