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Cuomo: WNY headed for micro-cluster restrictions due to rising COVID numbers

Posted at 12:11 PM, Nov 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-06 23:33:12-05

ALBANY, N.Y. (WKBW) — Governor Andrew Cuomo will work with local officials over the weekend to develop a micro-cluster strategy aimed at tackling Western New York's rising COVID-19 numbers, the governor announced Friday morning.

"Western New York is a problem," Cuomo said in a conference call. "Downstate New York is doing better than Upstate New York, which is a total reversal than the first phase of COVID.”

The seven-day average positivity rate in the Western New York region is 2.8 percent - the highest in the state. Erie County has the highest rate within the region at 3.1 percent. The highest density of cases are in Buffalo, Hamburg, Tonawanda and Orchard Park, Governor Cuomo said.

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COVID patient treated in hospital.

"At these numbers and in these areas, a micro-cluster response is appropriate," stated Cuomo.

Cuomo will make an announcement Monday about a micro-cluster strategy that is tailored to the particulars of the area. Monroe County, home of Rochester, and Onondaga County, home of Syracuse, will also be designated as micro-clusters.

According to the state, cluster zone focus areas "are designated based on geographic case prevalence and restrictions are implemented accordingly based on the severity of spread."

New York categorizes its micro-clusters as yellow (precautionary), orange (warning) and red, which is the most severe. The governor did not say which zone may be assigned to Western New York or what any new restrictions would look like.

Red Zone

  • Houses of Worship: 25 percent capacity, 10 people maximum
  • Mass Gatherings: Prohibited
  • Businesses: Only essential businesses open
  • Dining: Takeout only
  • Schools: Closed, remote only

Orange Zone

  • Houses of Worship: 33 percent capacity, 25 people maximum
  • Mass Gatherings: 10 people maximum, indoor and outdoor
  • Businesses: Closing high-risk non-essential businesses, such as gyms and personal care
  • Dining: Outdoor dining only, 4 person maximum per table
  • Schools: Closed, remote only

Yellow Zone

  • Houses of Worship: 50 percent capacity
  • Mass Gatherings: 25 people maximum, indoor and outdoor
  • Businesses: Open
  • Dining: Indoor and outdoor dining, 4 person maximum per table
  • Schools: Open with mandatory weekly testing of students and teachers/staff for in-person settings. The New York State Department of Health will establish a percentage of teachers and students/staff who need to be tested by Friday.

In addition, Cuomo said because of the rising numbers in Western New York, it would be irresponsible to allow fans into Bills Stadium "at this time." The state will continue to monitor the numbers, he said.

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Buffalo Bills Fans.

"It would be reckless — from a public health point of view — to open the stadium to spectators at this time," remarked Cuomo.

The governor says he's also worried about gatherings and travelers with the thanksgiving holiday approaching. More National Guard members will be added at airports to enforce travel testing policies.

"I've cautioned before, people should beware of small gatherings this year. I've said that we have a very strict quarantine policy in place for the holiday weekend travel, period. We're going to be increasing enforcement personnel at the New York airports. You should not land if you do not have proof of a negative test upon landing," said Cuomo.