Protecting the Public Health of All New Yorkers

Long-Term Care Facilities

In an effort to protect some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers, Governor Cuomo announced only medically necessary visits will be allowed at nursing homes. This policy will be effective Friday, March 13 at 5:00 PM.

The state is also asking nursing homes to set up skyping and other online communication capacity so families can tele-visit their loved ones.

Additionally, the state will require health screenings for all nursing home workers each day when they enter a facility and require them to wear surgical masks to guard against any potential asymptomatic spread.


    Nursing Home Letter Regarding Employees

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance to address employees of healthcare facilities, including nursing homes, suspected of or confirmed to be positive for the COVID-19 virus (Criteria for Return to Work for Healthcare Personnel with Confirmed or Suspected COVID-19 (Interim Guidance)). 



Pre-K - 12 Schools

Governor has tasked SUNY Empire State College President Jim Malatras with working with counties to develop contingency plans in preparation for school closings, including how to provide meals for children who rely on school-provided breakfast and lunch and ensuring families have adequate access to childcare.

Downstate Schools

Beginning Monday, March 16, 2020, schools in Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk will close for two weeks. New York City schools will close early this week.

New York City is developing a plan to ensure children who rely on school breakfast and lunch programs will continue to receive that support, and parents - especially critical healthcare workers and first responders - will be provided access to child care as needed. New York City schools will close early this week.

All Schools

For all schools in communities with the highest rates of positive cases, the state is taking proactive steps to implement protocols that limit mass contact.

Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order that eliminates the aid penalty for schools directed to close by state or local officials or those closed under a state or local declaration of emergency that do not meet 180-day requirements if they are unable to make up school days.

Guidance, Letters and Update Presentations for Schools


In-Person Classes Canceled

SUNY Albany will cancel in-person classes for the rest of the semester after a positive case was confirmed on March 12, 2020.

Distance Learning

State University of New York and the City University of New York will implement plans to maximize distance learning and reduce in-person classes, beginning March 19, 2020, for the remainder of the Spring semester in light of the evolving novel coronavirus situation in New York. 

All campuses will develop plans catered to the campus and curriculum-specific needs while reducing density in the campus environment to help slow possibility for exposures to novel coronavirus. Distance learning and other options will be developed by campuses.  

Guidance for Fall Semester

The State will issue guidance to colleges and universities to allow some in person instruction and on-campus housing and for the fall semester. Campuses must develop a plan, which attests to meeting the guidance and file plans with the State.


Child Care Providers

The Office of Children and Family Services is working closely with the New York State Department of Health to provide child care providers with the most up-to-date information regarding the novel coronavirus. 

View the full list of letters to child care providers. 

Pregnancy Guidelines

Pregnancy is an exciting and sometimes stressful experience. Being pregnant during a disease outbreak may add extra anxiety and concern for you and those you care about who are pregnant. Health care providers and people who research infections are still learning about the virus that causes COVID-19, including how easily it spreads and affects different at-risk populations. 

Currently, the virus is thought to be spread from an infected person to others by respiratory droplets when a person coughs or sneezes and is in close contact with another person. According to the CDC, we do not yet know if pregnant people are more susceptible to COVID-19 than the general public. Due to changes that occur during pregnancy, pregnant people may be more susceptible to viral respiratory infections. The most important thing you can do is to protect yourself from getting sick.

This includes following the same guidance that is provided to everyone, including people who are not pregnant: 


 All people should use prevention strategies to reduce their chances of getting any virus (like influenza or “flu” or “the common cold”). 

  • Stay home if you are sick. Call your health care provider for advice that can be provided over the phone or using telehealth, before seeking care in the office. 
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and then discard it in a closed container, or if a tissue is not available, use the inside of your elbow. 
  • Keep your hands clean by washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Avoid close contact with others, especially those who are sick. 
  • Get the flu shot (at this time, there is no current vaccination for coronaviruses). 
  • Call your health care provider with any questions about how you feel. 

COVID-19 Maternity Task Force

Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa and the New York State Council on Women and Girls announced the creation of a COVID-19 maternity task force to examine the best approach to authorizing and certifying additional dedicated birthing centers in an effort to provide mothers a safe alternative to already stressed hospitals amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The task force will make recommendations to Governor Cuomo by the end of the week.  

