Updated: December 07, 2020 06:59 PM
Created: December 07, 2020 05:46 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — After weeks of claiming that gyms, hair salons and barbershops were among the top spreaders of COVID-19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo changed his tune on Monday. At a press briefing in New York City, the Governor said that the CDC is more concerned about indoor dining and that gyms and salons, “are not major spreaders.”
Those comments come less than two weeks after the Governor had the following exchange with News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke:
Lewke: "Governor, the Health Commissioner here in Monroe County has said that they have not contact traced a single case of COVID spread back to a gym, hair salon or barbershop yet today, as we go into the orange zone here, those are the people most impacted. I asked you about this on a phone call last week and you pointed to national statistics. But I guess my understanding of the microcluster zones is that they drill down locally into what's causing the spread here, if that is not causing the spread, why are these people the most impacted?"
Gov. Cuomo: "Where do they say, the spread of coming from?"
Lewke: "What you've said, living room spread, small gatherings in private homes."
Gov. Cuomo: "Yea, well every expert says the same thing, every state, democratic states, republican states, most states, big states. Democratic experts, republican experts… the highest rates of spread are restaurants, bars, gyms and home gathering. The situation where you have the least control is home gatherings… bars, restaurants, gyms, you can enforce those are the four major spreaders. So, you do what you can with those four main spreaders."
The Governor then deferred to his top aide.
Melissa DeRosa (Secretary to the Governor): "You are closing businesses where there is a greater chance of spread by virtue of the closeness of the people that are working with one another that are doing in-person services or again like in gyms, where your breathing more heavily your closer in contact with one another."
Lewke: "But they’re following your restrictions that you put in place for them to re-open which would have alleviated some of what you’re talking about."
DeRosa: "The restrictions are great and we saw at moments through this, through months and months and months that the restrictions have worked but what you’re seeing in these areas with the spikes is there is a greater prevalence of community spread."
On Monday though, a change of heart. While describing the new metrics the state will use to determine whether more closures and/or restrictions are necessary Gov. Cuomo said, “gyms and salons on the numbers, we have so many protocols on the gyms and salons they’re not major spreaders on the numbers.”
When a reporter tried to clarify what that means for the gyms and salons that are currently closed because they’re in an Orange Zone, the Governor said of his new regulations, “this is on top of the orange regulations, so this would supersede.”
When the question was posted to the NYS Department of Health, a spokesman referred back to the governor's statement which spoke specifically to indoor dining and not salons and gyms. He would not comment specifically on whether gyms and salons in the Orange Zone could re-open. News10NBC will continue to press for an answer.
We also reached out to Monroe County Executive Adam Bello’s office and Bob Duffy, the head of the Finger Lakes Control room—both tell us they are awaiting further guidance from the state of New York as to whether gyms and hair salons in the orange zone can re-open.
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