New York Gov Andrew Cuomo has ordered all schools in nine New York City coronavirus hotspot zipcodes to close and has threatened to shut down religious institutions if they don’t agree to comply with social distancing rules.
The schools, both public and private, will be required to close from Tuesday onwards in the Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods where COVID-19 positivity rates have been surging.
Cuomo could not immediately confirm exactly how many schools will have to close and for how long. It is believed about 100 public schools and 200 private schools are located within these zipcodes.
The number of new COVID-19 cases have been rising in pockets of the city, predominantly in neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens that are home to the city’s large Orthodox Jewish population.
Many religious schools in these neighborhoods resumed in-person classes in early September.
Cuomo also threatened to shut down temples and churches in those neighborhoods following ‘super-spreader’ mass gatherings that he said ‘have been going on for weeks’.
He said he was meeting directly with Orthodox leaders on Tuesday to seek their help with getting people to comply with the rules.
Cuomo said if the religious leaders don’t agree to enforce social distancing rules, including mask wearing, he will shut them down.
He specifically referenced recent mass gatherings involving members of Orthodox Jewish communities that he said numbered in the thousands.
‘We know mass gatherings are the super spreader events. We know there have been mass gatherings going on in these communities for weeks,’ Cuomo said.
‘These clusters have to be attacked. Stamp them out immediately and dramatically.
‘If you do not agree to follow the rules, then we will close the institutions down. I am prepared to do that.’
Cuomo said he had spoken to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio earlier on Monday and said the state would be taking over enforcement in cities hotspot zipcodes.
De Blasio had on Sunday asked Cuomo to close schools and non-essential businesses after test positivity rates rose above 3 percent in those areas for seven days straight.
Cuomo, however, has allowed non-essential businesses in those hotspots to remain open for now.
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SOURCE: Daily Mail, Emily Crane