This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Saturday, March 21st, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here. Our guide to preparing for the spread of coronavirus is here, and if you have lingering questions about the virus, here is our regularly updated coronavirus FAQ. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.

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New Jersey Begins Stay-at-Home, Starting at Saturday 9 p.m.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued a stay-at-home order, beginning at 9 p.m. on Saturday. "That economic impact would be overwhelming one way or the another," he said during a press conference. "I prefer to take it now, and I prefer to take it in concert with keeping deaths and sicknesses as low as possible."

Exceptions to the order include getting essential goods or services, seeking medical attention, visiting family or close friends, reporting to work, or engaging in outdoor activities. You can see more details of the order here.

New York's stay-at-home order, called New York State on PAUSE, begins on Sunday night.

Reporting by Danny Lewis

NY Governor Cuomo Tells New Yorkers To Thank Service Workers: "These People Are Really Stepping Up"

Continuing his reassuring command of explaining the state's coronavirus crisis, Governor Andrew Cuomo made a rousing salute to the "essential" service workers who will be working while all other New Yorkers are expected to stay at home as part of the PAUSE order. Citing those working in healthcare, pharmacies employees, grocery stores, transit, childcare, and other areas, Cuomo said, "This is public service on stereo and on steroids... These are people really stepping up—say thank you. These are people who are showing up, leaving their family, they are just as nervous as you are."

"Understanding what they do gives us perspective on how beautiful people can be, and how courageous people can be, and how great Americans can be," Cuomo reflected. He also urged New Yorkers to "practice humanity... If there was ever a time to practice humanity, the time is now," and added, "Don't let the little things get you annoyed."

"Yes, we have a problem. Yes, we will deal with it. Yes, we will overcome it. Let us find our better selves.... that's the New York destiny, and the New York legacy, and that's why I'm proud to be a Ne wYorker and Governor of this great state," he said.

On the logistics front, Cuomo drove home the points about increasing the number of hospital beds (the state total will be 75,000 by canceling elective surgeries); where the Army Corps of Engineers may build news beds (the list, at this point, includes the Javits Center, SUNY Westbury, SUNY Stonybrook, Westchester Convention Center; he will tour the sites today); and sourcing the supplies and equipment needed for medical professionals.

Cuomo revealed that the state was able to source 2 million N95 masks, with 1 million going to NYC and 500,000 to Long Island, and they are trying to purchase 6,000 ventilators. He also noted that some apparel makers have reached out to make masks, and his team is hoping to buy masks in bulk.

The governor has a number of requests out to the federal government including waiving New York's 25% cost of FEMA relief and four temporary field hospitals. He also wants tweaks to the $6 billion federal assistance, which, according to Cuomo, has some "technical" language that prevents New York from getting funding.

As for the latest numbers, Cuomo stressed that we're going to have more positives, because we've done a lot of tests: New York has run 45,437 tests, while California and Washington State each have done 23,000-plus so far. There are now 10,356 positive cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 3,254 since Friday. There are 6,211 cases in NYC; Westchester is at 1,385 (the rate appears to be slowing there) and Nassau is at 1,234.

For context, Washington has 1,402 cases and California has 1,261. New Jersey has 894.

The hospitalization rate, the governor said, is falling; it's now at 15%, with 1,603 people hospitalized.

Cuomo said that he expects 40-80% of New York's population to be infected, reiterating that an overwhelming number of people will be fine. "You get sick, you get symptoms, you recover," he said. But he has no patience for young people who are not practicing social distance measures. "You are no super man or super woman—and you can transfer it. You can wind up hurting someone who you love."

"There is noncompliance in NYC, especially among young people in parks," a slide read. The governor said he would being look at NYC parks in person and implored young people to take responsibility for public health, "We are all first responders... your actions can either save or endanger a life."

By the way, Cuomo has message for panic shoppers: Stores will be open! "There's no reason to buy 100 rolls of toilet paper. And where do you put 100 rolls of toilet paper?"

