Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today detailed New York State’s COVID-19 micro-cluster strategy metrics. After 14 days of data monitoring, the Governor outlined modifications to some current focus zones, established new ones in areas where there are recent upticks in cases, and set criteria for areas to exit a focus zone. New York’s micro-cluster strategy detects small outbreaks and takes action to eliminate them.
“Cluster zone” focus areas are designated based on geographic case prevalence and restrictions are implemented accordingly based on the severity of spread. Buffer zones with fewer restrictions are implemented in the areas outside the most impacted areas to help prevent further spread. After 14 days, data will be reviewed to determine whether a focus area has successfully reduced viral spread to the level where restrictions can be eased.
Changes to cluster zones and new cluster zones take effect tomorrow for impacted businesses and houses of worship, and Monday for impacted schools.
“We have what we believe is the most sophisticated COVID detection and elimination system of any state because we’ve spent time, we’ve invested and because New Yorkers are invested. What’s the best you can do? Detect the smallest outbreak as soon as it happens,” Governor Cuomo said. “Trace it back to where it starts, find a small outbreak or cluster, and jump on it. Quick action to contain it and eliminate it. That is the best you can do in this situation. You see an ember land in dry grass, ring the alarm, everybody run, stamp out the ember. The embers are what we call micro-clusters, and we can identify them from the testing data, from the hospitalization data, and mapping software.”
Identifying and Implementing Focus Zone
Daily data monitoring enables the State to identify areas that are experiencing a concerning increase in COVID spread. Once an area meets certain metrics – detailed below – that demonstrate substantial COVID spread, it may be designated a focus zone: a Red “Micro-Cluster Zone” (with accompanying Orange and/or Yellow buffer zones) or an Orange Warning Zone (with potential for accompanying Yellow Buffer Zone) or solely a Yellow Precautionary Zone. In densely populated urban areas, two buffer zones – an Orange Buffer Zone and a Yellow Buffer Zone may be required.