Oct 17, 2020 - Health

N.Y. deploys "micro-cluster strategy" to target coronavirus "block by block"

New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference

New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday announced the state will deploy a "micro-cluster strategy" to target the coronavirus "block-by-block" instead of at the statewide or regional levels.

Why it matters: Cuomo said that while New York's infection rate has remained relatively low — at an average of 1.1% average as of Saturday — “the fall is a new phase."

  • "When you get to the fall, schools are reopening, kids are coming back to college, it’s colder outside, people are coming indoors, you can’t do the indoor dining as much. The fall itself has an effect on the spread of the virus,” the governor added at a news conference.
  • There has also been a surge in cases in areas of New York City, including parts of Brooklyn and Queens.

Details: "We are now going to analyze it block-by-block," Cuomo said.

  • "We actually have data so specific that we can't show it because it could violate privacy conditions, but we know exactly where the cases are coming from."
  • Cuomo said said micro-clusters would be labeled "red zones," with "orange" and "yellow" zones in surrounding areas.
  • Based on the zones, officials will implement targeted testing, mitigation efforts and enforcement for each locality.
  • Cuomo also said that beginning Oct. 23, movie theaters outside New York City could reopen at 25% capacity with up to 50 people per screen.

The bottom line: "A cluster signifies a lack of compliance, common sense. The only answer is more enforcement," Cuomo said.

  • "If people are following the rules, the virus does not spread," he added.

Watch to watch: Axios' Bryan Walsh notes that "a targeted lockdown is inevitably going to appear to single out specific groups of people, which risks creating a backlash that can undermine public support for long-term control measures."

  • That's already been the case in New York City, where Orthodox Jewish communities have taken to the street to protest targeted lockdowns in their Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Go deeper: Targeted lockdowns are the new way to control the coronavirus

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