After declaring a state of emergency Saturday over the coronavirus epidemic, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is taking increasingly dramatic steps this week to address the issue, including deploying the National Guard to help establish a one-mile containment area in what the governor has described as the “most significant cluster [of COVID-19 cases] in the country.”
As NBC News New York details, Westchester County — particularly New Rochelle, from which a lawyer linked to multiple COVID-19 cases hails — has become a hotbed of coronavirus infections, accounting for around 60% of all tri-state cases.
When Cuomo declared the state of emergency Saturday, New York had 89 confirmed cases. As of Tuesday, that number rose to 173, the second-most of any state in the country (Washington has confirmed 179). Westchester County contains 108 of the state’s cases.
Because of the concentration of cases in New Rochelle, the city will soon be the site of a satellite testing facility as well as a one-square mile containment area within the city intended to prevent further spreading of the virus.
To help carry out these measures, Cuomo deployed the National Guard Tuesday to the Health Department “command post” in the area, from which servicemembers will conduct operations in the containment zone, including helping to sanitize surfaces and deliver food, NBC reports.
The plan is for that particularly high-risk area in New Rochelle to be contained for two weeks, through March 25. During that time, NBC notes, public schools within the containment zone will be closed.
“New Rochelle is home to the midtown Manhattan lawyer who has been linked to dozens of cases across multiple states,” NBC explains. “He was the second confirmed case in New York and its first instance of community spread.”
As reported by The New York Times, when he officially declared the state of emergency over the weekend, Cuomo explained that he did so in order to give the state more ability to purchase supplies, in part by skirting purchasing regulations when necessary, and hire workers to assist local health departments now monitoring thousands of cases.
“Somebody has to go knock on their door, once a day. This is labor intensive,” said the governor.
The Centers for Disease Control maintains that the risk of being exposed to COVID-19 remains low for the majority of people in most areas and most professions. Key points from the CDC’s current risk assessment below:
- For the majority of people, the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low. There is not widespread circulation in most communities in the United States.
- People in places where ongoing community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated risk of exposure, with increase in risk dependent on the location.
- Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure, with increase in risk dependent on location.