ALBANY, New York (AP) — Schools, houses of worship and large gathering places will be shuttered for two weeks in a “containment area” centered in suburban New Rochelle, the heart of what appears to be the nation’s biggest cluster of cases of the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.
The state will send National Guard troops to help clean surfaces and deliver food in the area, a 1-mile-radius (1.6 km) around a point near a synagogue connected to some existing cases, Cuomo said.
The state and a private health system are setting up a testing facility in the area, schools within it will close for two weeks starting Friday and state and local officials are working to determine “large congregate facilities or gathering places” that also will shut down.
“It is a dramatic action, but it is the largest cluster of cases in the country,” he said at a news conference. “The numbers are going up unabated, and we do need a special public health strategy for New Rochelle.”
New Rochelle is at the center of an outbreak of 108 cases in Westchester County, out of 173 statewide as of Tuesday.
New York City has 36 cases, while its population is more than 100 times that of New Rochelle.
The rabbi of the New Rochelle Young Israel Synagogue, who also teaches two undergraduate classes at Yeshiva University’s Washington Heights campus, detailed his experience after testing positive for the coronavirus.
Yeshiva University said it would cancel all in-person classes and scheduled events at both the Wilf Campus and Midtown location at least until March 10 after a student and his family were confirmed to carry COVID-19.
The student’s father was in intensive care due to the disease, according to local news reports, becoming the first to be hospitalized in the state.
Hundreds of members of the stricken family’s synagogue, Young Israel of New Rochelle, were ordered into quarantine after his diagnosis.
The new coronavirus that has sickened thousands across the globe causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough for most people.
For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and can sometimes be fatal.
Officials announced Monday that New York’s newly diagnosed coronavirus patients included the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that runs the region’s major airports.