Tips for New Yorkers during PAUSE

All of New York state and city have experienced radical changes since the “New York State on PAUSE” executive order was implemented. For those of us who live or work within or near New York City, the regulations required significant changes in our daily lives.  

After all, a typical day in New York City involves traveling throughout our city and being near dozens (if not hundreds) of fellow New Yorkers and visitors. This proximity, however, caused COVID-19 to spread rapidly here. 

It can be easy—and understandable—to mourn the losses that these changes bring. Many of us cannot see our family, friends, or co-workers. We must limit our use of public transportation and cannot visit our favorite shops and restaurants. We are restricted in our daily movement, making everyday tasks and chores are more difficult.

Remember that it is temporary. It is also a unique opportunity to protect other New Yorkers, especially those most vulnerable to COVID-19, and prevent our healthcare system from becoming dangerously overwhelmed.  

Goals for PAUSE  

The COVID-19 pandemic has been distressing on many levels. Now, the entire city and world seem to be dangerous with an invisible threat. Following the PAUSE regulations, however, keep us as safe as possible. Simple changes can help make PAUSEand protecting yourself and fellow New Yorkersmore physically and emotionally manageable.   

There are so many things that we cannot control during this uncertain time. We must try to focus on elements that are within our control, as well as take steps to maintain our physical and emotional health every day.  

If your work is considered an essential service, you may be traveling to go to work. The majority of New Yorkers, however, should not go into work. You may be working from home or pausing your work for the time being.  

Throughout the PAUSE period, it may be helpful to ask yourself a few questions to guide your actions and decisions:  

  • Will this help keep me from becoming infected? 
  • Will it help prevent infection in my community?  
  • Will this help prepare my home to stay here?  
  • Will it help maintain my emotional and physical wellbeing?  

These questions can help you make more informed decisions during PAUSE for you and your family.  


If you are not feeling well, or have any COVID-19 symptoms, do not leave your home to shop for groceries. Instead, order groceries to be delivered or ask for help from family, neighbors, friends, or others.  

If you are feeling well and not exhibiting any COVID-19 symptoms, it is safe to shop for groceries and other essentials. Be sure to practice social distancing guidelines and wash your hands thoroughly when you return home.   

Be mindful if your store has designated hours for seniors and healthcare workers. Also, try to stock up on two weeks’ worth of food for your household. Having this reserve will prevent you from going to the store more often than needed.  

You may wish to take extra precautions with your groceries by: 

  • Disinfecting any hard surfaces that someone else may have touched, such as the cereal’s cardboard box 
  • Taking food out of the packaging from the store and putting it into clean containers from your home 
  • Washing all produce immediately in warm water for at least 20 seconds 

Public Transportation  

The MTA is running on a limited schedule for necessary travel. When you do use public transportation, be sure to practice social distancing and wash your hands thoroughly afterward.  

Biking is safe and recommended during this time. Bike repair shops are open, and Citi Bike is available for use.  


Many New Yorkers are not able to do laundry at home, so laundromats are open and available throughout PAUSE. While at a laundromat, be sure to practice social distancing and wash your hands multiple times. Disinfect any hard surface before placing clean clothes on it.  

Wash your clothing with the warmest water possible. For some clothing and bedding, consider using a detergent with a bleach compound that will destroy the virus. You may also want to consider changing your clothes immediately after coming home from a public space, such as the grocery store, to help minimize spreading the virus in your home.  

Focus on Activities You Can Do Safely   

It’s easy to fixate on the many things New Yorkers cannot do under PAUSE. After all, gyms, salons, spas, museums, restaurants, and most shops are closed.  

Focus on the activities you are able to do. Exercise in your home, try cooking new recipes, read the books you’ve always wanted to, and try to do something creative and fulfilling. You may want to try a new craft or take an online course. Aim to do something every day that you would not have done under normal circumstances. Focusing on the many activities you can do safely in your home will help you to stay positive. 

Help with Food, Rent, or Safety  

If you need help buying food, be sure to contact FoodHelp NYC. Food pantries are open in all five boroughs. Many charities are open and ready to help New Yorkers during this challenging time.  

Governor Cuomo suspended evictions for 90 days. If you are facing eviction, reach out to the city for help. 

If you are not safe in your home during this time, do not stay there. Call 911 immediately for help.   

Be Kind and Help Others 

Now is the time for New Yorkers to protect each other—and help our city stay strong. Following the PAUSE guidelines is the best way to help others right now. When you are outside for necessary travel or exercise, be sure to extend courtesy and kindness to those around you. We need to be especially patient with each other now to maintain proper social distancing.  

If you are able, consider donating your time or money to organizations helping others now, such as New York City Harvest. Offer to buy and deliver food for your neighbors. Be sure to help your friends, family, and loved ones by calling often to check how they’re doing. Help those around you feel supported during this difficult time. Together, New Yorkers will stay strong.     

All of us at Weill Cornell Medicine understand that this is a difficult time for all New Yorkers. As experts in immunology, psychiatry, pulmonary medicine, and critical care medicine, we are working diligently to provide the best possible care to patients in need.  

We are available to all New Yorkers who have questions or concerns. Please call our hotline at (646) 697-4000 for information about COVID-19 or read our patient guide 

In This Article

Clinical Service