After 10 days in a second COVID-19 lockdown, the future remains uncertain in the red zones of South Brooklyn. The infection rate there remains stubbornly high -- nearly five times the citywide average.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has remained cautiously optimistic -- seemed slightly less so on Friday.
"Guardedly, we see some improvement," he said on WNYC Radio. "In the communities most affected, there are still some that are not moving in the right direction. But a number of them have either leveled off or started to go toward better numbers, lower numbers."
For restaurants, that means at least another weekend of takeout and delivery orders.
And for houses of worship, it means more empty pews. Rabbis who have done everything right say they are frustrated. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn has filed suit against the State, in an effort to lift the restrictions.
Former City OEM Commissioner Joe Esposito is an advisor to the Bishop of Brooklyn.
"I was here Sunday," Esposito said. "When the church was closed, people will come into trying to get in, they hadn't heard the message, they're crying at the door of the church. This is where they come to worship, but it comes from fellowship with their fellow parishioners."
Other lawsuits brought by members of the ultra-Orthodox community have failed.
RELATED | COVID-19 testing begins in New York City's yellow zone schools
Testing is underway in the public schools that remain open in the yellow zones. The State of New York is providing 200,000 testing kits for mandatory weekly testing of students and staff. To date, 99.8% of the tests were negative.
Schools chancellor Richard Carranza was upbeat.
"There is mandatory testing for any human being in a school building during the school year," Carranza said. "We know that test and trace is very important. But we also know that in order to have a handle in our communities, it's important to have testing."
With nearly half a million kids in so-called blended learning, only 72,000 families have returned forms consenting to random testing. That's just 15%.
The city had promised its unions it would test every teacher and student, every month.
"Let's be very clear, a student who does not have consent -- there's an option for these students, and that's fully remote learning," Carranza said.
As for when the restrictions will be lifted, the mayor tried to sound hopeful.
"You know, there is a chance we get out of these restrictions as early as the latter part of next week, that's my goal," he said. "And based on the numbers I've seen, we are still in striking range of that."
ALSO READ | Religious groups take Cuomo to court over restrictions in COVID cluster zones
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