NY has new micro-cluster zone metrics to help nip Covid spread

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 October 2020 at 9:33 pm

Orleans not yet listed in one of the 3 zones that have restrictions, testing requirements

Editor’s Note: This article was updated from an earlier version that said Orleans County was in a new yellow zone that is precautionary and has restrictions to help slow the spread of Covid-19.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new micro-cluster metrics today that ranks counties in four tiers, based on their population size. Orleans County is in the fourth tier with counties less than 50,000 people. (Other Tier 4 counties include Allegany, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Essex, Greene, Hamilton, Lewis, Montgomery, Schoharie, Schuyler, Seneca, Tioga, Wyoming and Yates counties.)

Small counties in Tier 4 will be in the yellow zone if they have a 7-day rolling average positivity above 4% for 10 days and if the geographic area has 15 or more new daily cases per 100,000 residents on 7-day average.

Orleans, which has a population of about 42,883 people in the 2010 census, has 23 new cases in the past seven days. The county has reported 18 new Covid cases since Monday, with eight on Monday, four on Tuesday and six more today.

“We have what we believe is the most sophisticated Covid detection and elimination system of any state because we’ve spent time, we’ve invested and because New Yorkers are invested,” Cuomo said today. “What’s the best you can do? Detect the smallest outbreak as soon as it happens. Trace it back to where it starts, find a small outbreak or cluster, and jump on it.”

Identifying and Implementing Focus Zone 

Daily data monitoring enables the state to identify areas that are experiencing a concerning increase in Covid spread, Cuomo said.

Once an area meets certain metrics – detailed below – that demonstrate substantial spread, it may be designated a focus zone.

• Red Zone — Micro-Cluster: A “Red Zone” focus area is put in place to contain spread from a specific, defined geographic area.

• Orange Zone — Warning/Buffer: An Orange Zone area either is put in place primarily in densely populated urban areas as a tight buffer zone around a Red Zone micro-cluster (“Orange Buffer Zone”) area or is implemented independently as a focus area based on metrics.

The purpose of an Orange Buffer Zone is to 1) restrict activity to prevent further spread from Red Zone area; 2) provide a defined geographic area where metrics can be monitored daily to ensure Covid is not spreading beyond the Red Zone.

• Yellow Zone — Precautionary/Buffer: A “Yellow Zone” area either is put in place as a broader buffer area to ensure Covid outbreak is not spreading into the broader community or is implemented independently based on the metrics.

The purpose of a Yellow Buffer Zone is to 1) restrict some activity to help prevent further spread from Red and/or Orange Warning Zone area; 2) provide a larger defined geographic area where metrics can be monitored daily to ensure Covid is not spreading beyond the Red Zone or Orange Warning Zone.

The restrictions for the three cluster zones include:

Red Zone — Cluster Itself

  • Houses of Worship: 25 percent capacity, 10 people maximum
  • Mass Gatherings: Prohibited
  • Businesses: Only essential businesses open
  • Dining: Takeout only
  • Schools: Closed, remote only

Orange Zone — Warning Zone

  • Houses of Worship: 33 percent capacity, 25 people maximum
  • Mass Gatherings: 10 people maximum, indoor and outdoor
  • Businesses: Closing high-risk non-essential businesses, such as gyms and personal care
  • Dining: Outdoor dining only, 4 person maximum per table
  • Schools: Closed, remote only

Yellow Zone — Precautionary Zone

  • Houses of Worship: 50 percent capacity
  • Mass Gatherings: 25 people maximum, indoor and outdoor
  • Businesses: Open
  • Dining: Indoor and outdoor dining, 4 person maximum per table
  • Schools: Open with mandatory weekly testing of students and teachers/staff for in-person settings with percentage of students and teachers to be tested to be established by the New York State Department of Health.

A county or area can be downgraded in zone designation or have the designation ended if the positivity data, cases per capita, and daily hospital admissions over a 14 day period go down, showing there are no signs of broader spread from the focus area that prompted the zone creation.

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