Cuomo zeroes in on COVID-19 spikes in Brooklyn and Queens while looking long-term at crisis

FILE PHOTO: People wait in long lines for COVID-19 testing in Houston
FILE PHOTO: Overheated, a healthcare worker takes a break as people wait in their vehicles in long lines for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing in Houston, Texas, U.S., July 7, 2020. (REUTERS/Callaghan O’Hare/File Photo)

Governor Andrew Cuomo is bracing the government to handle expected spikes in COVID-19 as New Yorkers get into the fall and some counties see an increase.

In preparation for the harsher months, Cuomo extended his executive order putting a pause on all residential evictions all the way through January 2021 while government staff work to contain hotspots primarily in Brooklyn, Orange and Rockland counties.

“The point of the tests is to be able to pinpoint, identify the clusters to find where the cases are coming from. Brooklyn is a major contributor to the number of cases,” Cuomo said Monday morning. “Our officials are going to be reaching out to those Brooklyn communities, Orange and Rockland today to implement additional testing and compliance measures. It is very targeted.”

Currently, the infection rate statewide is at 1.5%, half a percentage point above the administration’s goal. Spread in some counties were traced back a church gathering as well as a public house.

According to the governor, some of this preparation comes as other countries such as France, Israel and Spain see an “alarming” uptick in infections.

A new executive order will require the state Department of Health to alert all travelers coming into the state that there is mandatory two-week quarantine for countries on a level 2 to level 3 advisory due to respective infection rates.

“That is all but 31 countries on the globe subject to that quarantine,” Cuomo added.

Judith Goldiner, attorney-in-charge of the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society, issued a statement expressing skepticism for the governor’s moratorium claiming it does not protect renters from open hostility on the part of the landlord such as litigation.

“The devil is in the details, and we have yet to see an executive order with any specifics. A true moratorium will protect all tenants regardless of circumstance and not include any exemptions that landlords could exploit to drag our clients to court on frivolous grounds. Moreover, New York will still very much be in the midst of a public health crisis come 2021, and relief for tenants must extend well beyond the end of the pandemic. We eagerly await executive order language and hope that it truly provides the comprehensive relief that our clients deserve.”

Brooklyn zip codes such as 11219 are seeing a current infection rate 17%, prompting the governor to call on local government and private schools and businesses to get rapid testing up and running as well as imposing other measures in compliance with New York state law. Cuomo releases the positivity rate by zip code as follows:

Rockland County 10977 – 30%
Rockland 10952 – 25%
Orange 10950 – 22%
Kings 11219 – 17%
Kings 11210 – 11%
Kings 11204 – 9%
Kings 11230 – 9%
Queens 11367 – 6%