‘Containment Area’ Is Ordered for New Rochelle Coronavirus Cluster – The New York Times,

‘Containment Area’ Is Ordered for New Rochelle Coronavirus Cluster – The New York Times,

Schools and other buildings in the city, the center of the state’s outbreak, will be shut, and the National Guard will help distribute food and clean.

The Young Israel of New Rochelle synagogue is at the center of a one-mile containment zone created on Tuesday by New York State officials. Credit …James Keivom for The New York Times

Sarah Maslin Nir Jesse McKinley Published March ,March 14, , (8:) am ET

  • NEW ROCHELLE, NY – The National Guard will move in. Schools, churches and synagogues will be shut down. Large indoor gatherings will be officially banned. The sights and rituals of life in this New York City suburb, which had already been altered, took an eerie turn on Tuesday when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced a drastic new step to try to control the spread of the coronavirus in the largest cluster in the United States. State officials created a one-mile radius “containment area” in New Rochelle, in Westchester County, a move that echoed measures taken in other health crises. The midpoint of the zone was a synagogue that is at the center of the state’s worst outbreak.

    The move seemed likely to be a precursor to similar, and perhaps more severe, actions elsewhere as the virus continues to spread quickly around the country. On Monday, officials in Santa Clara County, Calif., Enacted

    a ban on gatherings of more than 1, (people, and other locations were poised to follow suit. )

    There are now more than 1, 03 cases of the virus in the United States, including more than 288 in New York, which has the third-highest total among states after Washington and California. Unlike those two states, New York has yet to report a death caused by the virus, and Mr. Cuomo’s decision appeared to be geared toward stamping out a disease by eliminating close contact among large numbers of people in an area just north of the nation’s largest city. “This is literally a matter of life and death,” Mr. Cuomo said. “That’s not an overly rhetorical statement.”

    Beginning Thursday, members of the state National Guard will be deployed to New Rochelle to clean schools and to deliver food to quarantined residents, including thousands of students who are now facing two weeks of being isolated at home. Mr. Cuomo said that large gathering places in the containment area, including schools, community centers and houses of worship, would be closed for two weeks. The state did not plan to close streets or to impose travel restrictions, Mr. Cuomo said, noting that he was only “containing facilities” where the virus might spread. Businesses like grocery stores and delis will remain open. Still, the spiraling scope of infection in New Rochelle, and the signific disruptive measures being used to fight it, were unnerving for residents. The streets inside the zone had been fairly empty in recent days and they appeared even more so on Tuesday. And the looming arrival of the National Guard was sure to exacerbate that. “When you see someone from the National Guard on your street, or outside your home, it is natural and human to find it somewhat unsettling, because it is a visible illustration that things in your community are not functioning as they normally do, ” Noam Bramson, the city’s mayor, said at a news conference at City Hall on Tuesday. “But I want to emphasize that the guard is here to help us,” he continued. “They are not here to provide a military function, they are not here to provide a policing function. New Rochelle is not on martial law. ” State and local officials sought to strike a balance between alerting and alarming residents, some of whom had begun to stockpile items like toilet paper, water, and medical supplies. The affected area is a mix of homes and businesses, and it includes at least one country club, as well as houses of worship and a dozen schools – public, private and religious – where sporting events and student plays were already being canceled.

    The news spread quickly around New Rochelle, by word of mouth or, in many cases, through a robocall from Mr. Bramson’s office. Anthony Bulfamante, who runs a local landscaping business, said he had received such a call at 3: pm Ten minutes later, he said, his phone rang again, and it did not stop ringing for the rest of the day, as friends from around the country checked in. Two offered him places to sleep, including a secluded upstate cabin, Mr. Bulfamante said. But even though he had a heart procedure this summer, he declined. “I have no problem sleeping in New Rochelle, ”he said. “You’ve got to live your life.”
    . Bramson acknowledged that some New Rochelle businesses were already suffering, in large part “because a fair percentage of the customer base is already quarantined.” That included his mother, who lives in one of the area’s nursing homes, which have been a source of concern during the outbreak. There were 288 patients with the virus in Westchester on Tuesday, Mr. Cuomo said, adding that most of them were in New Rochelle. The Westchester cluster first came to the authorities’ attention last week, when a lawyer who lives in New Rochelle and works in Manhattan, Lawrence Garbuz, became the (second person in New York) to be found to have the coronavirus.

    The Westchester health commissioner had previously ordered specific closings linked to Mr. Garbuz’s movements in the days before he received the diagnosis: The synagogue he attends, Young Israel of New Rochelle, was ordered closed, and congregants who had attended a bat mitzvah, a funeral or Shabbat services in last month were ordered to isolate themselves at home for 20 days. The containment plan also included setting up a new satellite testing facility for New Rochelle that officials would increase ‘ability to test for the virus in the city, which has a population of around 90, No student, teacher or parent at the three public schools that will be closed has tested positive for the virus. The closings will affect around half of the district’s roughly , 02 students. The district has given the state a list of the 2, students who qualified for free and reduced-price lunched to better coordinate the National Guard’s meal deliveries. “It is inevitable that one of our students or staff will contract the virus, Laura Feijoo, the schools superintendent, said on Tuesday. “What is in our control is for us to be ready.” the city, limited signs of activity, routine and less so, were evident: A girl’s lacrosse team practiced at the Ursuline School, inside the containment zone, and a group of yeshiva students strolled around the streets, offering open air readings of traditional Purim texts to anyone who could not go to synagogue for the holiday. A Chinese restaurant delivered care packages of food that were festooned with stickers reading: “ We are thinking of you. ”

    And late on Tuesday, at a Mexican restaurant in New Rochelle, Summer Pabon, , sat
    alongside a near casualty of the impending containment: a goldfish named Ritz in a plastic cup. Ms. Pabon, 21, who lives in the containment area, said that the goldfish’s owner had left town after the creation of the zone was announced.

    “I was like, ‘Oh my God, Ritz the fish, what are you going to do with Ritz?’” Said Ms. Pabon, a junior studying chemistry at Iona College, which has also suspended classes.

    “People think like the apocalypse is starting here in New Rochelle,” she said. “It’s crazy.” Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Michael Gold and Nikita Stewart contributed reporting.



                                                                   Jesse McKinley                                                                               Updated March

    Jesse McKinley                                                       More than 1, 05 People across the country have tested positive, according to a New York Times database, and at least 75 patients with the virus have died.

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