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Governor And De Blasio Split On Approach To Curbing Coronavirus Spread

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

One day after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced shutdowns in coronavirus hotspots, the governor of New York Andrew Cuomo has contradicted him. NPR's Quil Lawrence reports that the mixed messages are leaving some New Yorkers confused about what happens next.

QUIL LAWRENCE, BYLINE: New York City has reopened schools and businesses and even some indoor dining, but nine zip codes in Brooklyn and Queens report alarming numbers. They include several Orthodox Jewish enclaves where mask-wearing and social distancing have been inconsistent. Mayor Bill de Blasio said he tried outreach and fines, but now it's time for a shutdown in those neighborhoods.

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BILL DE BLASIO: And after all the progress we've made, it's tough to have to think about any rewind, any pause even if it's in part of our city. But we have to do this now. We have to recognize what the data and the science are telling us, and it's time to move forward and fight back.

LAWRENCE: To fight back against the virus, De Blasio planned to close all non-essential businesses. He acknowledged he needed sign-off from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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ANDREW CUOMO: I just got off the telephone with Mayor de Blasio. We had a very good conversation. It was a collaborative, positive conversation.

LAWRENCE: Which is not the way most people describe the two men's relationship despite sharing the same party and similar politics. More than 30,000 deaths in New York state from COVID-19 have apparently not brought the men closer, so few New Yorkers were surprised when Cuomo rejected de Blasio's plan, apparently without telling him over the weekend. Cuomo said no to closing businesses. He said the focus should be on shutting schools and large gatherings in those nine zip codes, including religious services.

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CUOMO: Whether it's the Jewish community, whether we're talking about Black churches, whether we're talking about Roman Catholic churches, the religious community has to agree to the rules, and they have to agree that they are going to be a full partner in the enforcement of the rules.

LAWRENCE: Cuomo said the state would take over enforcement there with the aim of stamping out the flare-ups and keeping the rest of the city running. Quil Lawrence, NPR News, New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEON NOX'S "TWISTED GETAWAY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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