Mixed reviews in Westchester County for the government’s handling of the Covid-19 outbreak.
When my wife and I quit Brooklyn 15 years ago to start a family in the suburbs, we were seeking a kind of refuge. The 9/11 attacks were still a recent memory. We wanted more living space and foliage, along with more safety. Apparently, so did a lot of other people. Our destination was sprawling Westchester County, just north of the Bronx, and it was full of New York City transplants. We bought our first house from one.
But the past two weeks have been a reminder that refuge can be illusory. In the early days of the coronavirus crisis, Westchester was the epicenter of the outbreak in New York. One of the state’s first confirmed cases, announced on March 3, was a 50-year-old lawyer who lives in the city of New Rochelle. A week later, the number of cases there had grown to more than 100, which prompted Gov. Andrew Cuomo to announce the creation of a “containment area” within a 1-mile radius of the man’s synagogue. The governor also called in the National Guard to assist in sanitizing efforts. The goal was to slow spread of the virus and calm fears, but it also stoked confusion.
Our friend Anna, a wife and mother of two young boys who doesn’t attend the synagogue but lives blocks away from it, told me that the self-quarantining already happening was sufficient and that she feels Mr. Cuomo overreacted. “There was panic. People were scared,” she recalled. “The governor said we’re starting a containment zone and sending in the National Guard.” She received dozens of text messages from people asking what was going on. Her mother, who lives nearby, was worried about leaving the house. Anna didn’t know if her husband, who was at work in Manhattan, would be permitted to come home that evening.
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