Cuomo outlines micro-cluster strategy to tackle COVID-19 hotspots  10/18/2020 14:03:33   Tracey Porpora |

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Governor Andrew M. Cuomo outlined a new micro-cluster strategy on Saturday to tackle coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hot spots that may come with the fall and winter weather.

The micro-cluster strategy is predicated on three principles: refined detection, specific and calibrated mitigation, and focused enforcement, Cuomo said.

Using New York states approach to track cases by address with the help of nation-leading levels of testing, the state will identify outbreaks, he said. The state will then implement mitigation measures tailored to the precise areas where outbreaks occur.

One of the lessons we learned in New York is to look ahead and stay ahead. Its not checkers; were playing chess with this virus. In the fall youre going to see an increased viral transmission rate  thats just a fact, Cuomo said. Until now, we have been targeting all our actions either on a statewide level or a regional level. That worked fine and frankly was our only option because we didnt have any more sophistication than that.

In addition, state rules and restrictions will directly target areas with the highest concentration of COVID-19 cases, known as red zones."In addition, the new strategy will identify less severe restrictions in surrounding communities, known as orange and yellow zones that serve as a buffer to ensure the virus does not spread beyond the central focus area. Enhanced focused testing and enforcement will follow, according to Cuomos office.

This strategy is based on the Governors Cluster Action Initiative, which he announced on Oct. 6, to address COVID-19 hot spots that have cropped up in Brooklyn, Queens, and Broome, Orange and Rockland Counties.

That plan was developed in consultation with national public health experts, including Dr. Noam Ross of EcoHealth Alliance, Dr. Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota and former CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden.

We now have more sophistication because weve been at it for seven months. So rather than looking at COVID-19 data on the state level, regional level, county level or even neighborhood level, we are now going to analyze it on the block by block level," said Cuomo.

"The micro-cluster strategy is not just to calibrate the state or the region, but to calibrate just those specific geographic areas. Target it and target your strategy down to that level of activity. It requires more testing, more targeted testing, and then you have to be responsive to the situations in that specific locality with mitigation measures. It has the advantage of causing less disruption, he added.



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