"In some parts of our city in Brooklyn and Queens we're having an extraordinary problem," Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a press conference on Sunday

By Maria Pasquini
October 04, 2020 05:00 PM
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Officials are taking swift action to try and lessen the spread of the novel coronavirus in areas across New York City that have seen a prolonged spike in cases.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that all public and private schools in nine zip codes throughout Brooklyn and Queens would be closing on Tuesday and switching to remote learning.

The previous day, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called for a shutdown of non-essential businesses and schools in those zip codes, repeatedly noting that it “pains me to be putting forward this approach.”

“Over these last weeks we had some moments as New Yorkers that we could celebrate after everything we’ve been through,” he said, specifically citing Oct. 1, when the city reopened all of its public schools.  “Today, unfortunately, is not a day for celebration.”

“In some parts of our city in Brooklyn and Queens, we’re having an extraordinary problem. Something we haven’t seen since the spring,” he said, sharing that nine zip codes have reported a COVID-19 positivity rate of over three percent for at least seven consecutive weeks.

Although de Blasio said in his proposal that he planned on closing schools starting on Wednesday, Cuomo's announcement moved the timeline up by one day.

Asked how state officials came to that decision, Cuomo replied, "Some of the schools in the hotspot zip codes have been tested but some have not. How can you send children into a school in a hot spot zip code when you know that you don’t have any information as to if it’s safe?” 

For now, the only action the state is taking is school closures, with Cuomo deciding against de Blasio's plan to also close non-essential businesses in those nine zip codes.

Over half a million residents are predicted to be affected by the closures, as well as around 100 public and 200 private schools, according to ABC 7. The mayor has estimated that the shutdown would last for between 2-4 weeks, and they have not announced plans for reopening.

Commenting on the elevated COVID-19 rate in the N.Y.C. hotspots, Cuomo said on Sunday that the state would be implementing “aggressive enforcement starting tomorrow.”

Cuomo went on to note that 21 percent of all positive cases in the state on Saturday were from 20 zip codes. “If you live in one of these ZIP codes, treat this seriously,” he wrote on Twitter. “Wear a mask. Get tested. Wash your hands often. Don't attend large gatherings.”

After two-and-a-half months of steadily decreasing numbers of new COVID-19 cases, infections are again trending upwards in the U.S.

Last weekend, new cases in New York topped 1,000 for the first time since June, as Cuomo announced an increase in positive test results, primarily in neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens. At the time, the NYC Health Department also said that “cases continue to grow at an alarming rate in eight neighborhoods in the city, outpacing the citywide average by 3.3 times over the past 14 days.”

"It's vital that New Yorkers continue to practice the basic behaviors that drive our ability to fight COVID-19 as we move into the fall and flu season," Cuomo said, according to CNN. "We cannot drop our guard."

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