State issues ban on public gatherings within 1-mile radius of New Rochelle neighborhood

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The state has issued a ban on public gatherings within a one-mile radius of the neighborhood of Wykagyl in New Rochelle due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The containment area is within a one-mile radius from the Young Israel of New Rochelle synagogue, where the Westchester outbreak began. The ban means that there can be no large gatherings within that area for the next two weeks starting Thursday.

The National Guard is expected to arrive armed with sanitizer and food for families on Thursday. However, it is not confirmed where, when and how the supplies will be distributed.

“In terms of where the staging area will be, what their initial assignments will be, what the exact timing of the arrival is…we haven’t been briefed yet,” said New Rochelle Mayor Noah Bramson. “It could be that those things are still in influx.”

The neighborhood in the zone consists mostly of homes, but also includes houses of worship and a number of public and private schools including the William B. Ward Elementary School, Albert Leonard Middle School and New Rochelle High School, which will be closed from March 12 to March 25.

The Ursuline School, an all-girls private Catholic middle and high school, is also closed. New Rochelle schools outside the containment area are still open.

Tuckahoe High School and Middle School, along with the William E. Cottle School, are also closed since they are included in the containment area.

Bramson says the actions taken by the state are no reason to panic.

"This is not an exclusion or quarantine zone. No one is prohibited from entering or leaving the area. This does not affect individual homeowners or families or businesses. It is purely a prohibition on large gatherings," he said.

The 5,508 New Rochelle students impacted by the closures will learn from home.

New Rochelle School Superintendent Dr. Laura Feijoo said students can request a Chromebook via email if needed, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo is sending the National Guard to assist cleaning public areas and deliver meals to over 2,800 students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals in school starting Thursday.

"They are not here to provide a military function, they're not here to provide a policing function. New Rochelle is not on martial law. There is no exclusion zone, there's no quarantine zone, no one is prohibited from moving around New Rochelle," said Bramson.

On Wednesday, there were already fewer cars on the road as well as people on the sidewalks.

"It's like a ghost town. It looks like it's a major holiday or something when you don't see anybody on the road. It's very eerie,” says Chris Gizzo, of New Rochelle.

It will last until March 25 and though people can still come and go from the zone, some residents feel ostracized as services such as doctors’ appointments and deliveries are being canceled on them.

"Mr. Mayor, Mr. Cuomo, superintendent, you owe the people of the City of New Rochelle an out-front face to face, truthful meeting and to let us know what's going on, even if it’s out here on the steps of City Hall,” said New Rochelle resident Kwamain Dixon.

MORE: New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson

MORE: A list of area schools, universities and events closed amid COVID-10 outbreak

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MORE: A list of area schools, universities and events closed amid COVID-19 outbreak

MORE: New Rochelle School District holds news conference on school closures

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