NEW YORK - Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he met with members of the Orthodox Jewish community Wednesday morning to discuss an uptick in coronvarius cases in areas of the state with high Orthodox Jewish populations.
The clusters are centered in parts of Brooklyn and Queens, as well Rockland and Orange counties. According to Cuomo, the average positivity rate in those areas is five times the state rate, and that the 20 zip codes with the biggest increases account for 23% of new statewide cases despite having just 6 percent of the state's population.
"Some suggest herd immunity, and we talked through that. Some members of the community, like some members of the general public, believe President Trump: don't wear a mask. And they watch his rallies, some people believe that," Cuomo cited as the reasons for why the virus is spreading in those communities. "No one raised a religious belief against masks or any of the compliance."
Without saying Mayor de Blasio's name, Cuomo also blasted local governments for not fining people who refuse to wear a mask.
"Issue a ticket. Close a mass gathering. How many pictures have you seen of religious ceremonies with hundreds of people? Are you telling me that the local officials didn't see them, or they turned a blind eye? Let's be honest, they turned a blind eye. Well, open your eyes and do the compliance."
Cuomo warned that if coronavirus infection numbers keep going up, he might take more drastic action, just as schools and indoor dining have reopened for the first time in more than six months.
"This is the constant back and forth I have with them," Cuomo said, referring to his conversations with local government officials. "'We don't want to do mask compliance because people are unhappy when we give them a ticket. Oh yeah, people are more unhappy when we have to close their businesses, and when we have to close their schools. And people are most unhappy when their loved one dies."
De Blasio has warned people in communities that are seeing an uptick that they will be fined for refusing to wear a mask, and that non-essential businesses and private schools could be shut down if the numbers don't decline.