Timeline: The first 100 days of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's COVID-19 response

From the state's first case on March 1 to New York City's initial reopening.

June 17, 2020, 8:58 AM

Earlier this year, New York became the U.S. epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, which killed tens of thousands of state residents and left hundreds of thousands more infected with COVID-19. But hope is beginning to return to the Empire State.

"We went from the worst infection rate [in the nation] to the best infection rate," New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo told ABC News' Amy Robach in an interview on Tuesday in Albany, New York, about the first 100 days of New York's response to COVID-19 -- which began with the state's first confirmed case on March 1 and ended on a small note of triumph on June 8, with the partial reopening of New York City.

Below is a timeline of the New York state governor's first 100 days responding to the coronavirus crisis:


March began with New York state's first coronavirus case and soon hit New York City harder than any metropolis in America -- killing 1,000 city residents before the month was out.

March 1: A New York woman, 39, returning from travel in Iran becomes the state's first coronavirus case.

"It's deep breath time," Cuomo said.

March 2: Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio make a rare appearance together at a press briefing -- promising to contact trace New York's first COVID-19 patient. Both men project confidence in New York's ability to beat back the virus.

"Everybody is doing exactly what we need to do," Cuomo boasted. "We have been ahead of this since Day 1."

March 5: Cuomo announces statewide cases doubled overnight from 11 to 22.

March 6: Cases double overnight again, to 45.

March 8: "There is more fear, more anxiety, than the facts would justify," Cuomo said at a briefing. "This is not the Ebola virus, this is not the SARS virus, this is a virus that we have a lot of information on." New York cases: 105.

March 9: The family of a New Rochelle attorney who infected dozens speaks to "Good Morning America."

March 10: New York orders nation's first coronavirus containment zone in Westchester County's New Rochelle.

March 14: Cuomo announces state's first two coronavirus deaths.

March 16: Governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, all Democrats, formulate the same rules for closures, saying they were forced to act because of a lack of coordination from the federal government.

"We need the federal government to do a better job," Cuomo said. "States don't have the capacity or the power to make up for the federal government. We're doing the best we can, but we need the federal government to step up." New York cases hit 950.

March 18: Cuomo signs executive order that mandates all but essential business to reduce their workforce density by 50% and have more employees work from home. New York cases hit 3,437.

Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks to Amy Robach on "Good Morning America."
ABC News

March 19: Cases: 4,152.

Cuomo scales the workforce density mandate to no more than 25% of a firm's workforce in the office. Record overnight testing sends statewide figure spiking to 5,638.

March 20: Cuomo orders all nonessential businesses closed statewide.

"This is the most drastic action we can take," Cuomo said. He termed the policy New York State on PAUSE, for Policies that Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone.

The order -- which took effect the evening of March 22 -- also suspended all elective surgeries, but deemed liquor stores essential services in New York state. Statewide cases surpass 8,300.

March 23: New York City surpasses 12,000 cases -- 35% of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

Cuomo announces that the state has 53,000 hospital beds and needs 140,000, and orders hospitals to double capacity. "This is going to get much worse before it gets better," Cuomo said. "You are going to see the number of infections ... the number of cases increase dramatically."

March 25: New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker quietly issues a new state policy -- aimed at preventing discrimination against patients who test positive -- that requires nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients discharged from overwhelmed hospitals.

For more than a month, thousands of infected, elderly New Yorkers are discharged from hospitals and into nursing homes, which are quickly overcome with outbreaks and mounting death tolls.

March 29: Cases: 59,513 / Deaths: 965.

Nearly 5,000 members of the NYPD are out sick. Nearly 900 have tested positive.

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear," Cuomo tweets, quoting FDR.

March 31: New York City surpasses 1,000 COVID-19 deaths.

In the final round of budget negotiations, Cuomo inserts a provision on page 347 that shields nursing homes, hospitals and other health care facilities from lawsuits claiming they failed to protect patients and residents from the coronavirus, retroactive to March 7, according to The New York Times. New York cases: 75,795 / Deaths: 1,941.