President Trump Declares New York State A "Major Disaster"

On Friday night, President Donald Trump officially declared a "major disaster" in New York State. This means that New York will be able to access the federal Disaster Relief Fund, which has over $42 billion.

According to the White House, Trump "ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic beginning on January 20, 2020, and continuing. The President's action makes Federal funding available for Crisis Counseling for affected individuals in all areas in the State of New York. Federal funding is also available to State, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, for all areas in the State of New York impacted by COVID-19."

Senator Chuck Schumer would like FEMA to get started immediately:

Schumer's office also said in a press release that he and Gillibrand additionally secured $6 billion in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, but had wanted the "Major Disaster Declaration" because of New York is currently "the nation’s coronavirus epicenter." He explained that "the MDD allows for FEMA to provide New York with Public and Individual Assistance under the Stafford Act at a 75% federal to 25% state cost share for eligible expenses and activities related to coronavirus efforts."

This comes after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo asked that New Yorkers to stay at home, starting Sunday night, in an order called "New York State On PAUSE." This is intended to limit the number of people interacting with each other and only allows those in essential services (like healthcare, transit, childcare, etc.) to go to work.

Social-distancing outside 67 Wine, a wine shop on the Upper West Side

As Of Friday Night, NYC Coronavirus Cases At 5,683, With 43 Fatalities

Mayor Bill de Blasio's office updated the number of COVID-19 cases, as of 8:30 p.m.: "Citywide, there 5,683 positive cases of COVID-19 and 43 fatalities. Currently there are 1,514 cases in Queens 1,402 in Manhattan, 1,740 in Brooklyn,736 in the Bronx, and 285 in Staten Island."

As of 8 p.m., NY State cases (based on all non-NYC cases at 3:25 p.m. plus the updated NYC numbers) total over 8,000. Governor Andrew Cuomo will be having another press briefing at 11 a.m.

MTA To Allow Rear-Door Boarding On Buses, Starting March 23

In a move to protect bus drivers, the MTA and two unions (TWU Local 100 and ATU Local 726) agreed to start having passengers board both local and Select Bus Service buses through the rear doors.

"Customers will board and exit all local and Select Bus Service (SBS) buses using the rear doors," the MTA said in a statement. "Express bus customers will board as normal, but will not be permitted to sit in the first three rows of the bus to ensure customers are a safe social distance from bus operators. ADA customers will still be permitted to board at the front of all local and SBS buses, and board as usual on express buses. Regular fare policy remains in effect wherever on-board payment boxes or SBS off-board ticket machines continue to be accessible."

The change will begin on Monday, March 23rd. MTA Chairman Pat Foye said, "While Governor Cuomo has ordered non-essential workers beginning Sunday night to remain in their homes and not take mass transit, we are taking aggressive action to protect our thousands of frontline employees who are delivering a critical service to New York, moving the healthcare workers, first responders, utility workers, and essential employees who are protecting us from this public health crisis. Transit workers are the lifeblood of this city and region and we are going to do everything we can to protect their health and safety."

"We thank our members for continuing to work in these trying times and appreciate the MTA for listening to bus operators and taking effective action," Daniel Cassella, President of ATU Local 726. "We also recognize maintenance workers for their rigorous daily disinfecting of the buses. Hopefully the public will listen to the governor and travel only when essential."

City Council Members Asks For More Protection Of Homeless

Worries over vulnerable New Yorkers prompted City Council Speaker Corey Johnson And Council Member Stephen Levin, who chairs the General Welfare Committee, to ask the mayor and Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks to ensure that street homeless and homeless in shelters, plus those who rely on public assistance, would be protected. This comes after a coronavirus case was confirmed at a shelter earlier this week.

Among the measures they are asking for are the installation of hand-washing stations, portable toilets and showers; more hospital and isolation beds; more messaging that public assistance requests do not need to be person; an expansion access to rental assistance; and more social distancing in shelters.

There are almost 70,000 New Yorkers in the shelter system, according to the letter.