How 9 governors are handling the next coronavirus wave

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Rachel Roubein and Shia Kapos

How 9 governors are handling the next coronavirus wave

How bad is the pandemic?

New York successfully slowed the virus’ spread since becoming the global epicenter for Covid-19 in March and April. After hitting lows over the summer, the number of new coronavirus cases has begun to creep up in recent weeks amid enhanced testing in hot spot zip codes. New York has been reporting more than 5,000 new cases daily in recent days.

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How New York is fighting the virus

After implementing a statewide shutdown in the spring, Cuomo reopened the state through a regional, phased approach. His strategy now includes face covering requirements, travel quarantine rules, restaurant curfews and restrictions on gatherings.

Cuomo is also utilizing a “micro-cluster” strategy, an approach where the state responds to outbreaks in specific neighborhoods. That has meant new restrictions — including some limits on in-person learning and high-risk, nonessential businesses — additional testing, contact tracing and compliance enforcement on communities and ZIP codes where Covid-19 is surging.

Gareth Rhodes, the deputy superintendent and special counsel at the state Department of Financial Services and a member of the governor’s Covid-19 task force, said the micro-cluster strategy has been effective in controlling the viral spread in hot spot areas and helped prevent another statewide shutdown.

“When there’s evidence that there is broad-based community spread happening and the trend is going in the wrong direction, that’s when we implement the cluster,” Rhodes said. “It serves as a wake-up call to communities that, unless additional actions are taken by the community, there will be further restrictions coming.”

The state has ramped up its testing and contact tracing efforts to better understand how and where Covid-19 is being transmitted. Rich Azzopardi, a senior advisor to Cuomo, said “the big difference between March and April and now is we just know so much more” about how the virus spreads.

“It’s like the fog of war has lifted and you can now see the field,” he said.

Despite focusing on a micro-cluster approach, Cuomo has yet to take the possibility of another statewide shutdown off the table.

“Everything is based on the numbers,” Rhodes said. “We monitor the numbers every single day. there’s no one metric that’s determinative — we look at a series of metrics.”

— Shannon Young

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