Despite protestations from some Hudson Valley communities, there will be no change in the status of the COVID-19 micro-clusters in Rockland and Orange County, though infection rates are trending in the right direction.
In the Rockland County micro-cluster, the red zone has seen an infection rate drop from 11.6 percent to 4.8 percent, and from 9.1 to 6 percent in the yellow zone in the past 10 days.
Orange County recently saw a spike in COVID-19 infection rates, with some areas reaching a 34.2 percent positive infection rate, and Rockland peaking at 13.1 percent in the last week of September.
In the past week, those numbers have dipped to 4.2 percent in Orange County and 4.8 percent in Rockland.
Following the spike, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo isolated certain clusters where the infection rate was rising the quickest, implementing new restrictions on certain communities that were designated in “red,” “orange,” and “yellow” zones.
Restrictions include the closure of schools and non-essential businesses, limits on the number of people permitted to congregate or gather at any one time, and a rollback on restaurants.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state has been working to identify where outbreaks began, trace it back, contain it, and eliminate it.
“We’ve been identifying the micro-cluster, and we call it a red zone … then we put a buffer around it and you have an orange zone … then you put a buffer around that and you have your yellow zone,” he said during a COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday, Oct. 21 in Albany. “It’s like dropping a pebble in a pond,” he added. “You have your ripples and those concentric circles, and that’s how COVID spreads.”
Despite the improved numbers, Cuomo said that there will be no changes made in the yellow or red zone, and there will be an increase in community testing.
In Orange County, the red zone has seen a reduction from 12.8 percent to 4.2 percent in the past 10 days, and the yellow zone has plummeted from 19 percent to 1.6 percent, though there will also be no changes to either zone.
“This is much better than what we were doing and what many states are doing, which is shutting down an entire state due to only having statewide data,” Cuomo said. “We went from reducing activities in the entire state to doing that in regions, and now we can reduce activities in a small area so it’s only in your area. It allows our economy to run with less disruption.”
Cuomo said that the state will review the data after two weeks to determine whether a micro-cluster has reduced the viral spread, at which point there could potentially be a reduction in the area’s designation.
The state will adjust zones based on the infection rate data:
- To exit a red zone: less than 3 percent after 10 days (4 percent in less populated areas);
- To exit an orange zone: less than 2 percent after 10 days (3 percent in less populated areas);
- To yellow a red zone: less than 1.5 percent after 10 days (2 percent in less populated areas).
“What we’ve seen, is that this is working. We’ve said it before, but it’s all about compliance and enforcement,” Cuomo said. “A cluster does not happen unless two things happen, a lack of compliance, and a lack of enforcement.
“We’re going to see small flare-ups in these micro-clusters because they’re in such small areas,” he added. “We can’t be alarmed by the micro-cluster, because their infection rates are still lower than most states.”
Statewide, there were 90,540 COVID-19 tests administered yesterday, with 1,201 (1.32 percent) testing positive. There are currently 942 people hospitalized with the virus and there were 12 new fatalities.
Since the pandemic began, New York has administered 13,072,715 COVID-19 tests, with 486,480 testing positive. A total of 25,672 New Yorkers have died since mid-March.
"We have what we believe is the most sophisticated COVID detection and elimination system of any state because we've spent time, we've invested and because New Yorkers are invested. What's the best you can do? Detect the smallest outbreak as soon as it happens," Cuomo said. "Trace it back to where it starts, find a small outbreak or cluster, and jump on it.
"Quick action to contain it and eliminate it," Cuomo continued. That is the best you can do in this situation. You see an ember land in dry grass, ring the alarm, everybody run, stamp out the ember. The embers are what we call micro-clusters, and we can identify them from the testing data, from the hospitalization data, and mapping software."
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