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New York governor bans public events with more than 500 people to fight coronavirus

Members of the National Guard hand out bags of food to residents near a one-mile radius "containment area" set up to halt the coronavirus (COVID-19) on March 12, 2020 in New Rochelle, New York. New Rochelle, a city just north of New York City, has become the state's largest source of coronavirus infections, prompting Gov. Andrew Cuomo to implement a containment area as the nation sees a daily increase in the number of virus cases. On Thursday Gov. Cuomo banned events across New YOrk of more than 500 people. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/TNS)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday banned events across New York of more than 500 people in the latest strike against the coronavirus that continues to spread across the state and country.

On a day when the National Guard hit the ground in New Rochelle, Westchester County, Cuomo said officials and the public need to get more aggressive in taking on the virus.

“We’re going to take very dramatic actions,” Cuomo said.

Venues with capacity for fewer than 500 people — including bars and restaurants — can only be filled to 50% capacity under the ban, Cuomo said. The gathering ban, which goes into effect 5 p.m. Friday, effectively closes all Broadway shows and houses of worship.

Exempted are hospitals, nursing homes and mass transit, he said.

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The governor said he had been in contact with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Vice President Pence, and said they, along with other public officials, signed off on the new restrictions.

Cuomo also called for increased testing and said authorities are working on plans to expand capacity at hospitals across the state. The governor also asked retired doctors and nurses to get ready to pitch in if necessary.

“This has to be a system that is in balance and can handle the entirety of a public health emergency.”

He also said the state could cancel elective surgeries in hospitals to open up additional beds for coronavirus response

“It is something we are considering in our back pocket,” Cuomo said.

The governor said there are 328 confirmed cases across the state, and 112 in the last 24 hours. There are 95 cases in New York City, 148 in Westchester County and no reported deaths in the state.

“I know the hysteria is high. I know the political environment super heats everything,” Cuomo said. “But we are fully able to handle this situation.”

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© 2020 New York Daily News

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.