Too Little, Too Late

Cuomo’s enforcement of virus restrictions is met with anger, hostility in Orthodox communities

By Kathy Kahn

 

Six months ago–April 4, 2020, to be exact– County Executive Ed Day made an impassioned plea to Albany to create a “containment” zone in the Town of Ramapo and other CoV-19 “hot spots” in Rockland, similar to the one he put in place in New Rochelle. Day never got an answer.

Until Monday, October 5, none of the protocols Cuomo put in after shutting down the entire state on March 15 had been adhered to in New York’s Ultra-Orthodox communities.

Six months later, Cuomo is finally doing something about the continued outbreaks in the same areas CE Ed Day voiced concerns over. Cuomo said he would meet with religious leaders in Rockland, Orange, Brooklyn and Queens counties to adhere to the rules.  On Thursday, a robocall went out to nearly 30,000 residents in the “hot spots,” and the reaction was swift: Anger.

By Friday, October 9, Cuomo told the rest of New York what the people of Rockland County already knew:  Ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods have a higher rate of CoV-19 infection than had been previously reported. The Governor went on to say the state’s overall infection rate of 2.8 percent is being impacted by the 20 percent infection rate within Ultra-Orthodox communities—including Monsey, Spring Valley and New Square, all in the 10952-zip code.

 

“These hotspots are in the ‘red zone,’ not by zip code…everyplace else is good but the Mid-Hudson,” Cuomo stated “It’s predominantly in the Orthodox neighborhoods…we have ALWAYS attacked clusters. When restaurants were creating clusters…when local bars were creating clusters…I enforced against them, I closed them down. It is not the first time the State has taken this action.”

Brooklyn Hasidim, outraged at Cuomo’s about-face and total lack of enforcement in their neighborhoods up until this week, took to the streets Thursday evening protesting and starting bonfires.  Cuomo response to their reaction during Friday’s coronavirus briefing? He blames President Donald Trump for the Orthodox backlash.

To prove his allegation, he  played the following recording he considered proof  Trump’s campaign is  behind the brouhaha in the Orthodox communities as a result of his  newly imposed shutdown: “We just hung up the phone again—we are in contact with the Trump campaign—Come to 13th Avenue and hold up as many signs–CUOMO HATES JEWS–as possible.”

Orthodox communities are seeing red as a result  the proposed enforcement in the “red zones”,  but they are not alone: restaurants and businesses in the “red zone” are shut down all over again, as are public and private schools, because of Cuomo’s decision to enforce the same CoV-19 mandates businesses and residents have been complying with, even if unwillingly,  since mid-March.

The Rockland County Times was in the queue waiting to ask the Governor why he failed to respond to Ed Day’s repeated requests for intervention six months ago. RCT was not among the select few Cuomo chose to speak to take calls from.

“Yes, I saw the press conference,” said Day, resting at home after shoulder surgery. “Our Department of Health used the same metrics Gov. Cuomo use and we relied on testing, not zip codes.  Rockland County would have never had an outbreak of this magnitude if the Governor had acted back on April 4.”  77 percent of the cases are within the Town of Ramapo’s borders.