Just three days after declaring that New York’s micro-cluster approach — which minimizes the economic pain of broader lockdowns by instead restricting economic activity and gatherings in the immediate vicinity of virus outbreaks — “works” and is “inarguable,” Gov. Cuomo Wednesday imposed a statewide 10 p.m. curfew on bars, restaurants and gyms, and new rules limiting indoor private gatherings to 10 people or less.
The rules deal a fresh setback to already gut-punched restaurants, bars and gyms, but they’re probably the best worst option. The move brings New York, where the virus is spreading and hospitalizations and deaths are rising, in line with Connecticut and New Jersey, both of which imposed 10 p.m. curfews on restaurants as their own infection rates rose toward 7% and 5%, respectively.
What’s unfortunate is that relatively blunt tools may still be the only real option Cuomo has to slow the spread.
There should have been more choices. Both the state and city of New York implemented contact-tracing programs designed to yield precise information on virus transmission, so that mitigation could be more surgical and less economically damaging. But contact tracing here only works if people participate voluntarily. NYC data show tracers made contact with 90% of new cases, but only 75% answered tracers’ questions.
New York health officials conceded this week that for most new cases, “we don’t have a way to directly attribute their source of infection.”
Meantime, Cuomo, who repeatedly says that rules mean nothing without enforcement, seems to think that municipal police departments and perhaps sheriff’s offices across the state are the only agencies equipped to do that. How about NYC’s Department of Consumer Affairs? The departments of health? Others?
Whoever’s on the case can’t be everywhere at once, particularly not inside people’s homes. If the tide is to turn, it’ll ultimately depend on collective compliance.
Keep your head up, New York, and mask on. We can do this.
— New York Daily News (TNS)