Postcards from the Containment Zone

By Jim Carney

The normally quiet neighborhood of New Rochelle known as Wykagyl – named after the local country club – is now recognized by most Americans as The Containment Zone. The area is designated by NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo as a one-mile radius around the neighborhood’s Young Israel Synagogue – the most widespread epicenter of the COVID 19 Coronavirus in the nation. Movement by residents within the Zone is unrestricted and businesses are – for the most part – opened. The Bronx Journal’s Jim Carney lives inside the Zone and set out to see how the unclear designation is affecting the local community.

  1. Young Israel

Young Israel Synagogue on North Avenue is believed to be the starting place for the local outbreak.  A member attended multiple functions at the temple in late February and is believed to have exposed hundreds of people to the virus.  The synagogue is closed, as are all schools, churches and other large meeting places within a one-mile radius of Young Israel, for a two week period.

  1. New Rochelle High School

New Rochelle High School, the only high school serving the 80,000 residents of the city is deserted at the usual dismissal time. The site was used earlier in the day as the staging area for the NY National Guard called up to serve meals to students left without school breakfasts and lunches, and to clean schools, churches and other public buildings.

  1. Media Attention

The most obvious departure from life as usual is the multitude of news crews from area TV and cable news operations within The Zone, and planted around City Hall.

 

  1. IONA College Early Spring Break

IONA College, on the southern perimeter of the designated Containment Area, decided to move to an early Spring Break and shifted classes for the rest of the semester Online. The Mirage Café, located on the ground floor of one of the college’s dorms, was deserted except for staff.  John, the manager, said they are remaining open to serve the few remaining faculty and students and the neighboring community, and to “wait and see.”  The nearby Westchester Taco Grill decided otherwise.

 

  1. Vinnie The Barber

E.M Barbers opened just last year by Vinnie Aizzia and his wife Erica.  Their immaculate shop – in a newly renovated commercial strip a short distance up North Avenue from the Young Israel Temple – was quiet except for the FOX 5 Crew that was broadcasting live from just outside their front door. Vinnie said that business was fine until last weekend.  “Since then, its been dead.”  Erica, who handles the front desk and welcomes customers, said she does her best to keep the place wiped down and clean, but is waiting for promised cleaning supplies from Westchester County.  They plan to wait it out and hope for the best.

 

  1. North End Tavern


The local sports bar, North End Tavern is virtually empty on what would be a busy night during the NCAA March Madness Tournament. Russ, the manager said things were very slow and the loss of the sports seasons would severely hurt their business.

  1. Bagels & Nails


On Wednesday, The local Bagel Café was offering deep discounts on bagels and cream cheese, prior to taking a suddenly planned vacation.  According to the exasperated owner who was dispensing the bagels, the food would only go bad and “the family all need a vacation.” The Sun Nail & Spa in the Wykagyl Shopping Center just off North Avenue was also shuttered “Due to Corona Virus.”

 

  1. Normal Grocery Supplies


In the ACME Supermarket in the Wycagyl Shopping Center, next to the closed nail salon, Judy, the store manager, said that there was an initial run on things like hand sanitizers and disinfectants, but otherwise they had normal supplies – including toilet paper.

 

  1. No Late Night Latte

The local Starbucks in New Rochelle, is quiet on the first night of the planned two-week long Containment Zone.

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