Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the Orthodox Jewish community needs to do a better job of making sure everyone understands how contagious COVID-19 is.

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On Thursday, Gov. Cuomo said New York State continues to track clusters with a particular focus on the top 20 zip codes which have seen a spike of COVID-19.

Within the 20 hotspot ZIP codes, the average rate of positive tests is 6.5 percent. The rate of positive tests for the remainder of New York State, not counting the top 20 ZIP codes, is 0.98 percent, officials say.

"These twenty hotspot zip codes require attention and action, because they are not hermetically sealed and a cluster today can become community spread tomorrow. It's no longer about public education, it's about enforcement -- I don't think there has been a public health topic that has been more exhaustively communicated in my lifetime than wearing a mask," Cuomo said. "We are in this situation partially because the local governments have not been conducting enforcement. Enforcement works. If you speed in your car, you get a ticket. If someone is not wearing a mask, they deserve a fine. If local governments do not want to be responsible for enforcement, assign personnel to the state and I will do it."

Three Hudson Valley zip codes have the highest positive rate over the past week. The positivity rate for the past week in the Monroe, Spring Valley and Monsey regions is over 15 percent, according to the governor's office.

COVID-19 Positive % on 7 Day Average

  • Zip Code 10950: 18% (Orange County)
  • Zip Code 10952: 16% (Rockland County)
  • Zip Code 10977: 14% (Rockland County)

Cuomo says he has met with leaders of the Orthodox Jewish community in Orange and Rockland counties to talk about a huge spike in coronavirus cases. The governor says the Orthodox community has to do a better job of making sure everyone understands how contagious COVID-19 is.

"If you look at those clusters and you look at those zip codes, you will see there's an overlap with large Orthodox Jewish communities. That is a fact. This is a public health concern for their community. It's also a public health concern for surrounding communities. I've said from day one, these public health rules apply to every religion, atheists - it just applies to every citizen of the State of New York, period," Cuomo said. "We have seen hotspots before, but this is probably the largest cluster that we have addressed before, and the clusters are Brooklyn, Orange, Rockland. The activity in the cluster is very different than what's going on in the rest of the state. These are embers that are starting to catch fire in dry grass. Send all the firefighting equipment and personnel to those embers and stamp out the embers right away. That's what this data does. Local governments are the first line of defense and they must respond. Competent government must do compliance and enforcement. A cluster today can be community spread tomorrow."

In mid-September, Satmar Headquarters posted photos on Twitter that claim "thousands" attended a "peaceful pray demonstration" at a synagogue in Kiryas Joel, according to the tweet.

The photos, which you can see below, appear to show hundreds, or thousands as the post claims, gathered without masks or following New York State's social distancing rules.

A cease and desist order was sent to Satmar Shul in Kiryas Joel.

Earlier this week, Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus says the increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations and confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Orange County is directly related orthodox community in Palm Tree.

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