Rockland County

Rockland County Exec Blasts Cuomo Over COVID-19 Containment Zone Request

In a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo dated April 2, Rockland County Executive Ed Day asked New York State to establish a containment zone within the Town of Ramapo

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What to Know

  • In a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo dated April 2, Rockland County Executive Ed Day asked New York State to establish a containment zone within the Town of Ramapo
  • At a press conference on Saturday, Cuomo said he wasn't aware of Rockland County's request
  • Day blasted Cuomo's response in a statement after the press conference, saying it "strain[ed] credibility, and that is putting it mildly"

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday said he wasn’t aware of Rockland County’s request for a coronavirus “containment zone” — a remark County Executive Ed Day said left him “dumbfounded.” 

In a letter to Cuomo dated April 2, Day asked New York State to establish a containment zone within the Town of Ramapo, which has become a hot spot in a county that has seen more than 4,800 positive COVID-19 cases. 

At a news conference Saturday morning, however, Cuomo maintained he hadn’t received the request. 

“Rockland County officials have been asking why there has not been a containment zone set up in and around some of the communities in Monsey, New York. Can you explain the rationale to not contain those communities, if they are hot spots?” a reporter asked Cuomo. 

“Nobody’s asked me,” the governor responded. 

Cuomo spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa said that she and Cuomo’s team would “certainly reach out to the people in Rockland County after this and find out what more they want us to do.” 

“... [W]hen you talk about the containment zone, like what we did in Westchester, that was about ending gatherings, that was about shutting down houses of worship and places where a lot of people were packed into one place, and closing schools. We’ve now done that statewide,” DeRosa said. “Of course, if there’s more measures, we’re all ears at all time.”

The previous containment zone over New Rochelle, issued by the governor, was for a period of two weeks and ended the week of March 26. New Rochelle Mayor Noah Bramson said, when reached by phone on Friday, it was during that time that Gov. Cuomo implemented additional statewide measures effectively mirroring the containment zone practice.

“Our local containment zone became effectively meaningless a week earlier when New York state imposed statewide restrictions that were more stringent than our local regulations," said Bramson.

The principle difference remaining between New Rochelle and the rest of New York was the National Guard whose presence, the mayor said, was to assist the town's operational challenges.

"The [National] Guard was not here to enforcement the terms of the containment zone but rather to assist with logistical and operational challenges like the delivery of food and the cleaning of buildings," Bramson said.  

In a statement issued shortly after the news conference, Day said he felt their responses “strain[ed] credibility, and that is putting it mildly.” 

“To our Governor, if you are telling the truth then you need to have a serious conversation with office communications personnel AND your THREE staff members who [received the April 2 letter],” Day wrote. “While lives are in the balance, nobody knows anything? This is what we in Rockland are expected to believe?”

“Well, I guess you do ‘know’ now, and I await a call on my cell,” he added. “The people of Rockland are beyond fed up.” 

Senior Advisor to the Governor Rich Azzopardi called Day's response "nonsensical" because a containment zone would "be LESS restrictive than what all New Yorkers are currently living under."

"The current order empower localities and local law enforcement to enforce social distancing standards and business closures, and they should do that. We're happy to discuss enhanced outreach and education efforts with all stakeholders, but his is no time for petty, meaningless political attacks," Azzopardi said in a statement provided to NBC New York.

Day’s April 2 letter asked the state to set up a containment zone with Route 45 as an eastern boundary, Grandview Road as a northern boundary, College/Forshay Road as a western boundary and the New York State Thruway as a southern boundary. 

"As you well know, strict compliance with social distancing measures will reduce the number of people who get sick, reduce the number of people who die and prevent our hospital system from being overwhelmed," Day wrote. "Unfortunately, despite repeated pleas from elected officials, health experts and community and religious leaders, we are not seeing the levels of compliance needed to flatten the curve to a manageable level locally."

Day went on to ask Cuomo to "update your executive orders to specifically allow law enforcement here in Rockland and across New York State [to] take action to enforce the common-sense rules that you have put into place." Rockland County had seen 69 COVID-19-related deaths as of Friday.

“Governor, you have taken unprecedented action in the face of this outbreak,” Day wrote. “And I am asking that you do so again to protect Rockland County.” 

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