Initiative Developed in Consultation with Leading National Public Health Experts—Dr. Noam Ross of EcoHealth Alliance, Dr. Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota and Former CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden
New Initiative Maps Clusters by Density of Cases to Address COVID Hot Spots in Brooklyn, Queens, and Broome, Orange and Rockland Counties
Fines for Sponsors of Mass Gatherings Increased to $15,000
New Rules and Restrictions in Effect for Minimum of 14 Days
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday September 6, 2020 announced a new cluster action initiative to address COVID-19 hot spots that have cropped up in Brooklyn, Queens, and Broome, Orange and Rockland Counties. Working with the top public health experts, New York State developed a science-based approach to attack these clusters and stop any further spread of the virus, including new rules and restrictions directly targeted to areas with the highest concentration of COVID cases and the surrounding communities. The new rules will be in effect for a minimum of 14 days.
The plan was developed in consultation with national public health experts including Dr. Noam Ross of EcoHealth Alliance, Dr. Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota and former CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden.
“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. “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 initiative is composed of three steps:
- Take dramatic action within the cluster.
- Take action in the area surrounding the cluster to stop the spread.
- Take precautionary action in the outlying communities.
The initiative will currently apply to clusters in the following areas:
- 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
The initiative will divide clusters and the areas around them into three categories with successively higher restrictions within each one:
Red Zone — Cluster Itself
- Houses of Worship: 25 percent capacity, 10 people maximum
- Mass Gatherings: Prohibited
- Businesses: Only essential businesses open
- Dining: Takeout only
- Schools: Closed, remote only
Orange Zone — Warning Zone
- Houses of Worship: 33 percent capacity, 25 people maximum
- Mass Gatherings: 10 people maximum, indoor and outdoor
- Businesses: Closing high-risk non-essential businesses, such as gyms and personal care
- Dining: Outdoor dining only, 4 person maximum per table
- Schools: Closed, remote only
Yellow Zone — Precautionary Zone
- Houses of Worship: 50 percent capacity
- Mass Gatherings: 25 people maximum, indoor and outdoor
- Businesses: Open
- Dining: Indoor and outdoor dining, 4 person maximum per table
- Schools: Open with mandatory weekly testing of students and teachers/staff for in-person settings. The New York State Department of Health will establish a percentage of teachers and students/staff who need to be tested by Friday.
The enforcement of the zones will go into effect as soon as tomorrow and no later than Friday.
Governor Cuomo also announced that fines for the sponsors of mass gatherings in violation of state public health rules will be increased to $15,000.