New York Governor closes city playgrounds to combat virus

New York governor Andrew Cuomo speaks as the USNS Comfort pulls into a berth in Manhattan during the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the Manhattan borough of New York City

(Reuters) - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday he would close down the playgrounds in New York City in an effort to bolster social distancing and limit the number of coronavirus-related deaths, which are approaching 2,000 in the state.

The move expands on an announcement a day earlier by Mayor Bill de Blasio that he would close 10 of the city's playgrounds where there had been people crowding in close proximity, threatening to further spread the virus that has hit the nation's most populous city particularly hard.

"Young people must get this message, and they still have not gotten the message, you still see too many situations with too much density by young people," Cuomo said. "So we're going to take more dramatic action. We're going to close down the New York City playgrounds."

Cuomo added that open spaces in parks would remain available for people to "walk around, get some sun."

The governor said that the number of coronavirus cases in his state had increased to 83,712, up from 75,795 from a day earlier, with deaths rising to 1,941, up from 1,550, by far the most in the United States.

(reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut and Maria Caspani in New York; Editing by Bill Berkrot)