New York Governor Cuomo: “I’m going to say to the orthodox community tomorrow if you don’t agree then we will have to close down your religious institutions.”
Today, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that schools in certain “cluster zones” would be forced to close. But non-essential businesses in those “cluster zones” can remain open. Why? The Governor considered schools as bigger spreaders of COVID. Here, the Governor trumped the decision of New York City Mayor Bill DeBlaiso, which I wrote about last week (here and here).
The Jerusalem Post, a left-leaning Israeli newspaper, offered this description:
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that large gatherings of ultra-Orthodox Jews have been responsible for the outbreak of several COVID-19 “clusters” in the state, and threatened to close down religious institutions if they did not comply with regulations.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Cuomo used images of mass gatherings by ultra-Orthodox communities in the state to illustrate his claim about the risks of the spread of the coronavirus from such events.
He said that he would be meeting with religious leaders in Orange County, the location of the large Satmar community in the town of Kiryas Yoel; in Rockland County, which has large Satmar and Viznitz hassidic communities; and Nassau County.
“Orthodox Jewish gatherings are often very large and we’ve seen what one person can do,” Cuomo said in reference to several super spreader incidents involving an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man.
“We know religious institutions have been a problem… Mass gatherings are the super spreader events. We know there have been mass gatherings going on in concert with religious institutions in these communities for weeks.
“I don’t mean little violations… I’m talking about when they’re only supposed to have 50 people outdoors and they had 1,000… You don’t see masks and you see clear violation of social-distancing.”
Cuomo said that if religious institutions in New York are to stay open they must agree to the conditions laid down by the state “whether it is the Jewish community, Black churches, or Roman Catholic churches,” and said that tough enforcement was also needed.
The contents of this press conference will likely be cited in the near future. In this post, I will offer highlights of his remarks, based on YouTube’s transcription feature.
Where does the virus mainly transmit. Dr. Zucker was on the phone, we asked him that question. Schools, which are also the place where different communities come together….Schools can be locations of transmissions. Religious gatherings, especially in these communities. New Rochelle, first hot spot, was an Orthodox Jewish man, who went to a temple. Hundreds of people. And then a wedding hundreds of people. Orthodox jewish gatherings often are very, very, large, and we’ve seen what one person can do in a group.
At that point, Cuomo started to talk about President Barrett’s nomination in the Rose Garden.
We’re going to close the schools in those areas tomorrow and that’s that.
Cuomo moved on from closing schools, to the next category, “religious gatherings.”
Religious gatherings. The city’s proposal does not close religious institutions. We know religious institutions have been a problem. We know mass gatherings are the super spreader events. We know there have been mass gatherings going on in concert with religious institutions in these communities for weeks. For weeks. I don’t mean little violations. You’re only supposed to have 50, they had 55. I’m talking about, you’re only supposed to have 50 outdoors, they had one thousand. These are pictures from the past couple weeks. And these are just emblematic. You’ve seen pictures like this for weeks. What did you think was going to happen? What did you think was going to happen? Religious institutions are mass gatherings and raise the greatest potential. Its schools and its large mass gatherings. Schools frankly, because they’re students and that’s where our heart goes, our priority goes. But in terms of numbers, it’s large gatherings and large religious gatherings are large gatherings, these have been going on for weeks. You don’t see masks and you see clear violation of social distancing.
As the Governor said “super spreader” events, an image of observant Jews wearing black hats appeared on his powerpoint presentation. And he said the photos were “from the past couple weeks.”But the photos use used were not recent. Not even close. One of the photos was from the 2006 funeral of Hassidic rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum. And the photo wasn’t even from New York City. It was taken in the Orange County village of Kiryas Joel.
Today @NYGovCuomo shows a picture of Orthodox Jews at a mass gathering. “What did you think was going to happen? He says, “These have been going on for weeks” Well, Gov this Picture is from the 2006 Funeral of the previous Satmar Grand Rebbe, 14 years ago! #Fakenews & Fake facts! pic.twitter.com/YEiq5WVeqo
— Satmar Headquarters (@HQSatmar) October 5, 2020
Apparently the picture @NYGovCuomo put up in his presentation today of a “recent” large gathering in Satmar Kiryas Joel is from 2006 — the funeral of Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum in Kiryas Joel! pic.twitter.com/CxGtHhyZUj
— Jacob Kornbluh (@jacobkornbluh) October 5, 2020
The Governor’s staff simply found a clip art of Jews congregating. They all look the same, anyway.
Later, Cuomo realized the error.
Cuomo: When were these pictures from?
Voice off Camera: The one of the on the right is more recent.
Cuomo: Okay. But they are in the recent past. So this has been going on for weeks. We’ve been talking about it for weeks.
The Governor’s spokesperson blamed a “staff error.”
This was a staff error that was caught in real time at the presser. It was swapped out with this photo that was taken two weeks ago at the same location. The new slide was up during the last 10 minutes of the press conference. https://t.