One week ago, the outbreak of COVID-19 in New York still seemed to be a problem mainly limited to affected patients in localized areas and government officials in those areas trying to slow the spread.

Just one week later, it has upended nearly every aspect of life: Health, home, work, school, entertainment and others. It has left St. Patrick’s Day parade routes bare and left grocery stores overwhelmed. It has transformed community gatherings and turned the physical American workforce into a virtual one.

The news and changes in the last week have come with incredible speed that made it hard to stay caught up. Here’s a review of what happened in the last seven days.


At the beginning of last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state had produced its own hand sanitizer to be made available to government agencies, schools, prisons and the MTA, the goal being to manufacture 100,000 gallons a week. The product is being made by inmates at the Great Meadow Correctional Facility in the Capital Region’s Washington County.

It was also revealed the New York Port Authority's executive director, Rick Cotton, has the virus and is among the thousands of people now in self-quarantine. 

The Erie County health commissioner hosted her first public meeting on coronavirus in Buffalo. The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra announced all its concerts would be postponed through April 15. And New York got the first approval to expand the state’s capacity for testing of the virus to private labs.


Governor Cuomo, on Tuesday afternoon, took one of the first unprecedented acts by the state government by implementing a containment zone within a mile of New Rochelle, in Westchester County, an epicenter of the outbreak. 

The containment area does not restrict movement in and out, but schools within the zone are shuttered. Those schools and other areas where people congregate, like houses of worship, are undergoing a thorough cleaning before reopening at a later point. The National Guard is also delivering food to homes and helping clean public spaces.

The government also looked at its own health status on Tuesday, with Cuomo asking for an assessment of the effect the global spread of COVID-19 would have on the state revenue. That comes as this year’s state budget deadline looms at the end of the month. Normally this time of year, budget negotiations are the main course of action in Albany. But many issues that were huge priorities even a week ago, like bail reform, have been moved to the backburner.


Days after private schools around the country, including Syracuse University, began closing for extended periods of time, the state on Wednesday announced all classes at schools inside the SUNY and CUNY systems would be moved online and spend the remainder of the spring semester conducting “distance learning.”

The move to a virtual program is set to begin on March 19. Students living on campus will be sent home, though Cuomo said students with hardships can ask to stay in their dormitories. 

"I think this transition is going to have a lasting impact on higher education," said Nina Kohn, director of online education at Syracuse University's College of Law. “But I hope in the long run it'll give us a chance to better reflect on how we do education, and what we might want to do going forward to make our teaching even better.”

SUNY will work on several problems that lie ahead, like room-and-board refunds and graduation ceremonies.


Seemingly endless announcements of event cancellations and continual alerts about large crowd gatherings meant March’s busy sports season was likely headed toward the end line.

It started on Wednesday with the NCAA’s decision that the men’s and women’s tournament games will be off-limits to the general public. Also on Wednesday, Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the NBA to suspend its season.

This all came to a head on Thursday. Barely two hours after Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford said they were pressing forward and “ready to tip,” he reversed course and canceled the remainder of its basketball tournament, ending the Syracuse University basketball season after they defeated North Carolina the night before.

The National Hockey League also suspended its regular season just as the Buffalo Sabres were expected to play Montreal Thursday night. 

The most shocking news was yet to come. The NCAA’s no-fan mandate turned into a no-game mandate when it announced later Thursday the entire tournament would be canceled, the first time that has ever happened in its 70-year history.

It was an incredible blow for Albany, which was planning for men’s basketball or hockey tournaments to be held at the Times Center and expected a business boon from the publicity.

Restaurants like Amigos Tacos and Empanadas had ordered extra food in preparation for these events, which now will no longer happen.

“We started last month. There weren’t that many events, but this was the starting point for us. We were really looking forward to it,” said Amigos Manager Victoria González.

Major League Baseball also canceled the rest of the spring training schedule and postponed opening day by at least two weeks, along with a disruption of other spring season events, bringing the sports world as we know it to a halt.


One thing that would make this crisis seem a lot more real for a lot of people is the unprecedented closure of secondary schools for a prolonged period of time. Unlike other states that had already enacted such drastic measures by Friday, Cuomo said he would leave that decision up to the schools themselves.

"The call to close schools is a very difficult decision and a complicated decision," Cuomo said Friday.

But he did make it easier for schools to close on their own by waiving the 180-day requirement for schools to be in session and receive state aid.

That announcement seemed to be all it took, and was quickly followed by a domino-like pattern of schools announcing they would shut down. It started with various Albany County schools and districts in Herkimer and Oneida counties in the Mohawk Valley.

Throughout the weekend, schools and counties across the state began following suit, closing until various dates — some until the end of the month and some until mid-April.


Saturday is usually a big shopping day for grocery stores. But there’s a good chance if you went on Saturday, there were a lot of items you couldn’t buy because the shelf they belong on was empty. That is, empty besides a sign saying the item is out of stock.

Earlier in the week, stores from big grocery chains to smaller outlets began placing purchase limits on certain items like toilet paper, water, and hand sanitizer. People were standing in the checkout line for up to 45 minutes.

The constant need to restock shelves, along with being the rare accepted place for crowds these days, prompted stores beginning Saturday to temporarily change their hours.

Wegmans, Tops, Price Chopper and others that have stores open 24 hours a day began over the weekend closing around midnight and reopening at 6 a.m. every day, using those six hours in between to properly clean the store and restock shelves to keep up with the high demand.


After New York’s first death due to COVID-19 was reported late Saturday, Sunday was filled with another dose of reality of the scope and speed of the virus.

Cuomo said Sunday afternoon that New York will not be able to handle the influx of patients who need hospitalization in the coming weeks without help from the Army Corps. Of Engineers.

Meanwhile, confirmed cases jumped, particularly in western New York, where cases increased in a matter of hours in Monroe and Erie counties.

In addition, more schools announced they were closing or that they were closing earlier than they previously said.

In another illustration of the speed that things are changing, Cuomo on Sunday said he would prefer to try “voluntary closures” first when it comes to the state’s businesses, bars and restaurants. Less than 24 hours later, on Monday morning, he announced they would close after 8 p.m. that day.

But more than that, all of this is an illustration of what could come this week.