New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said ‘religious practices’ within Orthodox Jewish communities has caused the renewed spread of Covid-19 in New York City and other hot spot zones within the state.
Cuomo said that while the overall infection rate in New York was low compared to other states, officials are closely watching ‘mini clusters’ that have popped up to avoid any statewide spikes.
He singled out hotspot neighborhoods across New York City and other parts of the state that are largely Orthodox Jewish strongholds.
‘We’re now having issues with the Orthodox Jewish community in New York where, because of their religious practices etc, we’re seeing a spread,’ Cuomo said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday.
He said health officials would continue to monitor any other potential mini-clusters going forward so the appropriate measures could be taken to avoid future spikes.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said ‘religious practices’ within Orthodox Jewish communities has caused the renewed spread of Covid-19 in New York City and other hot spot zones within the state
‘We’re entering a new phase with Covid that we have to understand. This is not going away any time soon. Best case scenario we’re looking at another year – even if everything works out well,’ he said.
‘While the state’s overall infection rate is one of the lowest in country… we’re seeing mini clusters – one sweet 16th party created 40 cases, one bar violated the rules dozens of cases.’
He said the current mini-clusters, which he noted were occurring in Orthodox Jewish communities, had been narrowed down to about two to three square miles in certain neighborhoods.
‘We see it, we know it, we understand it because we’re doing more testing than anyone else and then you have to attack,’ he said.
‘This is going to be the next year. Those are the lessons we have to learn from the past seven months.’
Cuomo last week imposed strict new restrictions on six coronavirus hot spots in Brooklyn and Queens, as well as Broome, Orange and Rockland counties.
Protests have erupted in some of those neighborhoods and multiple lawsuits have been filed against Cuomo in the last week by Orthodox Jewish leaders who say the state is unfairly singling them out
Cuomo has been urging people living in those hotspot areas to abide by the restrictions or risk hefty fines
The state has closed schools and nonessential businesses in those areas and limited gatherings, including attendance at all houses of worship.
The restrictions have been placed neighborhoods that are home to predominately Orthodox Jewish communities.
Cuomo has been urging people living in those hotspot areas to abide by the restrictions or risk hefty fines even though the new rules ban large gatherings in synagogues amid Jewish holidays.
Protests have erupted in some of those neighborhoods and multiple lawsuits have been filed against Cuomo in the last week by Orthodox Jewish leaders who say the state is unfairly singling them out.
Some have argued that Orthodox Jewish gatherings were being singled out for a clampdown despite huge crowds convening this spring for Black Lives Matter protests across the New York City.
Cuomo insists the new restrictions are based solely on science and coronavirus case clusters in areas that, in his view, have flouted the state’s existing virus-safety rules.
After becoming the nation’s deadliest coronavirus hotspot this spring, New York wrestled its outbreak down to a steady and relatively low level over the summer.
Infections, however, have been rising in recent weeks and hospitalizations are starting to follow.
The hotspots that are under new lockdown restrictions are roughly centered around most of the nine zip codes in Brooklyn and Queens where positive test rates are surging as high as eight percent. In the hearts of the hot spots – color-coded as red zones – schools and non-essential businesses will close and houses of worship are limited to no more than 10 people. The orange and yellow zones face less strict restrictions
The tough new restrictions (above in red) will currently apply to neighborhoods in Brookyn and Queens where COVID rates are surging. Restrictions will also be imposed on some surrounding neighborhoods (above in orange) to act as what he described as a buffer