Gov. Cuomo: ‘the issue’ of recent COVID-19 outbreaks ‘is with that ultra-orthodox community’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.), already facing fierce condemnation from the Jewish community for his latest lockdown order, said in a Friday CNN interview that he believes “the issue” of the recent outbreaks across parts of New York City “is with that ultra-orthodox community,” the New York Post reports.

Recently, areas of New York City, mostly parts of Brooklyn and Queens, have seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases. As a result, Gov. Cuomo issued a lockdown order for those areas affected, which he calls “red zones.”

Many Orthodox Jewish communities live in these “red zones” and, in response to the lockdown preventing them from attending religious services around their holy days, they have staged large protests. Groups like Agudath Israel of America and the Brooklyn Diocese have even sued Cuomo over his executive order for allegedly violating their First Amendment rights.

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While the governor made a point of saying, “I don’t care if you’re Roman Catholic, you’re Jewish, you’re Muslim, you’re an atheist. You have to follow the rules of the state, the laws of the state,” he emphasized that he believes the Orthodox Jewish community is “the issue” when it comes to enforcing the lockdowns.

“The cluster is a predominantly ultra-orthodox cluster,” he said. “The Catholic schools are closed because they happen to be in that cluster, but the issue is with that ultra-orthodox community.”

“This is not a matter of religious freedom,” the governor added.

Cuomo, who has had a longtime relationship with New York’s Jewish communities, highlighted this relationship.

“I’m a big supporter of theirs, but you have to follow the rules,” he said, “because we’re seeing the truth and the truth is if you don’t follow the rules, the infection rate spreads, people get sick, and then you make others sick.”

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.