In one month, New York state went from a single case on March 1 to more than 83,000 statewide and more than 2,300 dead on April 1. By April's end, the virus would claim another 16,000 lives statewide.

April 1: The Regional Emergency Medical Services Council of NYC issues chilling orders, obtained by ABC News, to public and private EMS services in New York City and Long Island that have been stretched to the brink -- representing tacit acknowledgment that certain near-death patients will likely not be able to be saved while city hospitals are overrun with coronavirus infections. Samaritan's Purse opens a field hospital in Central Park.

Meanwhile, 17% of NYPD's uniformed force are out sick.

April 2: New York cases hit 92,381, surpassing China / Deaths surpass 2,500.

April 3: In New York City, 24% of EMS, 17% of FDNY and 18.5% of uniformed NYPD out sick. New York cases: 102,863 / Deaths: 3,565.

April 6: Fears of city parks becoming temporary burial grounds are sparked by a thread of 13 tweets posted by NYC City Councilman Mark Levine, one of which included the specter of 'trenches will be dug for 10 caskets in a line." De Blasio is forced to acknowledge the potential for temporary burials, and the helicopter for ABC New York Station WABC captures video of trenches dug on Hart's Field off the Bronx for mass burials.

About 19.5% uniformed members of the NYPD – more than 7,0000 -- out sick, reaching its pandemic peak. Fourteen NYPD deaths. New York cases: 130,689 / Deaths: 4,758.

Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks to Amy Robach on "Good Morning America."
ABC News

April 10: 19.6% of NYPD out sick, down two tenths of a percent from peak.

April 13: At a White House press briefing, President Donald Trump claims falsely that he has "total authority" over when states can end their lockdowns.

"When you're president of the United States, the authority is total, and that's the way it's got to be," Trump claims. "The governors know that."

Trump goes on to introduce a much-derided campaign-style video from the podium of the White House press briefing room.

Within hours, Cuomo is on CNN, telling Erin Burnett, "you don't become king because there's a federal emergency." New York cases: 195,655 / Deaths: 10,834.

April 14: The governor appears on four cable morning shows, reiterating his message that "[The president] basically declared himself King Trump" on MSNBC's Morning Joe, drawing swift return fire from Trump.

"Cuomo's been calling daily, even hourly, begging for everything, most of which should have been the state's responsibility, such as new hospitals, bed, ventilators, etc," the president tweeted shortly after 10 a.m. "I got it all done for him, and everyone else, and now he seems to want Independence! That won't happen!"

Just before 11 a.m., Trump characterized himself as the captain of a mutinous ship.

"Tell the Democrat Governors that 'Mutiny On The Bounty' was one of my all time favorite movies," he tweeted. "A good old fashioned mutiny every now and then is an exciting and invigorating thing to watch, especially when the mutineers need so much from the Captain. Too easy!"

The president appeared to have mixed up the message of the 1935 Hollywood blockbuster -- based on an actual 1789 mutiny on the HMS Bounty -- in which the crew takes control of the ship and casts the sadistic tyrant Captain William Bligh adrift on the ocean in a tiny boat.

The New York City Health Department begins counting probable and not just confirmed COVID-19 deaths. The new policy drives up the nationwide death count by 17%. (The state Department of Health will not begin counting probable deaths for nearly another month.) New York cases: 202,208 / Deaths: 11,586.

Between April 8-14, new hospitalizations in New York state peak in the 18,000 per day range -- and began decreasing to below 10,000 new patients admitted per day on May 2.

April 22: New York City opts to freeze bodies of coronavirus victims rather than burying them on Hart Island, the city's potter's field, a measure meant to lessen the burden on hospitals and funeral homes, which are running short of space to preserve the dead, according to the NYC Medical Examiner's Office. New York cases: 257, 216 / Deaths: 15,740.

