Governor Cuomo Outlines New Micro-Cluster Strategy to Tackle COVID-19 Hot Spots that Arise in Fall

Strategy Targets Source of COVID-19 Outbreaks Using Address-Level Data

Strategy Based on Governor’s Cluster Action Initiative Used to Address Recent Hot Spots in Brooklyn and Queens as well as Orange, Rockland and Broome Counties

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Saturday October 17th outlined New York State’s new “micro-cluster” strategy to tackle COVID-19 hot spots that may come with the Fall and Winter weather. The micro-cluster strategy is predicated on three principles: refined detection, specific and calibrated mitigation, and focused enforcement.

Using New York State’s approach to track cases by address with the help of nation-leading levels of testing, the State will identify outbreaks and implement mitigation measures tailored to the precise areas where outbreaks occur. The State will implement rules and restrictions directly targeted to areas with the highest concentration of COVID cases, known as red zones, and put in place less severe restrictions in surrounding communities, known as orange and yellow zones that serve as a buffer to ensure the virus does not spread beyond the central focus area. Enhanced focused testing and enforcement will follow.

“One of the lessons we learned in New York is to look ahead and stay ahead. It’s not checkers; we’re playing chess with this virus. In the fall you’re going to see an increased viral transmission rate — that’s just a fact,” Governor Cuomo said. “Until now, we have been targeting all our actions either on a statewide level or a regional level. That worked fine and frankly was our only option because we didn’t have any more sophistication than that.

Governor Cuomo continued, “We now have more sophistication because we’ve been at it for seven months. So rather than looking at COVID-19 data on the state level, regional level, county level or even neighborhood level, we are now going to analyze it on the block by block level. The micro-cluster strategy is not just to calibrate the state or the region, but to calibrate just those specific geographic areas. Target it and target your strategy down to that level of activity. It requires more testing, more targeted testing, and then you have to be responsive to the situations in that specific locality with mitigation measures. It has the advantage of causing less disruption.”

This strategy is based on the Governor’s Cluster Action Initiative, which he announced on October 6, to address COVID-19 hot spots that have cropped up in Brooklyn, Queens, and Broome, Orange and Rockland Counties. That 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.