New Rochelle has been ground zero for COVID-19 in the Hudson Valley after a 50-year-old attorney became the second in New York to test positive for the virus.
In response, this week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he was pulling out all the stops to help curtail the spread of coronavirus out of New Rochelle, including a containment zone and deployment of the National Guard to assist in sanitizing efforts and delivering items to quarantined residents.
“New Rochelle, at this point, is probably the largest cluster in the United States of these cases,” the governor said. Cuomo said that the numbers in New Rochelle continue going up “unabated,” which will require a special public health strategy for the city.
“This is the greatest public health challenge we have in the state right now, and coming up with a special strategy has been (New York State Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker’s) focus,” the governor added.
- Previous story: State Orders One-Mile New Rochelle Containment Area, School Closures To Combat COVID-19 Spread
“Many are concerned about the National Guard, but they are here to assist us not provide a military function or policing function,” Bramson said. “We’re not under Martial Law, and it’s not a quarantine zone. The bottom line is that the guards are here to assist us, so you don’t have to worry about them being here.”
Despite the drastic measures, Bramson wants local residents to remain calm, despite the increasing number of positive cases of COVID-19.
“As a reminder: public health experts have been clear that the great majority of those who contract coronavirus will recover without difficulty, and that we can protect ourselves and our families by following common-sense public health guidelines,” he said. “If you experience symptoms, please consult your doctor or health care provider.”
During the containment, schools, houses of worship and community centers within the containment zone will be closed for two weeks beginning on Thursday, March 12. Large gatherings of people will also be prohibited within the area during those two weeks.
Bramson made note that while the optics of the situation seem dire, New Rochelle “is not under Martial Law and the containment zone is not a quarantine zone. People are free to come and go as they please, and only those under state-ordered mandatory quarantine are confined to their homes.
“This is a major challenge for all of New Rochelle. No community would welcome a challenge of this kind,” he said. “This is naturally a matter of concern for everyone in New Rochelle and clearly a disruption of daily life on top of the concerns of health.
“The people of New Rochelle have proven they are equal to the challenge. We’re listening to the guidance of state and federal health professionals who are all doing their part. I’ve been enormously moved with the way neighbors have come together to assist their neighbors.”
The longtime mayor added that, “as citizens, if we look at this rationally, we can meet this challenge and overcome it.”
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