Cuomo tells local governments to step up enforcement in COVID clusters: 'Either you do the job or people die'

Photo credit Spencer Platt/Getty Images
By 1010 WINS

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that 20 “hot spot ZIP codes” in New York have a COVID infection rate of 5.5%—more than five times the state's infection rate—as he warned local governments weren't doing enough enforcement.

The hotspot ZIP codes are in Rockland and Orange counties, as well as Brooklyn, Queens and parts of Nassau, Cuomo said.

The hardest hit was ZIP code 10952 in Rockland, which had a positivity rate of 17%. After that was ZIP code 10977 in Rockland, with a positivity rate of 14%. The ZIP code 11230 in Brooklyn had a positivity rate of 8%. It was followed by a slew of Brooklyn ZIP codes with positivity rates up to 6%.

“The overall positivity rate in all 20 (ZIP codes) is 5.5%. That’s about five times the infection rate statewide,” Cuomo said, adding that the state’s infection rate outside the hotspots was just 0.82%.

Cuomo said the hotspots made up 23% of all new positive cases reported in the state despite only reflecting 6% of the state’s population.

“It’s those hotspot ZIP codes that we have to watch, because if you don’t control a cluster, a cluster becomes community spread,” Cuomo said.

The governor said that on Wednesday morning he’d spoken with leaders of Orthodox Jewish communities impacted by some of the clusters.

“I explained the situation frankly and candidly and we had a good exchange,” Cuomo said. “I think it’s fair to say the leaders of the community understand and they’re going to take action, and we’re going to come up with an action plan.”

During a call with reporters Wednesday, Cuomo blamed local governments in places like Orange, Rockland and New York City for not doing enough to enforce rules like mandatory masks.

“The local governments must do compliance; it is a state law and the localities must enforce it,” Cuomo said. “And they’re not doing it with enough diligence.”

“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,” Cuomo continued. “We’re past public education … Enforce the law.”

The governor said if local governments “are unwilling to enforce the law, I will enforce the law.”

Cuomo said he would have local governments assign a number of their police officers to the overstretched state police task force. “Then I will enforce with the task force and I will ticket people who don’t wear masks,” he said.

“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,” Cuomo said.

“Why does this nation lose more people than any nation on the globe? Because we have an incompetent federal government. I’m not going to let that happen in the state of New York. And I’m not going to let it happen because we have incompetent local governments. It’s that simple. It’s not about politics, 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,” Cuomo said.

On Wednesday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio said hundreds of NYPD officers, along with hundreds more compliance officers from city agencies, would be heading to parts of Brooklyn and Queens to help with outreach and enforcement of health requirements.

Cuomo said there were 1,000 more positive cases in New York state out of 97,960 tests performed Tuesday—an infection rate of 1.02%. There were 605 hospitalizations and nine more deaths.