State Cracks Down on COVID-19 Regulations in Response to Second Wave

Over the last few weeks state officials, like Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have implemented a number of new COVID restrictions – including limiting gatherings, shutting down New York city public schools and additional microcluster zones set up or expanded. 

Effective Friday, Nov. 13, all bars, restaurants, gyms or fitness centers, and any establishment with a State Liquor Authority license must shut down at 10 p.m.. These establishments must remain closed until 5 a.m. – however, restaurants may continue to provide food-only pick or delivery, as long as alcohol is not served to-go.

In tandem with this new restriction, “indoor and outdoor gatherings at private residences” can’t have more than 10 people in attendance.

“The governor took these actions amid a widespread increase in cases throughout the nation and an increase in New York, which was expected moving into the fall and winter seasons” according to a press release from the governor’s office.

However, as case positivity rates fluctuate and climb in some areas of New York State, more actions have been taken to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

On Nov. 18, it was announced that New York City Public schools would close immediately the next day as the positive test rate reached exactly 3%. 

“[On] our seven-day rolling average for coronavirus positivity, New York City had exactly 3.0%, and, as a result, we do need to close our schools for the coming days,” De Blasio said. “No one is happy about this decision, we all in fact are feeling very sad about this decision, because so much good work has been put into keeping the schools open.”

De Blasio said that he had spoken to Gov. Cuomo about what was needed to re-open the schools, which De Blasio indicated he would like to do soon. 

“[It] will be a higher standard. I want that to be clear. We have a stringent health and safety standard right now. We’re going to have to raise that up even higher to be able to bring our schools back but that’s exactly what we intend to do,” De Blasio said, emphasizing the importance of more testing. 

School Chancellor Richard Carranza indicated that this closure would be temporary, and that free meals for students would still continue during this time. 

However, this sudden school closure caused major confusion for people in New York City because the state and the city calculate their positivity rates differently. As the New York Times reports, “On Sunday, for instance, the city said its seven-day average was 3.09%. Mr. Cuomo’s office, however, put the city’s rate at more than half a point lower, at 2.54%.”

For many in New York City, this was very confusing. However, what is clear, is that many parts of New York, as well as the rest of the country, are facing a rise in cases. 

New micro-cluster designations were given to some counties; parts of the Bronx, Manhatten and Niagara County have seen new yellow zones added, and Queens has expanded their yellow zone. Part of Erie County saw a new orange zone-designated. 

Though, luckily, there are some areas of New York that are seeing a reduction in cases under Cuomo’s new micro-cluster set up. Brooklyn’s orange zone has been reduced to a yellow zone and Broome and Orange county’s yellow zones have been removed. 

For positivity rates from the state, as well as information on micro-clusters as of Nov. 22, look here.

About Emma Ryan 25 Articles
Emma Ryan is a fifth-year double major in Digital Media Production and International Relations, and has a minor in Astronomy. She is interested in writing, politics and science. In addition to being a writer, Emma aspires to work for watchdog groups or international organizations that monitor and combat white supremacy, extremism and terrorism. This is her second semester at The Oracle.