New York State will deploy 200 rapid testing machines to the sites of several upticks in specific counties and zip codes throughout the state.
The areas are Brooklyn, Orange County, Rockland County and the Southern Tier. New York State can provide Department of Health staff and rapid testing machines to zip codes and local governments that need them. The Monroe area (10950) is among the places where the testing be focused. Many of these places, such as Kiryas Joel, are home to communities of Orthodox Jews.
Earlier this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo detailed the uptick in cases and test positivity in select ZIP codes in New York State, where 27 percent of positive tests reported on Sunday came from ten ZIP codes where just 3 percent of the state’s population resides.
In the 10950 area of Orange County, 16 percent of the 73 people who were tested tested positive.
At his press conference Wednesday, Cuomo said he spoke with the leaders of the Orthodox community that morning and that a second discussion would take place later in the day with the state health commissioner.
“I explained the situation frankly and candidly and we had a good exchange,” the governor said. “I think it’s fair to say that the leaders of the community understand and they’re going to take action and we’re going to come up with an action plan.”
Cuomo: Local responsibility to enforce state mask ordinance
Cuomo then said enforcement of the state mask ordinance was the responsibility of local governments. He did not specify a particular police agency or municipality although he said the spike in COVID cases were Orange, Rockland and Nassau counties and New York City.
“They’re not doing it with enough diligence. Period,” the governor said. “It is not up to them to say, ‘Well we’re not going to enforce the mask ordinance, we’re going to offer a mask.’ It’s too late in the game to do that.
‘Made it worse, not better’
“The local governments failure to enforce the law has exacerbated this problem,” the governor continued. “They’ve made it worse, not better. It’s not that people don’t know there’s a mask ordinance, they know there’s a mask law, they’re defying the law and that’s when you need to enforce the law.
“If you are unwilling to enforce the law, I will enforce the law,” Cuomo added. “I have about 5,000 State Troopers. If they don’t want to enforce the law, I will enforce the law. I would need the local governments to assign a number of their police to the State Police for a task force and then I will enforce it with a task force. And I will ticket people who don’t wear masks, because that will save lives at this point. We know how to keep the infection rate down, we’re just not doing it in these clusters and that’s a failure of the local government.
‘You can blame me’
“You don’t want to do it politically. I don’t have the personnel. Assign a number of your police to a task force. I will do it in my name and you can blame me. I have no problem with it. I put my head on the pillow knowing I saved lives. That’s how I sleep at night and I know we have. I know this type of activity, incompetent ineffective government will cost lives. We’ve seen it from Trump. He has cost lives. Why does this nation lose more people than any nation on the globe? Because we have an incompetent federal government.
“It’s not about politics,” Cuomo added. “It’s not about personal - we’re well beyond that. It’s a matter of life and death. Either you do the job or people die.”
Information about the rapid testing in the 10950 area and who will be eligible for it was not available at press time.