ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York state is shuttering some schools and houses of worship for two weeks in a suburb and sending the National Guard there to help respond to what appears to be the nation’s biggest cluster of cases of the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.
A new “containment area” covering part of New Rochelle, north of New York City, isn’t a lockdown. People who aren’t personally on quarantine will be able to leave their homes and enter and leave the area.
Still, “it is a dramatic action,” the Democratic governor said at a news conference. “It is the largest cluster of cases in the country.”
“The numbers are going up unabated, and we do need a special public health strategy for New Rochelle,” Cuomo said.
The suburb of about 80,000 residents is at the center of an outbreak of 108 cases in Westchester County, out of 173 statewide as of Tuesday. New York City has 36 cases, while its population is more than 100 times that of New Rochelle.
Some 14 patients statewide are hospitalized, while others are being cared for at home, Cuomo said.
The new coronavirus that has sickened thousands across the globe causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and can sometimes be fatal.
The vast majority of people recover. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
National Guard troops will help clean surfaces and deliver food to people who are on quarantine within the new “containment area,” which encompasses a 1-mile-radius (1.6 km) around a point near a synagogue connected to some existing cases, Cuomo and other officials said.
The area includes three schools, which will close for two weeks starting Wednesday, the school district said. State and local officials are working to determine “large congregate facilities or gathering places” that also will shut down, Cuomo said. The state and a private health system are setting up a testing facility in the area.
Businesses in general aren’t being shut down, officials said. Still, many details aren’t yet clear.
There’s a “great deal of uncertainty” about how it will work and whether it would affect, for example, a local country club that host events in New Rochelle, said Westchester County Assembly member Amy Paulin, a Democrat.
Peltz reported from New York.
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