New York will extend its stay-at-home order through May 15, a move that will keep nonessential businesses and schools closed at least until then, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.

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New York will extend its stay-at-home order through May 15, a move that will keep nonessential businesses and schools closed at least until then, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.

New York's PAUSE order, first issued March 22 and extended last week, was scheduled to expire April 29 as the state continues to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

But Cuomo announced Thursday he would extend the order for a second time, arguing it is necessary to protect against a second surge of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Cuomo's announcement came as the state's death toll surpassed 12,000 after 606 who tested positive for the disease died Wednesday.

But the state's hospitalization rate continued to show signs that the curve was flattening: There were about 17,000 people hospitalized for COVID-19 on Wednesday. That was down from about 18,000 each of the several days prior.

On Thursday, Cuomo said he was unsure how long the state's stay-at-home order will remain in effect. Any decision to lift it will be based on data, he said.

“No political decisions," Cuomo said. "No emotional decisions. Data and science. We’re talking about human lives here.”

Under the PAUSE order, all nonessential businesses are required to close all in-person operations. Those employers cannot require their workers to report to work in person, though they can work remotely.

The order also prohibits all gatherings — parties, events and the like — from taking place, while New York residents are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible unless they are making an essential trip or exercising at a safe social distance.

Schools will also remain closed while the PAUSE order is in effect.

Canandaigua School Superintendent Jamie Farr, speaking at a Thursday afternoon community forum, addressed the extension of the governor's order.

“Certainly, we’d like to get back to normal … as soon as it’s safe,” Farr said, noting that parents, students and staff may be concerned about returning.

"We will have to manage that based on what the government says we can and cannot do," Farr said.

Farr and other Canandaigua administrators are entertaining different ideas of honoring seniors, if students are not allowed to return this school year.

“We’ll be able to do a variety of things, when and if the time comes,” Farr said.

Should students return to school May 15, that would mean several weeks of traditional schooling. If they return later, even for a short time, it’s better than not at all.

“If we can only do a day or two, I’ll take it,” Farr said.

Cuomo issued a separate order Wednesday requiring those in New York to wear a mask or face covering in public when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance.

On Thursday, Cuomo said he would expand that order to require anyone riding public transit or riding in a for-hire vehicle such as a taxi to cover their face. Public transit operators and taxi drivers will also be required to wear a mask, he said.

"If you get on the bus, you need to wear a mask," Cuomo said. "If you get on a train, you need to wear a mask."

Daily Messenger assistant editor Mike Murphy contributed to this report.