Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it “a matter of life and death” and called in the National Guard to deliver food to residents and to clean public gathering places impacted by the containment zone.
A 1-mile containment zone in New Rochelle, a city in Westchester County just outside of New York City, will be set up in hopes of slowing down the spread of the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.
Officials say they hope this “dramatic action” will curb what appears to be one of the largest clusters of virus infection in the country.
“New Rochelle is a particular problem,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a press conference Tuesday. “The numbers continue to go up, the numbers are going up unabated, and we do need a special public health strategy for New Rochelle.”
As of Tuesday, New Rochelle has the largest number of COVID-19 cases in the state of New York. With a population of more than 78,000 people, the city has seen more cases than NYC, Cuomo said.
“That is really breathtaking,” Cuomo said while announcing the new measures. “This is the greatest public health challenge we have in the state right now.”
As part of the containment strategy, large gathering places in the area, such as schools, houses of worship, and a Boys & Girls Club, will shut down for two weeks starting Thursday. State officials will compile a list of other possible locations that will shut down in the 1-mile radius zone.
“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. “That is not an overly rhetorical statement.”
Residents of the area will be allowed to leave and enter the zone, small businesses are expected to remain open, and people will be allowed to move about as they would in a normal day, officials said. Locations where large numbers of people gather will be shut down and cleaned to help stop or slow down the rapid spread of COVID-19.
National Guard troops will be called to the area to help with cleaning schools and other locations where people gather, Cuomo said, as well as to deliver food and assist in transportation services.
The containment zone, which is centered where officials have seen a concentration of coronavirus infection cases, is expected to remain in effect from March 12 to 25.
“This will be a period of disruption for the community; I understand that,” Cuomo said. “Shop owners don’t like the disruption; nobody does. Local politicians don’t like the disruption; I get it. This can’t be a political decision. This is a public health decision.”