New York sees coronavirus clusters pop up in Orthodox Jewish communities, Gov. Cuomo says

Governor Andrew Cuomo makes an announcement and holds media briefing on COVID-19 response at New Settlement Community Center, Bronx.

Lev Radin | Pacific Press | LightRocket via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned Tuesday of growing coronavirus clusters in large Orthodox Jewish communities around New York City that he worries could spread uncontrollably if they aren’t quickly contained. 

State health officials are investigating 20 of the state’s zip codes where Covid-19 hotspots appear to be growing. The percentage of total tests returning positive, or “positivity rate,” in some of those zip codes have reached above 10%, far beyond the roughly 1% infection rate New York has reported for weeks. 

“The activity in the cluster is very different than what’s going on in the rest of the state,” Cuomo said during a press briefing. The state’s Covid-19 positivity rate is 1.1% while the average for the top 20 zip codes is more than 5%, he said, adding that at least one county has a positivity rate of about 20%. The clusters are coming from Brooklyn as well as Orange and Rockland counties, he said. “These hotspots are five times that number,” he said of the positivity rate. 

“A cluster today can be community spread tomorrow,” he said. 

The increase in cases is a troubling sign for the state as it prepares to reopen restaurants for indoor dining and schools for in-person learning in its most populous city. Earlier on Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the city reported a local positivity rate over 3% — the highest that figure has been in months. 

This is a developing story. Please check back later for updates.