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Gov. Cuomo chides New Yorkers for ignoring social distancing

New York’s governor said Sunday that he was exasperated people are still ignoring his social distancing orders, saying he’s still seeing people clustering in groups and acting like it was just another nice spring weekend.

“There is a density level in New York City that is wholly inappropriate,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, his voice rising. “This is just a mistake! It is a mistake! It is insensitive. It is arrogant. It is self-destructive. It’s disrespectful to other people and it has to stop and it has to stop now. This is not a joke and I am not kidding.”

The Democrat said city officials must come up with a plan immediately to prevent people from congregating in parks or elsewhere.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio stopped short of closing playgrounds or parks Sunday but said police will start clearing out places that get too crowded. He advised people not to mix with other families and keep exercise brief and solitary.

“We will be enforcing this, but with understanding,” de Blasio said. “We will enforce through education. We will enforce with warnings.”

If people don’t act responsibly about using playgrounds, “we’ll have to at that point strongly consider shutting them down,” de Blasio said.

New York’s new rule banning people from congregating in groups doesn’t take effect until 8 p.m. Sunday, but some people were widely flouting the law in spirit Saturday in Brooklyn’s 320-acre Prospect Park. Packs of teenagers clustered around benches. Groups of people sprawled out on picnic blankets. A dozen men laughed and smoked in a circle.

Meanwhile, two blocks from the park, a woman wearing a mask staggered into a neighborhood hospital, coughing, wheezing and clutching her chest.

Nearly 2,000 people have been hospitalized in the state with the virus and 114 have died, Cuomo said. More than 15,000 have tested positive statewide, including 9,000 in New York City.

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