ALBANY — Schools, temples, churches and other large gathering places within much of New Rochelle will be ordered to close for two weeks as New York tries to stop the spread of one of the country’s worst coronavirus clusters.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced plans to enforce a “containment area” for a one-mile radius around the center of the cluster, an area that includes much of the city of New Rochelle and stretches into town of Eastchester, both of which are in Westchester County.
Any large gathering places within that containment area will be required to shut down from Thursday through March 25, Cuomo said.
That includes several of New Rochelle’s public schools; Those that fall within the containment zone will remain shut down for two weeks.
Cuomo’s office pledged to provide more detail about which schools and gathering places fall within the containment zone later Tuesday.
The National Guard will be called in to help clean facilities and deliver food, Cuomo said.
The state’s latest approach was recommended by Howard Zucker, the state’s health commissioner.
It comes as Westchester County — and specifically New Rochelle — continues to be the center of the state’s coronavirus outbreak.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the state had 174 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Of those, 108 are in Westchester, according to Cuomo’s office.
“This is a public-health decision,” Cuomo said of the containment area.
“It’s not a decision that I’m making. I’m accepting the recommendation of Dr. Zucker. In a situation like this, whether you’re president, mayor, governor, let the experts decide and let the science decide the situation.”
Cuomo said residents who live within the containment area will be free to leave their homes and the area so long as they have not otherwise been ordered to quarantine.
The state’s order will not apply to grocery stores, which will be allowed to remain open, he said.
New Rochelle’s outbreak has centered around its Young Israel synagogue, where dozens of congregants have developed the coronavirus disease after a series of large gatherings the weekend of Feb. 22.
That appears to be where the center of the containment area is located, based on a map shown during Cuomo’s news conference at the state Capitol.
The governor could not provide an address for the center of the containment area, but it is believed to be centered around the Young Israel synagogue. Cuomo’s office pledged to provide more detailed information later Tuesday afternoon.
Jon Campbell is a New York state government reporter for the USA TODAY Network. He can be reached at JCAMPBELL1@Gannett.com or on Twitter at @JonCampbellGAN.
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