New York officials are creating three-tiered cluster zones around areas that have seen increases in coronavirus cases in recent weeks as officials seek to stamp down a potential second wave of the pandemic this fall.
The regional zones will in some cases close schools and non-essential businesses while limiting dining to take out only.
Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced the cluster zones would be in place in parts of Brooklyn and Queens, as well as Broome, Orange and Rockland counties, as the state's overall case rate stood at 1.4 percent in the last 24 hours. There have been more test results in areas of the state with more COVID-19 infections, Cuomo said.
Also on Tuesday, New York added New Mexico to a list of states requiring travelers to quarantine for two weeks after entering the state. There are now 35 states and territories that have qualified for the quarantine, which applies to areas with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average or an area with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average.
In all, the latest efforts amounted to a push to maintain what have been re-opened businesses and schools in other areas of the state that are yet to see coronavirus case increases.
"Mass gatherings cause infections, which cause a cluster; a cluster causes community spread, that is the natural evolution of things unless we intervene and stop the cycle," Cuomo said.
"We've seen it in colleges, factory settings around the country, in apple plants around New York, a single restaurant on Long Island, we've even seen in the Rose Garden that mass gatherings spread this virus. We're seeing clusters now in several areas in the state and we have to stop the spread before we go backwards on the progress we've made."
The multi-tiered, color-coded zones will radiate out from a point of dense positive cases. Gatherings will be limited. In areas marked orange and red, schools will close for at least two weeks. In yellow areas, schools will remain open, but testing will be required on a weekly basis.
Broome County's areas are only shaded in yellow.
Houses of worship will also be limited in their capacity in the cluster zones. Cuomo on Tuesday said he spoke with Orthodox Jewish leaders about social distancing guidelines and limiting events where people gather in order to halt the spread of the virus.
New York has seen its hospitalizations rise in recent weeks, now at 705 patients. Nine people were confirmed to have died in the last 24 hours of COVID-19.