LAWRENCE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork)Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday spoke with Long Island religious leaders, including those from the Orthodox Jewish community, where there has been a recent spike in suburban COVID-19 cases.

He is urging faith leaders to keep strict guidelines in place over the coming holiday weekend to stop the spread, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.

Lawrence, one of Long Island’s “Five Towns,” is a new coronavirus hotspot, according to the governor.

“There has definitely been an uptick here — new cases, three, four, five cases per day,” Lawrence Deputy Mayor Michael Fragin said. “It’s a challenge to keep people apart when their inclination is to come together.”

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Residents living in the zip code of this predominantly Jewish community recorded a 7% positivity rate over the past seven days, while the state-wide figure has hovered around 1% most days, according to statistics from Albany.

“There is a big holiday coming up on Saturday night, Simchat Torah. It’s a holiday where people get together and there is dancing. I have been speaking with faith leaders. We all agree that this is the time to now avoid large gatherings,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.

The governor told long island’s religious leaders that synagogues and churches will remain open only if crowd limitations, masks, and social distancing rules are enforced at the door.

Tents have been put up outside temples and an aggressive personal protective equipment (PPE) campaign is underway. Many people who spoke to McLogan said they feel unfairly targeted by Gov. Cuomo singling them out and implying they are being lax and don’t care.

“We decided to keep school closed for two weeks so that just in case anyone was infected over the holiday,” said Rabbi Zev Friedman of Rambam Mesivta. “We have exercised extreme caution and prudence.”

“When you are wearing that mask think about the great deed that you are doing. As we say a ‘mitzvah,’ what a nice thing to help other people,” Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt said.

Doctors are asking everyone to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines, adding the infection rate is bound to go up in the fall.

“We are taking measures to make sure extra testing is available, extra education going on in those communities,” Nassau County Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein said.

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