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UPDATE: Masks to Be Mandated

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 17:21
An employee at the Montauk I.G.A. wore a mask as she checked a customer's temperature over the weekend. As of Wednesday, April 15, at 8 p.m., the governor has mandated that employers provide masks for all essential workers.
Doug Kuntz

Update, April 15: On Wednesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced an executive order requiring everyone to wear face coverings in public when social distancing is not possible. The mandate starts in three days.

"For example, if you are riding on public transit where it is impossible to maintain social distancing, or walking on a busy sidewalk, you must wear a face covering, like a bandana or a mask," the governor said on Twitter.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone echoed Mr. Cuomo's message later in the day. "That is certainly part of the new normal," he said. "We are, and will be for the foreseeable future, wearing masks."

Originally, April 14: By order of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, essential businesses must provide face coverings to their employees, and those employees must wear them while at work, starting Wednesday, April 15, at 8 p.m.

"Any employees who are present in the workplace shall be provided and shall wear face coverings when in direct contact with customers or members of the public," the executive order states.

It also says businesses are to provide the coverings at their own expense.

"Today we started delivery of masks to grocery workers and stores as a gap-filler for them as they look to bring in additional supplies," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said Tuesday afternoon. "All workers have to have the masks they need to protect themselves and their customers."

Southampton Village Mayor Jesse Warren took to Twitter to announce the village would be delivering masks where they are needed. "We are dispatching volunteers to give out free masks to anyone in need, may it be within or outside Southampton Village," he said. Those who want masks can contact the village to obtain them, or message him on Twitter at @MayorJesse.

Suffolk County reported that the case count had reached 328 in Southampton Town and 104 in East Hampton Town. However, Dr. Gregson Pigott, the commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, said there is no set system for counting those who have more than one residence. Those who list a primary residence outside of the county may not be counted toward Suffolk's totals even if they living here when they test positive.

That suggests the number of East End residents impacted by the illness may be under-reported.

"I haven't run into the situation of people having multiple addresses," Dr. Pigott said Tuesday during Mr. Bellone's press briefing. "It's the address you use when you register as a patient" that is counted among the county numbers, he said.

The rate of Covid-19 tests turning up positive results has been consistent the last several days between about 42 and 44 percent, and was at 42.9 percent on Tuesday. About 52,400 tests had been administered, and 22,954 were positive, as of 3 p.m. 

New York State also released data this weekend showing many Covid-19 deaths have occurred at nursing homes and other assisted living facilities. As of Sunday, that number was at 236, or about 45 percent of the fatalities reported by Suffolk County through that date.

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