April 27: Sienna poll gives Cuomo highest favorability rating ever, noting that state voters trusts Cuomo over Trump on the New York reopening by a margin of 78-16. New York cases: 291,996 / Deaths: 17,623.

April 30: Cuomo announces NYC subway closures from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. during the coronavirus pandemic in order to disinfect trains and stations. New York cases: 304,372 / Deaths: 18,548.


May brought with it more than 5,000 additional deaths and tens of thousands of new cases, nearing a total of 375,000 by the end of the month.

May 1: New York cases: 308,314 / Deaths: 18,847.

May 5: New York state begins posting both confirmed and presumed deaths at nursing homes and assisted care facilities statewide.

May 8: The 5-year-old NYC boy who may have died from the rare inflammatory syndrome passed away the night before at Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital, which has been treating several children with a similar condition.

May 10: In the wake of thousands of additional deaths in nursing homes added to the state death count, the state Department of Health rescinds a March 25 order requiring nursing homes to accept elderly COVID-19 patients discharged from hospitals. Still, Cuomo said the change doesn't reflect a flaw in the policy, but that homes shouldn't have accepted patients they couldn't effectively quarantine from the rest of the facility, according to the Wall Street Journal.

May 19: The MTA begins testing ultraviolet technology that is proved to kill COVID-19 on surfaces.

May 20: Daily new hospitalizations drop below 5,000 daily for the first time. New York cases: 354,370 / Deaths: 22,230.

A Columbia University study concludes that if New York had shut down and mandated social distancing even a week earlier, more than 17,000 lives could have been saved statewide.

May 21: New York State is investigating 157 cases of the severe inflammatory syndrome in children linked to the coronavirus -- up 53% over the past nine days. "The more we look, the more we find it." Cuomo said.

May 25: Minnesotan George Floyd is killed during an arrest in Minneapolis -- a flashpoint moment in U.S. policing whose rippling impact stretched from coast to coast, reaching New York in three days.

May 28: NYPD makes 30 arrests at a protest against George Floyd's killing. New York cases: 366,733 / Deaths: 22,916.

May 29: 72 more arrests made on second night of city protests.

May 31: In three days, nearly 800 people have been arrested. New York cases: 370,770 cases / Deaths: 23,093.


For the first time since the start of the pandemic, New Yorkers have something besides solitude and social distancing on their minds. New York rallies, protests and other social gatherings to decry Floyd's death in police custody started on May 28 and continue to unfold in New York City, as of this writing.

June 1: The NYPD arrests more than 250 at overnight protests which turned riotous in the early morning hours.

June 2: Peaceful protests devolve into jarring moments of vandalism, looting, fire and confrontation in New York. The NYPD makes more than 500 arrests overnight. amid widespread vandalism in Midtown Manhattan and in the Bronx. Luxury brands and big box retail stores in Rockefeller Center and the Upper East Side had windows smashed.

June 3: The NYPD announces total protest arrests to date have reached about 2,000 -- including 500 burglary arrests.

June 5: The two Buffalo police officers seen on video shoving to the ground a 75-year-old man and leaving him bleeding on the pavement are suspended; Erie County District Attorney's office announces investigation and assault charges against the officers are filed the following day. New York cases: 376,208 / Deaths: 23,329.

June 8: On the 100th day since New York's first confirmed case, Cuomo announces the first phase of the reopening of New York City.

"We went from the worst situation in the nation or frankly the world -- we bent the curve and we brought the spread down dramatically."

Asked later by ABC News to describe those first 100 days in one word, Cuomo replied, "hell."

"Can I say that?" he wonders, with a grin.

"Yeah," "GMA" anchor Amy Robach replies, with a smile of her own. "I think that's fair."

Victoria Thompson, Santina Leuci, Aaron Katersky, Josh Margolin, Alexandra Smith, Ella Torres and the ABC News Investigative Unit contributed to this report.

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