Story at a glance

  • In an effort to tackle the uptick, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said anyone not wearing a mask while out in public will be provided one, and anyone who refuses to comply will face a fine.
  • “Our goal, of course, is to give everyone a free face mask and get them to wear it. We don’t want to fine people. If we have to, we will, and that will be starting on a large scale today,” de Blasio said.
  • The mayor warned additional steps could be taken if progress in controlling the uptick in cases isn’t seen quickly.

New York City is cracking down on mask-wearing as the city’s daily coronavirus infection rate has climbed past 3 percent for the first time in months. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) on Tuesday said the daily infection rate in the city is 3.25 percent, while the seven-day rolling average is 1.38 percent. He called the positivity rate “cause for real concern,” noting that nine zip codes are experiencing worrying increases in COVID-19 cases. Some areas are showing test results above 10 percent positivity. 


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In an effort to tackle the uptick, de Blasio said anyone not wearing a mask while out in public will be provided one, and anyone who refuses to comply will face a fine. 

“That will happen aggressively,” de Blasio said during a news briefing. “Our goal, of course, is to give everyone a free face mask and get them to wear it. We don’t want to fine people. If we have to, we will, and that will be starting on a large scale today.” 

The mayor warned additional steps could be taken if progress in controlling the uptick in cases isn’t seen quickly. He said the city may have to prohibit gatherings that are not “very small” and close non-essential businesses if necessary. 

“No one wants that to happen if it can be avoided,” he said. “It is a situation at this point that’s very serious, and we have to have all options on the table.” 

The crack down comes after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority earlier this month put a policy in place to fine commuters who refuse to wear a mask on public transit. 

The mayor’s announcement came as many elementary school students made their way back to public schools for the first time after attempts to previously reopen schools in the city were delayed. De Blasio said that if the city’s seven-day rolling average reaches 3 percent, public schools will have to shut their doors once again. 

New York was the coronavirus epicenter in the U.S. early on in the pandemic and has recorded more than 457,000 cases and more than 33,000 deaths, according to state health data. 

The state’s positivity rate is 1.1 percent while the average in the top 20 zip codes is above 5 percent, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Tuesday. 

“We know how this virus spreads & we know how to stop the spread. Local governments MUST enforce compliance,” Cuomo tweeted Tuesday. 


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Published on Sep 29, 2020