New York Institutes Virus ‘Containment Zone’ Outside City

In this screenshot from a televised press conference Tuesday, March 10, 2010, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced restrictions for a Westchester community grappling to contain an outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

MANHATTAN (CN) — One week after confirming New York’s first positive case of coronavirus, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a 1-mile “containment area” Tuesday for the downstate suburb where COVID-19 cases are surging.

With 108 confirmed cases, the city of New Rochelle in Westchester County “is probably the largest cluster in the United States of these cases,” Cuomo said.

From the next two weeks beginning Thursday, the containment order means that public and private schools within a 1-mile area of New Rochelle will be closed and cleaned.

Meanwhile other “public facilities that bring large quantities of people together” are not allowed to host gatherings, Cuomo added.

“It is a dramatic action, but it is the largest cluster in the country, and this is literally a matter of life and death,” Cuomo said at a press conference Tuesday.

Without going into specifics, Cuomo said that the containment effort would include public buildings such as churches and temples, along with any concerts or conventions that could be occurring.

“We’re closing the large gathering places — schools — in a geographic area around this cluster because this is not your normal pattern,” Cuomo said. “This is not a shotgun pattern of disparate cases; this is a true geographic cluster.”

The governor said that the National Guard would be deployed to New Rochelle to aid with transportation, delivery of food and help with the cleaning of public spaces in the containment area, which will be in place through March 25.

New York will also partner with its largest health care provider, Northwel Health, to deploy a Satellite Testing Facility in New Rochelle, Cuomo said.

Updating the state’s total of confirmed cases to 173, Cuomo said that 17 new confirmed cases brought New York City’s total to 36.

Cuomo noted that that New York has the country’s second-highest number of confirmed cases but no deaths from the virus, as compared with the 179 infections and 22 deaths in Washington state.

Continuing to urge calm and cooperation from New York residents, Cuomo said Tuesday that just 8% of confirmed cases in the state, 14 out 173, resulted in hospitalization.

Outside of the city and its closest neighbor to the north — Westchester sits just above the Bronx — Long Island has 19 confirmed cases in Nassau County and one in Suffolk County. There are also six cases in Rockland, two in Saratoga and one case in Ulster.

New Rochelle attorney Lawrence Garbuz was the state’s first confirmed case, and the Southern District of New York took the step Monday of barring visitors who have traveled to countries in the previous two weeks to five countries where the coronavirus epidemic has hit hardest — China, South Korea, Japan, Italy and Iran. Court officials are also denying entry to those who share living quarters or have otherwise been in close contact with someone from those countries within the last two weeks.

As of the press conference Tuesday, the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 daily tracker had confirmed more 115,000 total cases worldwide.

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