NY state to withhold funding if NYC, other localities refuse to enforce 'hotspot' rules: Cuomo

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- New York state will withhold funding from local governments that fail to enforce closures and social distancing in “red zone” hotspots, as well as from schools in those hotspots that refuse to shutter, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

Officials in New York City, Orange County, Rockland County, the Town of Ramapo and the Village of Spring Valley will receive notices from the state warning that they must enforce public health laws or face funding cuts, Cuomo said in a teleconference Wednesday morning.

The governor's office will also send letters to schools in red zones saying they, too, will not receive funding if they remain open, he said.

Red zone schools that have already been violating the state’s closure orders will receive notices on Wednesday “mandating they close" and informing them that the state is withholding their funding until they do so, he added.

“This is no longer a question of public education. It is enforcement,” he said. The micro-clusters the state is focusing on are in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, Cuomo noted.

“I have made it very clear to members of this community what the law is, what the rule is,” he said. “I guarantee that if a yeshiva gets closed down, and they’re not going to get state funding, you will see compliance.”

The COVID-19 infection rate in New York state’s red zone hotspots on Tuesday was 6.2 percent, far exceeding the statewide infection rate excluding the red zones, which was 0.95 percent, the governor said.

Including the red zones, the state reported a 1.10 percent infection rate on Tuesday, as 1,232 of the 111,744 COVID-19 test results that came back were positive, he said.

As of Tuesday, 938 people in the state were hospitalized with COVID-19, up by 15 from Monday.

Cuomo also reported seven new COVID-19 deaths, without immediately providing a breakdown of the fatalities by county.

During his briefing, the governor speculated that New York state could be dealing with micro-clusters for “at least one year,” as some residents will refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19 when a vaccine is available.

“By the way, this could go on for years,” he added. “Unless you assume 100 percent of the population is going to be vaccinated.”