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NY gov deploys National Guard to control coronavirus

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pictured on Aug. 28, 2019 in Queens, NY. (Go Nakamura /New York Daily News/TNS)
March 10, 2020

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called in the National Guard to New Rochelle to create a coronavirus containment center in the city.

Cuomo announced the planned New Rochelle containment area, of one mile in radius, during a Tuesday press briefing on the coronavirus in New York. The proposed containment area would stand for two weeks, starting on Thursday.

Cuomo’s announcement comes as the state of New York has confirmed 173 total coronavirus cases. Westchester County, where New Rochelle is located, has confirmed 108 of the state’s overall cases, including 10 of its newest confirmed cases.

The two week containment period appears to be generally in line with the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) assessment of the coronavirus’ incubation period in a person.

New York’s National Guard has already dispatched troops to assist health department officials in New Rochelle, Cuomo said as he presented the latest updates on the virus. Cuomo said the troops will assist in delivering food to homes and help clean public spaces.

Cuomo noted that health experts have found the coronavirus to be able to live on a hard surface for two days or more, “So cleaning those surfaces is very important, cleaning it with the right material and the National Guard will be very helpful on that.”

“It is a dramatic action, but [New Rochelle] is the largest cluster in the country, and this is literally a matter of life and death,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo did note that the containment measure is being focused on facilities, rather than people. He said people in the prescribed area are not being restricted from leaving.

“You’re not containing people, it’s facilities. Somebody who lives in that containment area could be in this room today. There’s nothing you can do about that,” Cuomo said.

Schools in New Rochelle will also be closed for two weeks as part of the strategy to help mitigate the disease. Public schools in the state would also implement a policy to begin a 24-hour closure following any confirmed coronavirus case, after which officials would assess whether the school should reopen or remain closed as needed.

The new public health measures come just one day after Rick Cotton, head of the Port Authority for New York and New Jersey, tested positive for the virus.

New York is the state second hardest hit by the coronavirus, after the state of Washington, which has seen 179 cases and 22 deaths. New York has seen no deaths from the virus thus far.

According to a Johns Hopkins University assessment included in Cuomo’s presentation, 114, 595 coronavirus cases have been identified worldwide, of which 4,028 have resulted in fatality. Another 64,046 people have recovered from their cases, while the outcomes of 46,521 more cases are still pending.