Coronavirus News: Some private New York City schools face possible closure as virus spikes

COVID-19 News and Information
NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The New York City Health Department has issued a Commissioner's Order to non-public schools in six Brooklyn and two Queens ZIP codes amid a troubling spike in COVID positivity rates.

The city's latest numbers appear to confirm the troubling trend, showing COVID test positivity rates increasing in the following neighborhoods:

Gravesend/Homecrest (6.73%)
Midwood (5.22%)
Kew Gardens (3.53%)
Edgemere/Far Rockaway (4.03%)
Borough Park (4.20%)
Bensonhurst/Mapleton (3.81%)
Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay (3.57%)
Flatlands/Midwood (3.40%)

These areas account for over 23% of new cases citywide over the past two weeks despite representing just under 7% of the City's overall population. The growth of cases in these ZIP codes is 3.3 times the citywide average over the past 14 days.

In addition to these 8 ZIP codes, an additional 4 ZIP codes are showing increased growth of cases and test positivity between 2% and 3%. These are:

Rego Park (2.46%)
Kew Gardens Hills/Pomonok (2.36%)
Kensington/Windsor Terrace (2.31%)
Brighton Beach/Manhattan Beach/Sheepshead Bay (2.21%)

Williamsburg remains an area where we are observing a faster increase in cases compared to other parts of the City, even though the test positivity rate is below 3% (1.72%).

Any school in these areas found to be out of compliance will be issued a violation and face a possible closure.

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is targeting six neighborhoods that have seen recent upticks in coronavirus cases, with an emphasis on expanded testing and contact tracing.



The fine for violating a Commissioner's Order is $1,000.

"This may be the most precarious position with COVID-19 we have experienced in months, and we must immediately take action to protect our communities," said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi. "Protecting against COVID-19 requires a group response. It is critical for us to follow public health guidance, most importantly the Core 4: Wear face coverings, keep physical distance, keep your hands clean, and stay home if you are sick."

The COVID-19 risk reduction measures for non-public schools include:

*All individuals on the school premises should remain at least 6 feet apart at all times, except in emergencies or when doing so would create a safety hazard;

*Face coverings are required in school buildings at all times, except for individuals who cannot wear a face covering because of developmental, medical or age reasons;

*Coordinating with the Health Department and the Test + Trace Corps to identify, isolate and prevent the spread of COVID-19; and

*Following established protocols for opening and closing schools if a student or staff is confirmed with COVID-19, and excluding students and staff who have symptoms of or are confirmed with COVID-19 or have been identified as a close contact to someone with COVID-19.


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New York City warns that activities could be shut down in several neighborhoods with COVID clusters.



The ZIP codes under the Commissioner's Order are:
11204 (Bensonhurst/Mapleton)
11223 (Gravesent/Homecrest)
11230 (Midwood)
11691 (Edgemere/Far Rockaway)
11415 (Kew Gardens)
11219 (Borough Park)
11229 (Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay)
11210 (Flatlands/Midwood)

The order went into effect Friday.

Inspectors will be visiting the non-public schools in the covered ZIP codes to check for compliance.

The Health Department said it will be sharing additional documents over the weekend and posting online to further help schools understand these requirements. Failure to comply could result in a violation subject to a $1,000 fine.

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Suddenly, the brutal death of George Floyd while in the custody of police officers in Minneapolis filled the streets of a nation with rage and sorrow. New York was no different. Protesters put the fear of the virus aside and took to the streets by the thousands. Abandoning the safety and comfort of social distance, to demand social change.




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