New York City reports uptick in COVID-19 cases as schools try to reopen

New York City reported that its daily positivity rate of coronavirus tests surpassed 3 percent on Tuesday for the first time since June, with the bulk of the increase coming from certain Queens and southern Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) called the 3.25 percent positivity rate “cause for real concern” in a Tuesday press briefing. The nine at-risk ZIP codes are predominantly Orthodox communities. De Blasio said the statewide rate is about 1 percent.

The city, an early U.S. epicenter for the pandemic, saw its numbers steadily fall over the summer but has seen an increase in recent weeks. The uptick is disrupting the city’s attempts to reopen schools, which de Blasio has already delayed. The mayor said that if the city’s seven-day rolling average reaches 3 percent, public schools will have to close again.

In-person schooling resumed for elementary schools in the country’s largest district Tuesday after two delays. Under the staggered plan, elementary schools are the second wave of reopening, with middle and high schools tentatively set to resume in-person classes Thursday.

City officials warned last week a number of neighborhoods are the primary source of the city’s increase, including Brooklyn’s Gravesend, Midwood and Borough Park. The city has threatened to implement tight lockdown measures to enforce mitigation efforts in these areas, according to The New York Times. De Blasio on Friday ordered the New York Police Department and the New York sheriff’s office to enforce mask mandates in the neighborhoods. On Tuesday, he said tougher enforcement, including steeper fines, would start “on a large scale” immediately.

“This is an inflection point. We have to take serious action, and we will be escalating each day depending on what we see on the ground,” he added. Closures of nonessential businesses and religious schools could be in the cards if locals do not take proper precautions, he added.

“This is something where if you’re going to make tough decisions about, for example, whether businesses can be open, yeshivas can be open, you want to make sure you have the very best numbers,” he said.

In his own press briefing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said the new outbreaks were some of the biggest the state had seen in months.

“These are embers that are starting to catch fire in dry grass. Send all the firefighters and firefighting equipment to those embers and stamp out the embers right away,” he said.

Tags Andrew Cuomo Bill de Blasio Coronavirus COVID-19 schools reopening

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