“Staten Island is a problem” Cuomo says as he moves Richmond County into COVID-19 Orange Zone

STATEN ISLAND, NY –  Staten Island is a problem.  That’s what New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is saying as he moves the island into the orange zone starting tomorrow.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced updated COVID-19 micro-cluster focus zones in New York State. Part of Staten Island’s Yellow Precautionary Zone will become an Orange Warning Zone. Orange Warning Zones will also be established in Monroe and Onondaga Counties. New Yellow Precautionary Zones will be established in Upper Manhattan and Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Modifications to current focus zones and new focus zones go into effect this Wednesday, November 25 for businesses and Thursday, November 26 for schools.

Here’s what the orange zone means for Staten Islanders:

All NYC public, nonpublic and charter schools must close and return to remote learning. Schools can reopen if they meet NYS testing requirements. See here for more information. Businesses including gyms, fitness centers and personal care services (such as barbers, hair salons, spas, tattoo or piercing parlors, nail technicians and nail salons, cosmetologists, estheticians, laser hair removal and electrolysis services) must close. Food Service Establishments Restaurants, bars, cafes, and other foodservice establishments can provide outdoor dining and takeout and
delivery service only. There is a four-person maximum per table. No indoor dining is allowed.

Houses of worship may remain open at 33% capacity up to a maximum of 25 people, whichever is fewer. Nonessential indoor and outdoor gatherings must be limited to no more than 10 people. Any individual who encourages promotes or organizes mass gatherings may be fined up to $15,000 per day.

“Staten Island is a problem. The number of hospitalizations in Staten Island have gone, over the last three weeks, they’ve basically tripled. 33 to 91. It’s a consequence of action. These are our three weeks overall, 122 percent increase. This is where we wind up, 6,047. At the same rate of increase, if Thanksgiving did nothing, if Christmas season did nothing, if we don’t bring down the current rate, we go to 6,000. Staten Island has such an issue that has triggered a hospital capacity issue, and the hospitals have contacted us, and they say they need emergency beds on Staten Island. And we’re going to open an emergency COVID patient facility at South Beach on Staten Island. Remember when we had to set up field hospitals, emergency hospitals for additional capacity? Well, that’s what we have to do on Staten Island.

The Governor also announced that South Beach Psychiatric Center, a new but unopened Office of Mental Health facility on Staten Island, will at the request of the local hospitals be opening as a temporary emergency facility for COVID patients. The facility served as an emergency hospital in the Spring, providing care for COVID patients.

“We need a reality check because these are dangerous times that we’re in. The COVID rate, number of deaths, number of hospitalizations, everything we watch all day on TV, is all a function of our actions. There is no predetermined result here. You tell me what New Yorkers do today, I will tell you the infection rate tomorrow. We are in a place now where there is a bad synergy — a sense of COVID fatigue. Yes, we’re only at 3 percent and only Vermont, Maine, and Hawaii are lower than us, but that can change in an instant and we must remember how we got here,” Governor Cuomo said. “It’s the infection rate in your community that matters, and that’s why we talk about micro-clusters. Influence your family’s behavior and your community’s behavior and be a COVID change agent in your community. We’re social beings and it’s also the high season of social activity. That is a bad combination, and it is always the combination of events that creates the major issues. Now, Upper Manhattan, basically the Washington Heights area, will become a yellow zone. We’re also adding additional yellow zones on Long Island. Parts of Onondaga and Monroe Counties will become orange zones. Staten Island, part is a yellow zone, part is an orange zone. This year, let’s think of Thanksgiving as a time to yes, really give thanks to the people who really did phenomenal things this year, and continue to thank them by doing our part and wearing masks, staying socially distant, and practicing safe behaviors.”