Despite the guidelines he implemented last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday he expects “a tremendous spike” in COVID-19 cases coming after next week’s Thanksgiving holiday.
New York is one of several states that have reduced the size of allowable indoor social gatherings, both public and private. As of last Friday, that limit in most cases is 10.
Cuomo said his hypothesis is based on human nature as well as data from Canada after its Thanksgiving holiday last month.
“Thanksgiving is a holiday and people come together,” he said. “And if you don’t have a real fear about COVID, you’re going to come together and you see people saying, ‘Nobody’s going to stop me from coming together. That’s my family. You can’t tell me don’t socialize with my family.’”
And Thanksgiving could just be the tip of the iceberg as Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve approach. “Living room spread,” as the governor called it, may lead to more orange cluster zones and more restrictions within the state.
Last week, Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard said his office would not crack down on private homes that exceed the 10-person limit for Thanksgiving, citing the tradition of the holiday.
Cuomo seemed flabbergasted by that kind of approach, saying that someone with a pick-and-choose philosophy to policing shouldn’t be in law enforcement. However, he also told reporters that he understands the challenges the order presents.
“Nobody’s saying knock on doors, count heads, right?” he said. “But you come across a gathering for one reason or another and there’s 20 people there, you say, ‘this can’t happen.’”
In a news conference that was one of Cuomo’s most tense with reporters since the pandemic briefings started in March, the governor snapped at reporters asking questions about the status of New York City schools as well as the effectiveness of the color-coded cluster strategy.
He bristled at the suggestion the cluster approach isn’t working.
“Are you defying reality? It’s how are you doing compared to everybody else,” Cuomo said. “We are fourth in the United States of America. Come to me with anything else that we’re fourth in the United States of America after having had the highest infection rate in the United States of America. New Yorkers are doing a great job, and don’t demean them.”
The state reported 5,294 new positive cases out of 154,434 tests Tuesday. There were 35 deaths due to the virus on Tuesday.
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