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New York State announces 'micro-cluster strategy' to tackle COVID-19 hotspots

The governor says New York State will now be tracing COVID-19 clusters down to specific areas across the state, as precise as "block by block."
Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo
October 17, 2020--New York City--Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that movie theaters outside of New York City can reopen at 25 percent capacity under state guidance starting October 23. No more than 50 people are allowed in front of each screen in each movie theater at once. Theaters can only open outside of New York City in counties that have COVID-19 positivity rates of less than 2 percent on a 14-day average and do not have any cluster zones. Theaters will be subject to rigorous state guidance and enforcement.(Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a new change to the state's recently announced Cluster Action Initiative on Saturday.

The governor says New York State will now be tracing COVID-19 clusters down to specific areas across the state, as precise as "block by block." The state calls this "micro-cluster targeting."

The new change, the governor says, will require more testing, as well as a more targeted and responsive approach. However, it will allow less disruption to businesses, as the data can be used to determine more specific cluster zones. Then, responses under the Cluster Action Initiative can be applied to that specific area, rather than a broader area.

"We now have more sophistication because we've been at it for seven months," Cuomo said. "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.

"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."

Cuomo added that he plans to continue this approach until a vaccine is available. 

The governor also announced Saturday that New York State hit a new record-high on Friday: Cuomo says that 159,972 COVID-19 tests were conducted statewide.

On Friday, the percent positive rate of COVID-19 tests was 1.11 percent, including the state's red-zone areas. The state calculates that 1.02 percent of the tests came back positive without including the red-zones. 

Meanwhile, the rate of positive tests in Western New York was the same as Thursday at 1.4 percent.

Hospitalizations have increased statewide by 11 to 929. There were 139 patients newly admitted and 118 discharged on Friday. There are currently 195 people in ICUs statewide, and of those patients, 103 are intubated.

Nine people died in New York State on Friday due to the virus, including an individual from Cattaraugus, and one person who was not a resident of New York State. Thus far, 25,637 people have died in New York due to the virus.

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