Schools, houses of worship and large gathering places will be closed down for two weeks across a "containment area” set up around the New York suburb of New Rochelle, the center of what appears to be the nation's largest cluster of cases of the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.
The state is to send National Guard troops to help clean surfaces and deliver food across a 1-mile-radius (1.6 km) centered on a point near a synagogue connected to a number of existing cases, Cuomo said.
The state and a private health center are setting up a testing facility in the area. Meanwhile, schools within the zone will close for two weeks starting Friday while state and local officials work 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,” Gov. Cuomo 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.
Around the state, patients are spread from Long Island to the Capital Region.
The new coronavirus that has stricken thousands across the globe causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and coughing fits, for most. For some, however, especially older adults and those 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.