NEW YORK, N.Y. (WWNY) - Schools in New York City’s hotspot zip codes will be closed starting Tuesday to try to tamp down on the spread of COVID-19.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a briefing Monday that after a phone conference with city leaders, the state is taking over enforcement in the hotspots.
Many of the schools in those areas have been tested for the virus, he said, so no one knows if it’s safe for students to be in them.
“Some of the schools in the hotspot zip codes have been tested, but some have not,” he said. “How can you send children into a school in a hotspot zip code when you know that you don’t have any information as to whether or not it’s safe?”
Another problem in those areas, he said, are mass gatherings, largely religious ones.
The governor said he’s meeting with religious leaders – primarily in the Orthodox Jewish community -- on Tuesday to see if they’re willing to comply with an enforce the rules.
“If you do not agree to enforce the rules, we will close the institution down,” he said.
Cuomo said the state doesn’t have the personnel on its own to enforce these areas, so local governments will have to supply the workforce.
The governor said the state is also considering restricting nonessential activities in these areas, such as restaurants and other businesses allowed under phase four reopening.
He said the state is looking at using something other than zip codes as a template to identify hotspots, because zip codes don’t necessarily define the neighborhoods where they’re happening.
Overall, these hotspots had an infection rate of 5.5 percent on Sunday.
Without these clusters, the statewide average was 1.01 percent. With them, it was 1.22 percent.
Also on Sunday, the virus claimed the lives of eight New Yorkers. There were 636 people in hospitals, 149 in intensive care, and 70 on ventilators.
Jefferson County health officials say there’s little reason to get too excited - as long as we keep doing what we’ve been doing.
“Through the pandemic, we’ve had outstanding metrics. We’ve had a low infection rate. Now we’re working with all sorts of businesses and the school systems so we can function, so we can peacefully coexist with this virus,” said Stephen Jennings, Jefferson County Public Health.