I just sent the following city-wide robocall:
This is Mayor Noam Bramson with a very important community update.
To mitigate the spread of coronavirus in our community and elsehwere, State public health authorities have established a one-mile containment area from the epicenter of the outbreak within which large gatherings will be prohibited. This affects several public and private schools, houses of worship, and potentially other large institutions in the Wykagyl area of New Rochelle’s North End. To emphasize, this is purely a limitation on large gatherings; it is not a quarantine or exclusion zone, and it does not apply to individual residents and families or to individual businesses. We are still collaborating with State authorities to create a complete list of affected facilities and to provide appropriate guidance to them.
The City is assisting in the distribution of hand sanitizer from New York State to large institutions throughout New Rochelle, especially those serving seniors. At present, however, hand sanitizer is not available for the general public.
We are informed that the National Guard will be assisting with logistical and operational challenges in our community, including cleaning and the distribution of meals to students who rely on school lunches and breakfasts at schools that are closed. The Guard will not be engaged in military or Policing functions. The City stands ready to coordinate with and support the Guard’s efforts in any constructive fashion, and has activated our emergency operations center in order to be fully prepared for any requests.
As a reminder: public health experts have been clear that the great majority of those who contract coronavirus will recover without difficulty, and that we can protect ourselves and our families by following common sense public health guidelines. If you experience symptoms, please consult your doctor or health care provider.
New Rochelle is a strong and resilient community. Although this is a major challenge, we will meet it calmly, with seriousness of purpose, and with support for and from all of our neighbors.
Thank you for listening. Additional information will follow as warranted.
The heaviest burden of the coronavirus outbreak in our community has fallen upon Young Israel of New Rochelle, many of whose members are quarantined, and all of whom are deeply concerned about the health of neighbors and friends. This article in USA Today does an excellent job of describing the strength and resilience of the congregation. Every resident of New Rochelle can be proud of and grateful for the calm, responsible, and public-spirited manner in which YINR has confronted this difficult challenge.
A good interview about confronting coronavirus in New Rochelle. This extended, uncut and unedited format provides a opportunity to explore the challenges in greater depth.
This afternoon, County Executive George Latimer and I had lunch together at Eden Wok, a kosher Asian restaurant in the Wykagyl section of New Rochelle. Our intent was not just to have a tasty meal — although it was delicious — our intent was to demonstrate confidence in a neighborhood and business district that have suffered in recent days because of concerns about coronavirus. You can view our comments here.
Setting aside, of course, residents who are quarantined and have no option, many others in the region may simply be choosing to avoid restaurants and businesses that are perceived to be in some sort of “danger zone.” Perhaps this is understandable, but the virus does not linger around a whole neighbor like a cloud; it is shared through close contact between individuals. And complete withdrawal from the commerce and life of our larger community creates its own problems.
Everyone’s risk tolerance is different, and each of us is entitled to make our own judgments. But at a certain point, risk avoidance becomes debilitating and disproportionate to the real threat. Sure, you can avoid any chance of a car accident by never driving, yet few of us would make that trade.
For George Latimer and myself, this was an easy call — an excellent meal, a demonstration of support for our neighbors, and every confidence of good health to follow. If you have a similar outlook, please make a point of continuing to patronize local businesses. This is a time to come together and do our part for each other.
With the guidance of public health officials and with the goal of focusing our full attention on the present coronavirus challenges in New Rochelle, we have decided to postpone the annual State of the City Address, which had been scheduled for tomorrow evening. I look forward to setting a new date soon and to sharing my thoughts about opportunities for further progress in our city.
Earlier today, we received news that a New Rochelle resident had tested positive for Coronavirus, for which he is receiving treatment in New York City. I join our entire community in extending thoughts and prayers to our neighbor and his family.
Together with other City officials, I have been and will remain in constant communication with County and State leaders, who have primary responsibility for public health matters, and we will assist and support their efforts in any appropriate and constructive fashion.
This will be a very significant challenge for our community. Already hundreds of residents, chiefly members of the congregation of Young Israel of New Rochelle, have been quarantined as a precautionary measure to limit the spread of the virus. At a minimum, this will be a deeply distressing and disruptive experience for the families affected. Investigation of potential avenues of exposure is ongoing and additional directives may follow as needed.
The general population of our city and region, however, is advised to simply continue observing the same public health protocols that have been in place for weeks and which are detailed here. In addition, the County has issued a fact sheet on this most recent incident here. Finally, here is footage of a press conference held earlier today by County Executive Latimer, County Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, and myself.
This is a fast-moving story, with facts evolving on an hour-to-hour basis. It is highly likely that additional cases of Coronavirus will emerge. And it is vital for our community and others to maintain an appropriate level of focus and concern in order to safeguard public health.
At the same time, we must steer clear of unwarranted panic, recognizing that the vast majority of those who contract Coronavirus will experience no symptoms at all, and only a small fraction will face life-threatening circumstances. We can best protect ourselves and our families by carefully following the guidance of public health professionals and by continuing to support each as neighbors and friends.
The State, County and City will continue coordinating as this challenge unfolds and will share information in as timely and accurate a fashion as possible.
The annual State of the City Address is this Thursday, March 5th at New Rochelle City Hall. The speech begins at 7:30pm and is preceded by a reception with light refreshments starting at 6:00pm. Everything is free and open to the public, with seating on a first-come, first-served basis.
Please join me for a discussion of our community’s opportunities and challenges.
Here’s the Trump Administration’s proposed federal budget for 2021, as analyzed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. In summary: major cuts to health, education, environmental, housing, and energy programs, including many that are of vital importance to residents of New Rochelle like the Community Development Block Grant, in order to pay for the President’s ridiculous border wall and for increases in defense.
It’s like some sort of cruel academic exercise: figure out the right priorities for America and then see if you can write a budget that accomplishes exactly the opposite.
President Trump’s hostility to democratic norms, morally bankrupt character, and infantile social media tantrums get most of the attention, but it’s worth remembering at all times that his actual policies are awful and destructive, too.
If you agree with me that a budget like this would be catastrophic for our country, then let’s do everything possible to ensure that the next federal budget is shaped by a different President.
A pair of features highlight the outstanding arts education at New Rochelle High School, exemplified by the Museum of Arts & Culture, the only school-based, Regents-chartered museum in all of New York State. Read this interview with visiting artist Susan Luss, as well as this related blogpost. I am proud that our public schools make cultural enrichment so accessible to students.