New York is applying its restrictions on activities during the coronavirus pandemic equally amid a rise in cases in "hot spot" zones around the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.
Cuomo defended efforts to slow down the spread of the virus in Brooklyn, Queens, Rockland, and Orange counties that has included closing non-essential businesses and schools in some areas to prevent broader spread.
Much of the enforcement in recent weeks has included areas that overlap with the Orthodox Jewish community, which has protested the closing of housing of worship, limits to capacity and mask wearing.
But he also this week scolded a band for holding a concert this summer in the Hamptons and a sweet 16 birthday party in Suffolk County.
"I apply it all across the board equally," Cuomo said on Thursday an interview with Comedy Central's "The Daily Show." "Some people just deny the virus and they don't want government telling them what to do in any shape or form."
Cuomo has been making a round of appearances this week on national television shows to promote his new book on pandemic, "American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic," which was released this week.
The book is meant to be a "halftime" talk about the next steps in tackling the ongoing pandemic, Cuomo has said, and
Cuomo, in the same interview, defended his handling of nursing home policy during the pandemic and a since partially reversed order that required nursing homes to not turn away COVID-positive patients discharged from hospitals.
"We never forced anyone into a nursing home," Cuomo said in the interview.
He added some of the illnesses seen in nursing homes that continue to this day may have been inevitable.
"Part of this is never going to change because we're always going to lose the weak and the old," he said.
New York health officials have blamed asymptomatic staff and visitors for spreading the virus in the facilities. The state allowed COVID positive asymptomatic staff to continue working in the facilities until late April.
A report in July released by the state Department of Health pointed to asymptomatic spread, not the March 25 discharge order, as the key cause of the problems in nursing homes during the height of the pandemic in March and April.
The data used in that report is yet to be released by the Department of Health amid calls from lawmakers in both parties to do so.
Nursing home staffers are now testing once a week.
"It's still not a bulletproof plan, because even if you get a test once a week, you can still get the virus," Cuomo said. "Whatever we do is going to be imperfect. It's really an impossible situation. Once the virus comes to this country, you're in trouble."
More than 6,000 nursing home residents have died since the pandemic began in New York earlier this year, according to the state's official count of the death toll. The number is likely higher, however, given the state does not count residents who later died in hospitals.