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Local Governments Could Be Fined $10K Per Day For Not Enforcing COVID Rules

ALBANY, NY (WSKG) - Local governments in New York could be fined up to $10,000 per day by the state Department of Health if they don’t enforce the agency’s guidelines concerning COVID-19 precautions and protection, like cracking down on mass gatherings and people not wearing masks.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday that the Department of Health would be sending a letter to municipalities warning them of the fine if they don’t ramp up enforcement.

"If the local governments don't step up the compliance, they will actually be in violation of the law and they can be fined," Cuomo said.

Beth Garvey, special counsel to Cuomo, said on a call with reporters Friday morning that the Department of Health will review compliance activities from local governments to assess those fines, and then decide if they should be issued.

“If found to be deficient, they would present a statement of charges to that county,” Garvey said. “Continuing violations could be assessed that amount for each day they are not following through on their requirements to enforce.”

The warning comes as the infection rate in 20 zip codes in New York — about 6% of the state’s population — remained at 6.4%, about the same level as the day before. The statewide infection rate without those zip codes is 1.03%, Cuomo said.

Those COVID-19 clusters have now been consistent for the last few days in Brooklyn, Queens, and Orange and Rockland Counties, according to data from the state.

Other COVID-19 indicators have also started to rise in recent days, including the total number of hospitalizations. According to Cuomo, the total number of hospitalizations jumped from 612 on Wednesday to 648 on Thursday, the latest numbers available.

That’s a far cry from the nearly 19,000 people who were hospitalized with the virus at its peak in New York, but it’s a change from several months of decline, and then a plateau in recent weeks.

The state’s schools, Cuomo said, have so far reported 1,258 positive cases of the coronavirus. That number includes both students and staff at school buildings, and those learning and teaching remotely.