ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York is trying to contain the steadily increasing spread of COVID-19 in parts of western and central New York with new restrictions on dining and gatherings and mandatory testing requirements in schools.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday he is designating parts of Erie, Monroe and Onondaga counties — home to Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse — as "yellow zones" where gatherings are capped at 25 people and restaurants may not have more than four people at a table.
Schools in yellow zones must also do more mandatory virus testing of students under Cuomo's hot spot plan launched last month.
"As I think it is clear to all, we have definitely entered a new phase with COVID," Cuomo told reporters Monday.
New York state averaged nearly 3,000 new infections per day during the past seven days. That's up 71 percent in two weeks.
Partial map of the Yellow Zone in Onondaga County, N.Y. (Via governor.ny.gov)
During the first eight days of November, 22,445 New Yorkers have fallen ill with the virus, more than were sickened in the entire month of August.
The acceleration of the virus in New York has mirrored one occurring nationally. Cuomo has so far sought to fight it by zeroing in on small geographic areas where things are worst, rather than reimposing broad restrictions statewide, as he did in the spring.
New York is continuing to target other hot spots in Rockland County north of New York City as well as in several counties along its northern border with Pennsylvania: Broome, Steuben and Chemung.
One red zone in Brooklyn, which was among the first such hot spots designated by the state, will be allowed to transition to an "orange zone" where schools and additional nonessential businesses can reopen, Cuomo announced.
Get breaking news alerts in the FOX5NY News app. Download for FREE!
New York has also suspended the liquor license for North Fork Country Club on Long Island for hosting a 113-person wedding on Oct. 17 that violated gathering restrictions and led to at least 34 coronavirus infections, Cuomo said.
Club officials didn't immediately respond to a phone message on Monday.
"Hosting one of these events after all New York has been through is obnoxious and irresponsible — not to mention illegal," Cuomo said.
Hospitals throughout the state are still nowhere near as jammed with coronavirus patients as they were in the spring, when they averaged 18,000 patients per day for several days in April.
Hospitals reported an average of 1,328 patients over the last week, up from 659 in the first week of October and a low of 426 in the first week of September.