NEW YORK                 -              New York is deploying National Guard troops for the first time in the coronavirus crisis to help contain the spread of the disease from an infection-hit suburb of New York City, the state’s governor said Tuesday.

Andrew Cuomo said authorities would set up a one-mile radius “containment zone” around the epicenter of an outbreak in New Rochelle in suburban Westchester County.

Cuomo explained that all facilities in the zone that hold large gatherings, such as schools and temples, would be closed for two weeks beginning Thursday.

“We’re also going to use the National Guard in the containment area to deliver food to homes, to help with the cleaning of public spaces,” Cuomo said. There have been 173 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New York state, including 108 in Westchester County, home to New Rochelle where the majority of infections have been detected.

Cuomo told reporters that businesses in the containment zone will remain open and that people will be free to come and go as they wish, insisting there is no quarantine.

“You’re not containing people, it’s facilities,” he said.

 “It is a dramatic action, but it is the largest cluster in the country. This is literally a matter of life and death,” Cuomo added.

‘Makes people nervous’ -

“People are scared, it’s an unusual situation to be in,” said Miles Goldberg, who runs a New Rochelle bar.

“It makes people nervous to be around others, it makes people nervous to get inside into businesses and such,” he said. Tim Eble, who manages a gym, said he intended to keep the facility open but take “extra precautions to keep things clean.”

The area is centered on a synagogue in New Rochelle -- a city of 80,000 inhabitants just north of New York City -- that was attended by a man who was the state’s first case, a lawyer working in Manhattan. His wife, Adina Lewis Garbuz, posted Tuesday on Facebook that it had taken health officials “days” to figure out he was infected.

“As many have asked, of course he went to the doctor and did so many times. No one figured it out and it even took the hospital days to figure it out,” she said, reporting that the rest of her family was in good health.

At least one of the employees at the hospital where her husband was treated contracted the virus, and others, including doctors, were under quarantine, according to The New York Times. The hospital did not immediately respond for comment when contacted by AFP. The United States has more than 950 confirmed cases of the deadly virus, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University. Twenty-eight people have died, 23 of those in Washington state, the other US virus epicenter.No one has died in New York.