NEW YORK — The sights and sounds of New York City are shutting down to cope with the coronavirus. Cultural institutions are closing, as are Broadway shows. Ridership on mass transit is down, and gatherings of more than 500 people have been banned.
A look at some of the impacts in New York state and New York City:
Pressure mounted to close schools in New York City and throughout the state.
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson urged the mayor Friday to shutter the district, the nation’s largest with more than 1.1 million pupils.
“Teaching and learning cannot take place under these circumstances,” he said.
So far, Mayor Bill de Blasio, like Johnson a Democrat, has resisted, saying closing schools would be disruptive to parents, including essential medical workers, and would deprive children from low-income families of school meals.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn said they would close elementary schools in their systems for at least a week, and the Success Academy charter school chain said it would suspend on-campus instruction.
NO LARGE GATHERINGS
As of 5 p.m. Friday, the state is temporarily banning gatherings of 500 people or more, and venues that can fit under 500 people can only be filled to half of their capacity. The ban does not apply to hospitals, schools, nursing homes and mass transit.
TESTING CENTER OPENS
New York state opened its first drive-through coronavirus testing center Friday in the hard-hit suburb of New Rochelle, north of New York City. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said allowing people to be tested from their cars is safer and faster than sending them to doctors’ waiting rooms.
The curtain went down on Broadway shows starting at 5 p.m. Thursday and though April 12. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall and the New York Public Library are also among the arts institutions that announced closings. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been postponed.
New York City had 95 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Friday morning. There are more than 400 cases statewide. The largest cluster is in New Rochelle, in suburban Westchester County. The virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough for most people, and the vast majority of people recover. But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and death.
STAYING OFF THE TRAINS AND ROADS
Ridership on public transportation has dropped significantly from a comparable day a year ago. State officials said there’s been a decline of 18.65% on subways, 31% on Long Island Rail Road and 48% on Metro-North Railroad. Traffic at Metropolitan Transportation Authority bridges and tunnels has declined by 6.7%.