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State shuts down schools, businesses in COVID clusters

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a new cluster action initiative to address COVID-19 hot spots in Brooklyn, Queens, and Broome, Orange and Rockland Counties.

Working with public health experts, the State has developed new rules and restrictions directly targeted to areas with the highest concentration of COVID cases and the surrounding communities.

The new rules – which include shutting schools and non-essential businesses – will be in effect for a minimum of 14 days.

“A cluster is just that – it’s a cluster of cases, a high density of cases, and it seeps and grows from that cluster almost in concentric circles. Drop a pebble into the pond, the pebble goes in, then there’s one ring, two rings, three rings, and the rings continue across the pond. When you see the cluster, you have to stop it at that point,” Governor Cuomo said.

Governor Cuomo during his daily press briefing on Tuesday.

“Our strategy is to crush the cluster and stop the spread, and we’re announcing a special initiative to do just that. Step one, you take the most dramatic action within the cluster itself where you have the highest density of cases. Understanding that the people in that cluster interface with the surrounding communities, take additional action in the communities surrounding the cluster. Then as a precautionary measure, take action in the communities that are outlying that area.”

The plan creates created red, orange and yellow zones, which red being the worst impacted. Houses of Worship will be limited to 25 percent capacity, mass gatherings prohibited, only essential businesses open, takeout dining only and schools closed.

Fines for violating the rules have been increase to as much as $15,000 and the state is employing city personnel, including police and health department workers, to enforce the restrictions and weed out violators.

Randy Peers, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, called the plan “an overwhelming setback” to the borough’s recovery.

But he added, “At this point, the rules for New Yorkers should be clear: Wear a mask, keep socially distant, wash your hands and use sanitizer often. Don’t shake hands when you can do a Brooklyn elbow bump instead. This is about common-sense compliance and enforcement.”

To find out whether you live in one of the impacted neighborhoods, click the following links:

Broome County (One Area, Yellow) – Click Here for Map

Brooklyn (One Area, Red, Orange and Yellow) – Click Here for Map

Orange County (One Area, Red and Yellow) – Click Here for Map

Queens (Two Areas, Red, Orange and Yellow) – Click Here and Here for Maps

Rockland County (One Area, Red and Yellow) – Click Here for Map

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