While the outcome of the presidential election has been the focus this week, the coronavirus pandemic has not taken a break. It’s on the rise in New York, and Governor Andrew Cuomo says he’s considering placing new restrictions on portions of Western and Central New York, and the Rochester region, and has declared a town along the Connecticut border as a hotspot.
Cuomo says the rate of the virus is climbing in the Buffalo area, where it has risen to 3.1% in Erie County, including the city of Buffalo, and suburbs of Tonawanda, Hamburg, and Orchard Park. Monroe County is also seeing a spike, to 2.6%, with Rochester and its suburbs of Pittsford, Penfield and Webster showing the highest numbers.
And in Central New York, the rate has risen to 2.2%. Syracuse and its suburb of Cicero have seen cases numbers double in recent days.
Another region of concern is Port Chester, in Westchester County along the Connecticut border, a state where the virus is rising. Port Chester will be designated a yellow zone micro cluster area, and rapid testing will be made available.
Cuomo says he’ll be talking to local officials in the other regions over the weekend to discuss also declaring those areas as micro cluster hot spots. That would mean new restrictions, including closing down schools and businesses. The governor says he’s dropped consideration of allowing fans back in to Buffalo Bills football games.
“It would be reckless, from a public health point of view, to open the stadium to spectators at this time,” said Cuomo. “Which I find disappointing on a personal level. But this is a public health issue first, and as I’ve said, I follow the advice of the public health experts.”
Cuomo says despite the numerous spikes, New York’s rate of COVID-19 is lower than almost any other state. Only Vermont and Maine are doing better.
Some former hotspots in Queens, in the Far Rockaways, and in Brooklyn will see their micro cluster designations reduced or eliminated. Micro clusters in Rockland and Orange County are also being upgraded from red to orange and yellow zones.
Cuomo says the virus rate in the Southern Tier, where it spiked earlier this fall, is going down.
The governor says he remains worried about the spread of the disease over the upcoming holiday season, and will step up National Guard presence at New York’s airports for Thanksgiving. Under rules revised in October, travelers from non-contiguous states must present evidence of a negative test before they are admitted to New York. Once in the state, they have to quarantine for at least three days while they get another COVID-19 test.
“You should not land if you do not have proof of a negative test upon landing,” Cuomo said. "You are supposed to take a test where you are coming from within three days."
The governor says SUNY students, who will be sent home at Thanksgiving break, will not be returning until at least February, and all remaining classes this semester will be conducted remotely.
“And then we’ll figure out in February what we do,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo says he’d like private colleges to adopt similar policies, many already have done so.