New York City is facing a crucial test this week in whether it can prevent a second wave of Covid-19 by enforcing targeted shutdowns in areas that have emerged as coronavirus hot spots.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a Tuesday press conference that aggressive outreach and testing, combined with tighter social-distancing restrictions, have already led to some “leveling off” in so-called red zones, which have seen the highest positivity rates for the virus.
“This week will be absolutely decisive,” Mr. de Blasio said. “This is the week where we can start to turn the tide in those red-zone areas and contain the problems that we are seeing there.”
The new restrictions, implemented last week, affect swaths of New York City and nearby Rockland and Orange counties. The measures take a tiered approach, with hot spots identified by the colors red, orange and yellow.
In the red zones, which span parts of Brooklyn, Queens, Rockland and Orange counties, schools and nonessential businesses have been closed. Mass gatherings are off-limits and houses of worship are restricted to no more than 25% capacity or 10 people. Orange and yellow zones face fewer restrictions.
The city has been ramping up enforcement of the new restrictions. Over the weekend, New York City authorities issued over 100 summonses in red, orange and yellow zones for a variety of violations, including holding mass gatherings, officials said. More than $150,000 in fines were also handed out.
The number of people testing positive in New York City since mid-September has been on the rise, with the most recent seven-day average hitting 520 people on Sunday. A city threshold for new coronavirus cases is 550, an indicator that was set months ago as part of measures rolled out for the reopening of the city in June.
Hospital admissions for Covid-19 were at 59 people on Sunday. The threshold for the city is 200.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last week that mass gatherings and schools are places where the disease is transmitted easily. New York City reopened its middle and high schools this month, the final batch of public schools to reopen for in-person instruction in the nation’s largest school district.
To contain the spread of the virus in schools, City Hall promised random monthly testing of 10% to 20% of students and staff showing up in person at each school. Across 56 schools, 1,751 people have been tested so far, Mr. de Blasio said Tuesday. Only one test came back positive.
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