It’s not like the movies, but it might be soon.
The State of New York has implemented the east coast’s first ‘containment zone.’
New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo announced today that the state would be limiting large public gatherings in New Rochelle to subdue a localized outbreak.
“New Rochelle, at this point, is probably the largest cluster of these cases in the United States,” Cuomo said at a press conference on Tuesday, according to the New York Times.
New Rochelle, a city in Westchester County, is just north of New York City.
Last week, two lawyers who live in Westchester County, but work downtown Manhattan, were the first New York cases of COVID-19 to be diagnosed in the state.
The ‘containment area’ is a one-mile radius centered around a synagogue that officials believe is the epicenter of the state’s outbreak.
The Rabbi of the synagogue, Reuven Fink, is one of the community members to have fallen ill. In a statement on the website of Yeshiva University where he teaches, Fink said he was doing “reasonably well,” and recommended anyone who may have been around him seek medical evaluation.
The synagogue, Young Israel of New Rochelle, announced they would be closed until Saturday, Mar. 14.
Beginning Thursday, “schools and other large gathering facilities like community centers and houses of worship within the area will be closed for two weeks,” Cuomo said in a press conference Tuesday, as reported by the New York Times.
Cuomo described this as “containing facilities,” not “containing people.” Residents of the containment area are not restricted in their travel, but people who think they may have come into contact with someone who has been diagnosed are recommended to self-quarantine.
The ‘contamination area’ in New Rochelle, NY. (CNN)
If the virus becomes more prominent in Canada or the GTA, this kind of quarantine zone could be the kind of first step we see as health officials try to stem the spread of the virus without pulling the breaks on everything all at once.
As of Friday, all confirmed cases in New York state could be traced back to the initial infection, and the containment area is an attempt to stop the spread of the virus via community contamination.
NBC reported on Monday that four thousand people across the state had self-quarantined. Of those four thousand, 2700 are in New York City, and 1000 are in Westchester County.
Those people who have chosen to self-quarantine have contacted media about the confusion they feel. Initially, the public health service said they would be checking up on this group on a daily basis, but according to one person who spoke to the New York Times, this has not happened yet.
“We’ve been told everything from it was OK to go out, to we had to sign a release that we’re housebound now,” said the source who received an isolation order and spoke to the New York Times in confidentiality.
“It’s been very crazy,” said a New Yorker under quarantine who does not understand the health service’s directives (published by the NYT).
New York state is seeing some of the highest numbers of COVID-19 so far on the east coast of North America. According to the New York Times, “Governor Andrew Cuomo said that 173 cases had been confirmed statewide.”
There are 36 confirmed cases of the virus in New York City as of Tuesday morning.
“One of the new Manhattan patients is a man in his 50s who lives on the upper west side and is presenting mild symptoms,” according to NBC News quoting mayor Bill de Blasio, “The man is married with three daughters – all of whom are exhibiting mild symptoms, but it wasn’t confirmed if they had the virus.”
NBC also reported that “disease detectives are working to learn more about any close contacts [the man may have had while contagious.”
“In the United States, more than 700 people in 36 states and Washington D.C. have tested positive for the virus so far, and at least 26 people have died,” reports the New York Times.
These numbers are expected to rise before they start to fall, but there’s no projected timeline for when that might happen.