County sheriffs should enforce the 10-person limit on gatherings in home as set by New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.
Upstate county sheriffs in recent days have signaled they would not enforce the limit, which is also advised by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a way of limiting the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cuomo called the opposition to enforce the limit from sheriffs in Erie, Madison, Fulton, Saratoga, and Rensselaer counties "frightening."
"There's a law. You have to enforce the law or don't call yourself a law enforcement officer," Cuomo said at a news conference in Albany. "Is it hard to police? Yes. But if you see it, stop it."
Several states, including New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, have also set a 10-person limit on gatherings in homes.
Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino, in an interview with Spectrum News on Tuesday, said his concern was rooted in the constitutionality of the order.
"We can't set aside the constitution for our own purpose or if it's a good intent I have to disregard it," he said. "The law says I can't enter your house unless you give me consent, I have a search warrant, or if there's an emergency or exigent circumstance."
But Cuomo is urging New Yorkers to not hold Thanksgiving celebrations with people outside of their immediate families this year in order to prevent "living room spread."
"This living room spread is the new problem, and it will go up after Thanksgiving," Cuomo said, adding there will be a "tremendous spike" after the holiday in COVID-19 cases.
"It's going to happen because it's human behavior," he said. "My advice on Thanksgiving? Don't be a turkey."
Coronavirus cases are increasing all over the country and in New York as well. New York has one of the lowest infection rates in the country. Still, the state is seeing COVID-19 rates rise to levels not seen since the spring.
New York's statewide positive rate in the last day reached 3.43%. Over the last seven days, the state's positive rate has been 2.9%. No state in the country has had a positive rate of less than 2% as COVID cases continue to rise across the country.
Thirty-five people were confirmed to have died in the last 24 hours of the virus, and 2,202 are now hospitalized due to COVID-19.