New Yorkers should be prepared for the possibility of a "shelter in place" order to fight the spread of the new coronavirus that would largely confine people to their homes, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday.
The decision whether to issue the order is likely to be made in the next 48 hours, the mayor said. There were 814 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, as of Tuesday afternoon in the city, the mayor said.
"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," de Blasio told reporters.
New York, New Jersey and Connecticut Announce State-Wide Restrictions
With a population of roughly 8.5 million people, New York is the largest US city.
The city also signed with BioReference Laboratories on Monday night to work to expand testing capacity for the coronavirus to 5,000 tests a day, the mayor said.
De Blasio also banned ride-sharing and ride-pooling in for-hire vehicles, including Uber and Lyft, although couples and families will still be allowed to ride together. He also suspended alternate-side vehicle parking for at least a week.
The city's police department has been instructed that if officers arrest someone who is showing flu-like symptoms they should not take the person to a precinct. The city is also considering releasing some low-risk inmates from city jails, de Blasio said.
He called on both current and retired health workers to add their names to a reserve list of people who can be called upon if the crisis worsens.