At the same time, Mr. McCoy and other county executives are terrified that if the virus continues to spread, it could force Mr. Cuomo’s hand to reinstate his March 22 “On Pause” order.
“We can’t do another shutdown,” said Mr. McCoy, citing worries about issues like domestic violence, child neglect and substance abuse. “But we can’t do our job if people aren’t cooperating with us.”
Mr. Cuomo has been warning about a possible resurgence of the virus for months and has pressed local officials to enforce virus-related restrictions.
But many county officials say they are dealing with their own mounting problems, including understaffing and early retirements, lack of resources and residents who are increasingly reluctant to abide restrictions.
“A lot of these things we know how to do, but the scale of it is absolutely unsustainable,” said Jason T. Garnar, the county executive in Broome County, where a hot spot emerged last month. “A lot of my employees are getting burned out.”
Some public health experts agree that the “case-based interventions” that Mr. Cuomo is recommending are preferable to broader shutdowns, citing ancillary damage to the economy, public morale and education, as well as surges in social ills.
“We know they work, but they work like a sledgehammer,” said Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
Still, the recent surge has given urgency to calls to not repeat the mistakes of last spring.
“I don’t think we need a full lockdown; on the other hand, I do think we need action,” said Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia University, noting that political leaders had been suggesting for weeks that they are considering new restrictions. “I always say if you think you need to do something, it probably means you need to do it.”
Joseph Goldstein and Emma G. Fitzsimmons contributed reporting