Coronavirus 'containment zone' in New York county to shut down for 2 weeks, undergo cleaning

A designated “containment zone” in New York’s New Rochelle will close for two weeks beginning Thursday in an effort to contain the spread of novel coronavirus in the area.

In a news briefing Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the area had a radius of one mile surrounding a so-called “hot spot” of COVID-19 cases.

Schools and facilities, including some businesses such as “large gathering places” or those that “bring large quantities of people together,” will close for two weeks as officials work to sanitize the area, officials said. Cuomo added that the National Guard would be assisting the sanitation efforts and Northwell Health was setting up a satellite testing facility in the area.

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People living there, however, would be able to come and go as needed, Cuomo said.

“New Rochelle at this point is probably the largest cluster in the U.S. of these cases,” he said, while announcing 10 new cases in the area, bringing the total to 108. “It’s a significant issue for us.”

New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson asserted in a news conference that the one-mile-radius "containment zone" was not under "quarantine," with people free to come and go as they please. The pause in large gatherings would affect places of worship, country clubs and both public and private schools.

Additionally, Bramson said nursing homes in the city temporarily would suspend outside visitors, and the city's senior centers will be closed until further notice.

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Bramson said the National Guard would be deployed to the city "soon" but urged people not to be uneasy about their presence in neighborhoods as the Guard was not there on a military mission. He said the Guard would be helping the city address the outbreak, including delivering meals to students qualifying for free or reduced lunch but under quarantine or facing school cancellations.

Statewide, New York has confirmed 173 cases. In Westchester County, the majority of the cases have been traced back to a lawyer who works in midtown and visited a synagogue. His two children, wife and a neighbor, as well as several other members of another family, all tested positive after having contact with him.

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"These cases are not representing a random sample," Cuomo said, while giving an updated case count. "They are not statistically accurate to the spread or growth of the disease, it is a selective sampling – we are primarily testing people who are associated with people who test positive."

"This is an evolving situation and we're addressing many different points as we move forward," Dr. Howard Zucker, the state's health commissioner, said.