Based on the latest data metrics, New York state on Wednesday adjusted its designation of COVID-19 micro-cluster focus areas where the pandemic has been the most severe, and put in place more restrictions on activities where people tend to congregate amid a national surge of COVID-19 cases.
"Based on declining and low positivity rates, Steuben County is now eligible to have its yellow precautionary zone status removed," said an official press release.
"The 7-day average positivity rate in Port Chester has been above 3 percent for 10 days, meeting the metrics for an orange warning zone declaration," it said.
"Over the past ten days, parts of Staten Island have had 7-day average positivity rates above 2.5 percent, and cases per 100,000 and new daily hospital admissions have increased, meeting the metrics for a yellow zone designation," it said.
"Over the past ten days, parts of Tioga County have had 7-day average positivity rates above 4 percent, and cases per 100,000 and new daily hospital admissions have increased, meeting the metrics for a yellow zone designation," it added.
Under the micro-cluster strategy, the state has implemented rules and restrictions directly targeted to areas with the highest concentration of COVID-19 cases known as "Red Zones," and put in place less severe restrictions in surrounding communities known as "Orange Zones" and "Yellow Zones," which serve as a buffer to ensure the virus does not spread beyond the central focus area. Enhanced focused testing and enforcement will follow.
On Wednesday, the government also announced that the COVID-19 test positivity rate in the focus areas under the micro-cluster strategy was 4.96 percent on Tuesday; the statewide positivity rate excluding these focus areas was 2.58 percent; of the 164,300 tests reported on Tuesday, 4,820 were positive, or 2.93 percent of the total.
"The scientists all said for months we would see a national and global surge in the fall and winter -- and right now, the national surge keeps getting worse," said Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday.
"The trajectory is going up, and we have learned how to stay ahead of COVID-19. When we see a small increase, we attack it -- that is our strategy as cases increase all around us," he said.
"We can manage this challenge as long as we have individual discipline and government enforcement. Local governments must enforce the public health law, period," he added.
Meanwhile, more restrictions have been imposed on activities at private residences, bars, restaurants and gyms in New York state, as the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more casualties nationwide during autumn.
"New York follows the science. We know indoor gatherings and parties are a major source of COVID-19 spread. To slow the spread, NYS will limit indoor gatherings at private residences to 10 people. This limit takes effect Friday at 10 pm," Cuomo tweeted on Wednesday.
"NYS is taking action to stop the spread in response to rising COVID-19 numbers. Any establishment with a state liquor license, including bars and restaurants, must close at 10 pm. Gyms must also close at 10 pm. These new statewide rules will take effect Friday, 10 pm," said the governor in another tweet.
"COVID is getting worse by the day. All around the country. The fall surge is here. We are taking action but we need New Yorkers to do their part. Wear a mask. Get tested. Follow all health guidelines. Take this seriously," he added.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University reported 33,716 coronavirus deaths in New York state, the worst in the country.