Additionally, the task force will work with Regional Perinatal Centers to review literature and make recommendations on the impact of COVID-19 on pregnancy. 

Pregnancy Frequently Asked Questions


Requiring Face Coverings for Public and Private Employees 

Governor Cuomo signed an Executive Order on April 12, 2020 that directs essential businesses to provide, at their expense, face coverings for their employees when in direct contact with customers or members of the public. 

Paid Sick Leave
On March 18, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed emergency legislation guaranteeing job protection and pay for New Yorkers who have been quarantined as a result of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

This groundbreaking new measure will help ensure that New Yorkers are able to care for their family without jeopardizing their economic security and builds on the Governor’s unprecedented actions to protect and uplift workers and their families.

Learn More About COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave

Unemployment Insurance Waiting Period Waived

Governor Cuomo signed an Executive Order on March 14, 2020 that waives the 7-day waiting period for workers in shared work programs to claim unemployment insurance for those that have been put out of work by COVID-19.


Governor Cuomo has signed an executive order that New York State is on PAUSE, mandating businesses that rely on in-office personnel to decrease their in-office workforce by 100%. This follows the Governor's directive that all businesses implement work-from-home policies.

Exemptions will be made for essential service industries, including:

  • Shipping
  • Media
  • Warehousing
  • Grocery
  • Food production
  • Pharmacies
  • Healthcare providers
  • Utilities
  • Banks and related financial institutions
  • Other industries critical to the supply chain

Read the guidance on essential businesses.

Empire State Development Resources for Businesses

View up-to-date guidance for the agency’s partners and other stakeholders impacted by the virus.  

Protocols for Essential Personnel to Return to Work Following COVID-19 Exposure or Infection 

Public and private sector organizations that provide essential services or functions where personnel are needed to perform critical functions, including infrastructure, public safety, and other essential operations, may allow personnel who were exposed to or are recovering from COVID-19 to work in the workplace setting, if needed to maintain essential operations.

Read the protocols

Requiring Face Coverings for Public and Private Employees 

Governor Cuomo signed an Executive Order on April 12, 2020 that directs essential businesses to provide, at their expense, face coverings for their employees when in direct contact with customers or members of the public. 


Governor Cuomo signed an executive order temporarily modifying election procedures to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The executive order: 

  • Suspends the candidate petitioning process — effective 5PM on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 — for the June primaries for Congressional, State Senate, State Assembly and Judicial races. 
  • Modifies the signature requirements for ballot access; candidates will only need to collect 30 percent of the statutory threshold. For Congress, candidates would need 375 signatures rather than 1,250. For State Senate, candidates would need 300 signatures rather than 1,000. For Assembly, candidates would only need 150 signatures rather than 500.
  • Modifies deadlines and procedures to better allow New Yorkers to vote absentee for the Queens Borough President special election on March 24. It extends the current deadline to register to vote absentee to March 23, the day before the special election. Absentee votes must be postmarked or delivered in person up until the day of the election on March 24.  

Safety Measures to Prevent Against Transmission at Polling Stations

Pools and Spray Grounds

In accordance with a data-driven, phased strategy to safeguard the health and well-being of New Yorkers, NYSDOH provides this interim guidance for the public and private owners and operators of pools and recreational aquatic spray grounds, including but not limited to cities, villages, towns, campgrounds, children’s camps, day cares, hotels, assisted living facilities, schools, colleges, universities, mobile home parks, homeowners’ associations, and apartment complexes.

This guidance does not apply to private homeowner’s pools. 

All indoor and outdoor swimming pools and recreational aquatic spray grounds that are permitted to operate for members of the public during the COVID-19 public health emergency must following NYSDOH guidance: 

Cooling Centers

To help prevent spread of COVID-19 in cooling centers, procedures and supplies should be in place to encourage proper hand and respiratory hygiene, social distancing, as well as routine cleaning and disinfection of high-risk locations. 

The following guidance is provided for any local or state public or private facility that operates as a cooling center, so that operators can incorporate these procedures into their facility protocols:

Temporary Residences