“It’s politics,” said Mark McLean, president of the New Rochelle branch of the NAACP. “This is all Governor Cuomo wanting to exert his dominance over this issue and we’re all caught in the middle of it. It’s not about effectiveness, it’s about planting that flag. But we’re the homeowners who’ll have difficulty selling our houses because Cuomo wanted the first containment zone. We’re the ones whose kids are going to be traumatized with the stigma of being from New Rochelle.”
The containment zone, while the first of its kind in the US, limits public gatherings in a pocket of the city with few places suited for dense public gathering — a country club and sprawling parkland break up the sloping lawns, two-story houses, and strip malls. In the 13-square mile town of 80,000 people, residents who live in the zone work or attend schools outside of it, and some who live outside of it still freely drive, walk, or take the bus through it.
“What is a one-mile radius supposed to do when you have a virus that has crossed states, crossed oceans?” asked Sharon Footes, a 40-year-old Army veteran. “You’re really not containing anybody.”
Nothing marks where the containment zone begins and ends. The only signs of anything out of the ordinary at the Young Israel Synagogue are an empty box of state-issued hand sanitizers sitting in front of its locked entrance doors, as well as a few purple ribbons scrawled with hearts and messages in Hebrew that are tied to light posts lining the street.