Large parts of Yonkers get COVID-19 yellow zone designation as cases mount; see where

Tiffany Cusaac-Smith
Rockland/Westchester Journal News

Large swaths of Yonkers have gotten a COVID-19 yellow zone designation Thursday as the city sees an uptick in cases over the past several weeks. 

A bit of the heavily populated southwest portion of the city is part of the yellow zone, a buffer area to help prevent further spread of the coronavirus. Together, the area will include parts of the 10701, 10703 and 10705 zip codes.

The yellow zone includes mandates that say that schools must randomly test 20% of all people on campus weekly for the virus. Businesses can stay open. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020, that a COVID cluster enforcement yellow zone was being established in part of Yonkers.

The goal of the yellow zone includes stopping the spread of the virus. Orange and red zones have higher restrictions. 

Reacting to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's announcement of the designation Thursday, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said that the yellow zone serves as an opportunity to control the virus. 

"We continue to be in close contact with state and county health officials to ensure the proper protocols are followed," Spano said. "I ask that every resident heed this wake-up call and do their part to protect themselves and their neighbors."

Previously, Spano warned of the rise in cases in several zip codes such as 10705 and 10703 – all heavily populated areas that are mainly on the city's west side. They are also primarily communities of color.

From Friday to Tuesday, Yonkers saw a nearly 30% jump in active coronavirus cases, from 389 to approximately 500, Spano said on social media. 

On Thursday, the county said that the active number of coronavirus cases in Yonkers had climbed to nearly 570. 

Yonkers Public Schools, one of the largest districts in the state, had been preparing for the new designation. 

Superintendent Edwin Quezada said Wednesday in a letter that the district is asking for parents' consent to allow their medical personnel to give students a coronavirus test in preparation for random testing in schools. 

Sam Kaitharath, 29, of Yonkers, N.Y. volunteered to have his photo taken while getting a COVID-19 test administered by Catherine Hopkins, a nurse practitioner at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Yonkers April 22, 2020. Hopkins, whose regular job at the hospital involves community outreach and school health, has been pressed into duty in other areas of the hospital due to the coronavirus pandemic. She now splits her time between the screening tent, the emergency room, and filling in as nursing supervisor for the entire hospital.

"Keeping our schools open and safe for in-person instruction relies on the partnership and cooperation of staff, parents and students," Quezada said. "The random testing process will help to reduce COVID-19 transmission in our schools, by identifying positive COVID-19 cases when symptoms are not present."

Mayor Spano has said the yellow zone in portions of the city of about 200,000 people could be strategically difficult in part because Yonkers utilizes busing in its education system. 

"Our kids are from all over the city," Spano said. "And you are going to have a situation where you're going to have parts of your community in different zones."

In that scenario, residents are going to have to pay close attention to what's going on in their community because there's been a disparity in the infection rate between some zip codes, the mayor continued.

Tiffany Cusaac-Smith covers Yonkers. Click here for her latest stories. Follow her on Twitter @T_Cusaac