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U.S. quarantines Jewish community in suburban New York over COVID-19

U.S. quarantines Jewish community in suburban New York over COVID-19

Posted March. 12, 2020 07:44,   

Updated March. 12, 2020 07:44


The New York City suburb of New Rochelle has been struck by COVID-19 and designated as a “containment area.” As National Guardsmen have been deployed to the city to stop the spread of the virus, people’s concerns are growing.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday (local time) that he is implementing a containment area around the city of New Rochelle from Thursday to March 25. “It’s literally a matter of life or death. A special public health strategy will be required for the city,” he added. According to the new measure, all schools and religious facilities within a one-mile radius from Jewish temple Young Israel of New Rochelle, which has produced multiple patients, will be shut down. National Guardsmen will be sent to deliver food to children of low-income families and disinfect the city.

Orders to restrict the movement of over 80,000 residents and block streets have not been made. However, as National Guardsmen in their military uniform show up on the streets, it will raise tension among residents. “National Guardsmen are coming to the city to help us, not to carry out military or police work,” said New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson asking for his residents’ understanding during a press conference on Tuesday. New Rochelle was constructed in the 17th century by Protestants who immigrated from La Rochelle in France to avoid religious persecution. Currently, about 17 percent of the population is Jewish.

New Rochelle is about 27 kilometers away from Grand Central Terminal, a transportation hub in Manhattan, and has a number of residents commuting to Manhattan. This leads to a growing concern that such residents traveling to and from Manhattan on the train will spread COVID-19 across entire New York. “I worry about commuting to Manhattan by train. I am considering working from home,” said a resident in Westchester County.

COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across the U.S. Its number of confirmed cases increased 277 in one day to 1,009 with five more deaths making the total death toll 31. Experts believe that community spread has begun to take place. “I hope the entire nation to realize that we can’t do the things that we used to do until a month ago,” said Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases under the National Institutes of Health.

Yong Park parky@donga.com