The health department continues to track four concerning clusters of COVID-19 cases in Southern Brooklyn, Williamsburg, Central Queens and Far Rockaway.
Brighton Beach/Manhattan Beach/Sheepshead Bay is the latest neighborhood to be added to the list. The 11 are the only neighborhoods in New York City with positivity rates above 3%.
Nine of the 11 neighborhoods saw increases even from the prior day's report, based on the health department's preliminary data. The areas account for over 29.9% of new cases citywide over the past 2 weeks despite representing 8.8% of the city's overall population.
In addition to these 11 neighborhoods, health officials have identified seven additional neighborhoods, now including Williamsburg, Crown Heights (East), Bedford-Stuyvesant (West)/Clinton Hill/Fort Greene, and Hillcrest/Jamaica Estates/Jamaica Hills, which are quickly becoming an area of concern because of the growth of cases.
- Edgemere/Far Rockaway
- Brighton Beach/Manhattan Beach/Sheepshead Bay
- Borough Park
- Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/ Sheepshead Bay
- Kew Gardens
- Kew Gardens Hills/Pomonok
- Fresh Meadows/Hillcrest
- East Williamsburg/ Williamsburg
- Bedford-Stuyvesant (West)/Clinton Hill/Fort Greene
- Kensington/Windsor Terrace
- Brighton Beach/Manhattan Beach/Sheepshead Bay
- Crown Heights (East)
- Rego Park
- Hillcrest/Jamaica Estates/Jamaica Hills
Three of the 7 areas above have also increased in the percent of positive tests since the day before, according to preliminary data.
As COVID cases spike, mask enforcement is becoming stricter.
People who refuse to wear a face mask after being offered one or reminded to put their own on are subject to a $1,000 fine in New York City.
130 warnings were issued to businesses in the past two days, and 16 violations.
City employees distributed thousands of masks in the Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods with rising infection rates on Tuesday, the first day that fines for refusing to wear a mask were threatened, de Blasio said.
"We saw good compliance," de Blasio said. "When folks were encountered, when there was a discussion, we saw a very high level of compliance."
Many of the neighborhoods in New York City and elsewhere in the state where rising rates of positive coronavirus tests have been reported are Orthodox Jewish strongholds, and both Mayor de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo have said they are meeting with leaders of those communities to stress the importance of complying with coronavirus guidelines. But Cuomo appeared to disparage New York City's effort to contain the virus by distributing masks in the neighborhoods where cases are rising.
"'Can I give you a mask?' We're past that point," Cuomo said in a conference call that followed de Blasio's coronavirus briefing. "That's not compliance. That is public education. We're past public education. We've been doing this since February."
Thursday, Governor Cuomo seemed pleased with the city's stepped up enforcement efforts.
New York City reached a recovery milestone on Wednesday, meanwhile, as indoor restaurant dining was permitted for the first time since March, albeit with restrictions including a limit of 25% of capacity and mandatory temperature checks.
400 NYPD officers, 250 enforcement officers, and 300 members of the Test and Trace Corps will work to make sure people in those neighborhoods wear masks and social distance.
If enforcement efforts with social distancing and mask-wearing don't work, Mayor de Blasio said there will be more stringent measures taken, including closing down non-essential businesses and banning public gatherings larger than 10 people.
"No one wants that to happen if it can be avoided," de Blasio said.
New York City reported a daily positivity rate above the threshold for keeping schools open on Tuesday, however, on Thursday the city was reporting a daily positivity rate 1.59% and a 7-day average of 1.52%.
Mayor de Blasio said that the city will keep schools open or closed based on the 7-day average, not the daily number.
About 300,000 public elementary school students returned to classrooms Tuesday. Middle and high school students had their first day on Thursday. About half of all public school families opted into in-person learning and the other half opted to keep kids home for remote learning.
So far, the Teacher's Union says that they've had more than 1,206 students and staff test positive.
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