New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to deploy the National Guard and create a 1-mile containment area in New Rochelle in an attempt to stop a growing cluster of coronavirus cases.
New Rochelle, a suburb of New York City located in Westchester County, has had 108 cases of coronavirus, Cuomo said, making it probably the largest cluster of coronavirus cases in the United States. New Rochelle makes up a majority of the state’s 173 coronavirus cases and has double the number of cases as New York City.
“New Rochelle is a particular problem,” Cuomo said. “It is what they call a cluster. The numbers have been going up, the numbers have continued to go up, the numbers are going up unabated, and we do need a special public health strategy for New Rochelle.”
The containment zone surrounds a synagogue believed to be the epicenter of the outbreak. A man who lives in New Rochelle, works in Manhattan and attends the synagogue tested positive for the virus last week. The man’s 20-year-old son attends Yeshiva University in Manhattan, and his 14-year-old daughter attends SAR Academy and High School in the Bronx.
Cuomo and Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said that the containment area will be a concentric circle with a 1-mile radius because contagious viruses generally spread geographically.
“What we are going to do is focus on an area – a concentric circle – around the situs of the majority of the cases in New Rochelle,” Cuomo said. “Much of the transmission tends to happen on a geographic basis.”
Cuomo said large facilities and schools within that area would be closed for two weeks starting March 12. Smaller stores and businesses can remain open within the area, however.
He noted that this was a dramatic action but said this was a matter of life and death.
“We’ll go in, we’ll clean the schools and assess the situation,” he said. “This will be a period of disruption for the community.”
The National Guard will be used in the containment area to deliver food to homes and to help clean public spaces, Cuomo said. New York is also putting a satellite testing facility, partnering with Northwell Health, into New Rochelle.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer told CNN that the National Guard’s work will help those under quarantine.
“As the national guard is deployed, the purpose is to deal with people who are going to be inside their homes under quarantine, make sure they do get food, medicine, things that will keep them from having to go outside the house under emergency circumstances and they’re also going to help, I think very effectively, in cleaning up all of the different public spaces that are there,” he said.
Of the 173 cases in New York state, 14 people are in the hospital and there have been no deaths.