New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has deployed the National Guard to New Rochelle, a coronavirus hot spot just north of New York City.
"This is unique in the United States of America, we haven't seen this anywhere else. Think about it, New Rochelle has double the cases of New York City, it's true, it's a phenomenon," Cuomo told reporters Tuesday in announcing the deployment. Westchester County, where New Rochelle is located, had 108 COVID-19 cases out of the 173 confirmed infections across the state, according to state health department data Tuesday.
Cuomo compared the number of cases in New York to Washington state, where officials said an outbreak has spread to at least 162 people, killing 22 mostly elderly residents. Across the U.S., at least 25 people have died, but none in New York so far. A man in his 60s died from COVID-19 in Bergen County, New Jersey, state officials confirmed Monday.
Fourteen New Yorkers are hospitalized with COVID-19, Cuomo said, adding "most of the 14 are members of that vulnerable community."
New York National Guard troops have already been dispatched to a health department command post in New Rochelle "to assist with the outbreak," according to a slide he presented at a news briefing.
"We have moved from a containment strategy to more of a mitigation strategy," NY state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said.
Cuomo stressed that the state isn't restricting people from leaving the area. "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," he said.
Cuomo said schools in New Rochelle will be closed for two weeks beginning Thursday, and officials are adding a satellite testing facility within the containment area to test residents for the virus. Northwell Health received the approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday night to run automated testing, Cuomo said.
"This will be a period of disruption for the local community. I understand that," he added.
Correction: This article was updated to correct that Cuomo deployed the New York National Guard to New Rochelle.