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State classifies parts of Monroe County as COVID-19 'orange zones' 

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that parts of Monroe County will move to an ‘orange zone,’ which calls for additional restrictions. The new designation will take effect Wednesday for businesses and Thursday for schools.

Cuomo said the orange zone will affect parts of the City of Rochester, Brighton and Irondequoit, though his office did not immediately release a list of zip codes included in the zone. After 14 days, the state Health Department will reassess the areas to see if infection numbers have declined to the point that they can return to the less-restrictive yellow status.

Among the restrictions that are part of the state’s micro-cluster strategy for an Orange Zone:
  • Gatherings are limited to 10 people maximum, indoors and outdoors
  • Houses of worship cannot hold services larger than the lesser of 33% of maximum capacity or 25 people
  • Certain high-risk non-essential businesses such as gyms, fitness centers and classes, barber shops, hair salons, and personal care services are closed.
  • Bars and restaurants can offer only outdoor dining, takeout or delivery. There will be a four person maximum per table, and bars and restaurants close at 10:00pm for on-premises consumption.
  • Individual schools in the affected zip codes will move to remote learning, but there are guidelines from the state that can allow them to reopen if they meet certain metrics.
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza released the following statement:

Due to increasing spread of COVID-19, parts of Monroe County have been designated as an orange cluster zone by New York State. Unfortunately, this designation will bring new restrictions to our economy including the closure of high-risk, non-essential businesses such as personal care salons, barber shops and gyms and reduce in-person gatherings to no more than 10 people. In addition, school buildings located within the orange zone will have to close in person instruction until additional testing can be completed.

We want to be clear: we believe our schools should remain open as long as there is no evidence of spread in schools. The testing done in school buildings last week was proof that spread within the schools is not an issue, and that our schools are the safest place for our children during these uncertain times We will continue to advocate on behalf of our local school districts, and will work with them to continue to meet the needs of their students.

We are working with our government partners, school leaders and the business community to meet the needs of those affected by the orange cluster zone designation, and we are rapidly implementing a plan to provide increased COVID-19 testing in the affected zip codes.

Moving our community out of the yellow and orange cluster zones will take a community-wide effort. We know we can do this. Please continue to wear masks in public, wash your hands frequently, maintain a safe six-foot physical distance from others and limit your in-person gatherings. We all need to work together so we can safely reopen our economy and make sure our children are able to be in school.
The Monroe County Health Department reported 366 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Monday. The seven-day rolling average for new cases is 298 per day, according to the county. The seven-day rolling average positivity rate for the county is 3.49 percent.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Randy Gorbman is the news director at WXXI News, a media partner of CITY. Jeremy Moule, CITY’s news editor, contributed to this story. He can be reached at

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