Red, Orange, Yellow: Here are New York's new COVID cluster zones

COVID-19 clusters have been reported in Brooklyn and Queens in New York City as well as Rockland, Orange, Nassau and Binghamton counties in New York

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, October 8, 2020
Hostility, anger over new NYC shutdowns boils over
Josh Einiger has more on the rules and restrictions that take effect on Thursday in New York City COVID cluster zones.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- With infection rates five times higher than the rest of the state, New York is rolling out new restrictions and enforcement of those restrictions in COVID-19 hot spots.

The new rules mean more schools will close across New York City. The teachers' union said that the Department of Education informed principals of 33 additional schools that they will be closed starting Thursday.

One New York City neighborhood erupted in protests after Gov. Andrew Cuomo moved to reinstate restrictions on houses of worship, schools and businesses in areas where coronavirus cases are spiking.

Videos of Tuesday night's protest on social media show hundreds of Orthodox Jewish men gathered in the streets of Borough Park, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, in some cases setting bonfires by burning masks.

Cuomo said the "communities are upset" because they don't want to follow the rules.

"It's hard to enforce in these areas because they don't want to do it. So, it wasn't enforced and now we see the infection rate go up, and now we see more people go into hospitals from these communities. We see more people dying from these communities, so who was helped by not enforcing the rule?" he said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday he was aware of the protests but cautioned that the city is "dealing with a health emergency," telling New Yorkers to act accordingly.

"Even folks who disagree with these new rules to get us out of this crisis: Respect the laws, respect the instructions of the NYPD," the Democrat said, adding that "there'll be consequences" if people don't. "This is a very, very sensitive moment for the future of all of New York City," he said. "We have to stop this problem from growing."

The new restrictions are set to take effect in New York City on Thursday and elsewhere by Friday.

Click here to view the cluster maps if using the mobile app

The Cluster Action Initiative applies to all of Brooklyn as well as cluster parts of Queens, Rockland, Orange, Nassau and Broome counties.

The city is also monitoring rising cases in Crown Heights and Williamsburg in Brooklyn, the mayor said.

The rules -- including shutting down some nonessential businesses -- will be in effect for 14 days when the state will then reevaluate.

RELATED | NYC schools' COVID shutdowns part of Cuomo's bigger plan

The rules are broken down by three colors: Red is the cluster center. Orange is the surrounding area -- a ring around the center. Yellow is a ring around the orange ring -- the precautionary area.

The restrictions in Rockland County are happening just as the area reported another death due to the coronavirus. Areas around Monsey and Spring Valley had consistently been ranked among the top three in the state for high positive testing rates and active virus.

Marcus Solis reports on backlash in Rockland County after a spike in COVID cases led to new lockdowns and restrictions

The clusters are drawn by actual case numbers, not by ZIP code or census tract. Crown Heights and Williamsburg were not listed as a red zone on the governor's new map, but the mayor says the city will keep an eye on the area to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Rules in the red area:

-Houses of worship - 25% capacity, 10 people maximum
-Mass gatherings prohibited
-Nonessential businesses closed
-Takeout dining only
-Schools closed

Rules in the orange area:

-Houses of worship - 33% capacity, 25 people maximum
-Mass gatherings - 10 people maximum, indoor and outdoor
-Businesses - Closing high risk nonessential business such as gyms and personal care
-Outdoor dining only with 4 person max per table
- Schools: remote learning only

Rules in the yellow area

-Houses of worship -50% capacity
-Mass gatherings - 25 people maximum, indoor and outdoor
-Businesses open
-Indoor and outdoor dining
-Schools - Mandatory weekly testing of students/teachers/staff for in-person classes. Testing will start next week.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new rules to help fight COVID clusters, including closing nonessential businesses in the main and surrounding areas of a hot spot.

Most of the New York City and Hudson Valley neighborhoods are home to large enclaves of Orthodox Jews, and community leaders have complained of being singled out for enforcement. Four elected officials who represent Orthodox neighborhoods in New York City complained Tuesday that they had been left out of the decision-making process.

"Though we are the representatives of 'hotspot' neighborhoods, we have been disincluded from conversations with the governor and his leadership team as they made devastating decisions affecting the people we serve," state Sen. Simcha Felder, Assembly member Simcha Eichenstein and City Council members Chaim Deutsch and Kalman Yeger said in a statement.

Gov. Cuomo also announced that fines for mass gathering violations have increased to $15,000. The fines for not wearing face coverings are not maintaining social social distancing can be as high as $1,000 a day.

All school buildings in the red zones are closed and starting Thursday, schools in the orange zones will be closed to in-person learning, the mayor said.

The Teachers' Union said Wednesday night that after comparing the governor's maps against the mayor's, the list of schools closing and going fully remote grows by 33.

RELATED: Fiery protest in Brooklyn amid Cuomo's call for new restrictions

The new limitations are especially difficult for local businesses. One restaurant in Midwood has been surviving on outdoor dining; just opening their indoor dining last week, only to now have to pack up and starting Thursday can offer take out only.

In red zones, it will be like going back to April and May.

All of South Brooklyn is impacted, with the tightest restrictions in the red zones of Borough Park, Midwood, Sheepshead Bay and Gravesend.

NJ Burkett has more on the rules and restrictions in New York City COVID cluster hot spots, which take effect on Thursday.

Central Queens is also on the map, with Rego Park and Forest Hills in the red zone, and to the south, with Far Rockaway and Edgemere in red.

The hope is this will be enough to contain the outbreak.

"If we all do this right, which we did before, in much tougher circumstances we contain this problem to a limited part of the city for a limited period of time, then we reopen in those places and keep moving forward," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

For the areas surrounding the red and orange zones, those schools will now have mandatory weekly testing of students and teachers.

The city is looking at these state maps, which appear to line up along with the nine outbreak ZIP codes to see if they need to close additional schools.

The daily positivity rate was 1.39% and the 7-day average was 1.74%. One number of concern, the reported COVID-19 cases 7-day average. It was at 512 out of the 550 cases threshold.

WATCH: Eyewitness to a Pandemic

It overwhelmed the health care industry, it put millions out of work, it drowned social services in an ocean of need and threatened the food supply Americans had long since taken for granted. At the apex of the crisis and for the weeks that followed, no part of life, or even what followed life, was spared.


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