This week Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that parts of Rochester and Syracuse would enter Orange Zone designation. It’s part of New York State’s Coronavirus micro-cluster mitigation strategy. It means focusing economic restrictions — like pausing non-essential business activity — to specific zip codes. For example, reducing the number of people who can be seated at a restaurant table in a yellow zone, or pausing dine-in service altogether in orange zones. There are specific parameters for Yellow, Orange, and Red micro-cluster zones, which is effectively a balance between the economic consequences of shutting down non-essential businesses, and trying to preserve public health — all in the midst of a global pandemic. But here’s a question: Has it worked?
Bill Hammond, Senior Fellow For Health Policy at the Empire Center, recently took a dive into the data. What he uncovered didn’t surprise him, but for casual observers of the state’s ongoing response to the Coronavirus Pandemic — the recent surge of cases suggests the micro-cluster mitigation strategy isn’t working as intended. The positivity rate inside the zones across New York State has declined, but the overall numbers in New York State are spiking. Hammond wrote, “In the six weeks since the cluster strategy was launched, New York’s rate of new infections has increased by 244 percent, to almost 5,000 per day. The number of people hospitalized has nearly doubled, to more than 2,000. And the seven-day average death rate has increased by 125 percent, to 30 per day.”
Today on The Daily Debrief a conversation with Hammond about his reporting, and what the numbers tell us as more communities across New York State are painted shades of yellow, orange, and red.