New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania today issued orders to close indoor shopping malls, indoor amusement parks and bowling alleys effective at 8 p.m. on March 19. Stock photo.

New York State is expanding its sweeping restrictions on businesses to stop the spread of coronavirus, closing down indoor portions of retail shopping malls, amusement parks and bowling alleys.

The new restrictions will go into effect tomorrow at 8 p.m.

The regional effort is one of several steps taken this week to curb the rapid spread of the virus, which public officials say threatens to overwhelm local hospital systems.

“We are doing everything we can as states to reduce density and contain the spread of the virus,” Cuomo said in a statement this afternoon. “It is critical that we remain on the same page as our neighboring states.”

This morning, New York State ordered private businesses reduce their on-site workforce by 50%. On Monday, New York and its neighboring states also closed all of its schools and most non-essential businesses, including gyms, movie theaters and casinos. Restaurants and bars are allowed to remain open only for takeout and delivery service, and public gatherings are limited to 50 people.

Essential businesses, like supermarkets, pharmacies and gasoline stations, are exempted from these rules.

The measures come as other similar restrictions have been announced across the rest of the United States throughout the week. Kansas yesterday became the first state to close all K-12 schools for the rest of the academic year, with California considering a similar measure. About seven million people in the San Francisco Bay Area were ordered on Tuesday to “shelter in place.”

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York State surged this morning to 2,382, more than 1,000 new cases than yesterday. Read full story.

There are now 152 confirmed cases in Suffolk County, according to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, but he said he expects that number to continue to rise sharply as more people are tested.

With the current rate of spread of the disease in New York and the current hospitalization rate for coronavirus patients, Cuomo says the state will need as many as 18,600 to 37,200 ICU beds for the number of people who will need hospital care at the peak of the outbreak.

The state currently has only 3,000 ICU beds, the governor said, with 600 available as of Saturday.

The state must do two things: stop or at least slow the spread of infection in order the “flatten the curve” — i.e. reduce the number of infections at the peak of the outbreak and increase hospital capacity.

The governor said the point of the “dramatic steps” taken so far is to slow down the spread of the virus by reducing the density of people in any given place.

President Trump today announced he is dispatching a 1,000-bed naval hospital ship, the U.S.N.S. Comfort, to New York Harbor in order to help with the expected spike in patients.

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Katie Blasl
Katie, winner of the 2016 James Murphy Cub Reporter of the Year award from the L.I. Press Club, is a reporter, editor and web developer for the LOCAL news websites. A Riverhead native, she is a 2014 graduate of Stony Brook University. Email Katie