Cuomo Warns Nassau To Step Up COVID-19 Enforcement

Special Police Officers patrol the boardwalk at Long Beach on the first day that New York beaches were opened ahead of the Memorial Day weekend following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Long Island, New York, U.S., May 22, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Gov. Andrew Cuomo criticized Nassau County for being among local governments that he said are not properly enforcing New York State social distancing orders aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus.

His comments came as the governor is sounding the alarm about 20 zip codes that have recently become COVID-19 hot spots in Brooklyn, Rockland, and Orange counties, where infection rates are between five and 18 percent — well above the statewide average of about 1 percent. Also of concern is a “little pocket in Nassau,” Cuomo said.

“Nassau … has a couple of communities affected,” the governor told reporters during a news conference Wednesday. “They have to enforce the state law. And they’re not doing it with enough diligence. Period.”

“It is not up to them to say, ‘Well we’re not going to enforce the mask ordinance, we’re going to offer a mask,'” he added. “It’s too late in the game to do that.”

Michael Fricchione, a spokesman for Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, defended local agencies’ efforts to combat he pandemic.

“Our police department, fire marshal, and Department of Health will continue to be on the ground to enforce the governor’s mandates to protect the health and well-being of our residents,” he said. “Wearing masks and social distancing are keys to our success in containing COVID-19.”

Curran noted that the public has a role to play.

“As always, we are guided by the data and we are keeping a close eye on disease activity throughout the county,” she said. “Our Department of Health is closely monitoring all positive cases, identifying problem areas, and working to contain any possible spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Residents are reminded to answer any calls from a contact tracer and to please cooperate with their requests.”

On Wednesday, Nassau reported a positivity rate of 1.35 percent, with 66 residents testing positive out of 4,876 tested. Hospitals in the county reported 41 COVID-19 patients, 15 ICU patients, and four on ventilators.

Nassau has had 46,857 confirmed coronavirus cases and 2,201 COVID-19 fatalities since the pandemic began in March, according the state data. It ranks 11th nationwide for counties with the most deaths from the virus and 18th nationwide for confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. That’s progress since April, when the county ranked as having the most cases and deaths of any county nationwide outside of New York City.

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