Weariness hits residents in New York's 'containment area'

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A notice hangs near the cash register at a bagel shop, Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in New Rochelle, N.Y. With business slowed since a cluster of coronavirus cases hit the New York City suburb, the shop will be closed beginning Thursday for the two weeks when the state enforces a containment area shuttering several schools and houses of worship and sending in the National Guard to help with what appears to be the nation's biggest cluster of coronavirus cases. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – At the center of one of the nation's biggest clusters of coronavirus cases, restaurant owner Joshua Berkowitz has adopted what he calls a “drop and dash” method of delivering food to customers — including many in quarantine.

“I'm afraid for their safety, and they’re afraid for my safety,” he said Wednesday. “I don't want to have contact with them.”

Many shops and restaurants were open but empty inside a “containment area” in New Rochelle, a New York City suburb, where residents described a deep sense of anxiety.

The town is at the center of an outbreak of over 120 cases in Westchester County, out of over 200 statewide. State officials on Tuesday called for closing schools, houses of worship and any other spaces were large numbers of people gather within a 1-mile radius (1.6 kilometers) of a point near a synagogue where an infected person had attended events.

State officials have stressed it is not a lockdown, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that all actions have been taken through mutual agreement and that the state has not invoked any legal authority. National Guard troops are expected beginning Thursday to help clean public spaces and deliver food to people who are in quarantine.

As he walked through town at lunchtime, Hugh Price carried a bottle of homemade sanitizer sent to him by his daughters in Florida. He worries, he said, about his many neighbors who are under quarantine.

“I think there is a weariness," he said. "You're just more mindful of who you have contact with and the nature of the contact.”

The coronavirus causes a disease called COVID-19 that has stricken thousands across the globe but usually presents only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For older adults and people with other health problems, it can cause complications or sometimes death. Most people recover.