BY CATE CORCORAN
Following a warm, sunny weekend in which Prospect Park was jam packed and people were crowding bars and restaurants, Mayor de Blasio Sunday finally took a much needed step and officially closed Brooklyn schools, the Brooklyn Public Library, restaurants, bars and movie theaters.
The economic fallout is likely to be severe, but slowing the spread of the coronavirus is crucial to prevent Italy- and Seattle-like catastrophe, if it is not already too late.
Restaurants are allowed to operate as long as they do takeout and delivery only. Other businesses, such as Greenlight Books, Books Are Magic and Utica Avenue Plumbing Supply, are voluntarily moving to a similar business model.
Cuomo announced this morning gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, the New York Times reported. The situation is rapidly evolving.
“Everyone in NYC should act as if they have been exposed to coronavirus,” and leave the house only for food and other essentials such as medicine, or for work if they cannot work from home, tweeted the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Sunday night.
Before the mayor closed the schools, alarm and outrage spread on social media as parents learned parents at P.S. 107 in Park Slope, P.S. 58 in Carroll Gardens and P.S. 132 in Williamsburg were sick but the schools were still operating. When healthcare workers union SEIU threw its support behind school closure Sunday, de Blasio ordered the shutdown.
De Blasio continued to spread misinformation during a Sunday address, claiming only people with symptoms are highly contagious. Disease experts say people are most contagious in the week before and after they contract the virus, which has an incubation period of one to 14 days — most typically five days. A story in the Post told people to assume they’ve already been infected, and said the situation could continue into the fall.
It’s a fine line between supporting local businesses and practicing social distancing, popular Cobble Hill author of “Dining In” and “Nothing Fancy” cookbooks Alison Roman said in a photo caption Friday night on Instagram Stories while showing a photo of eating out with friends at a local restaurant.
Saturday officials announced the first New York City death from coronavirus, an 82-year-old woman with emphysema, who died at Wyckoff Hospital in Bushwick, it was widely reported. New York State Assembly members from Brooklyn Charles Barron and Helene Weinstein have the virus.
New York City prisons had their first case of coronavirus among a staff member and Legal Aid sent out a statement imploring jails to put necessary hygiene practices into place, such as distributing soap to prisoners, who currently have none. By order of the mayor, visitors are no longer allowed to jails, the New York Post reported.
Parks, Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Green-Wood Cemetery are open, although visitors are cautioned to keep six to 10 feet apart.
Schools are closed starting today; food will be available for pickup. Tuesday through Thursday staff will be trained on distance learning, and Monday, March 23, remote learning will start.
The DOE plans to open “regional enrichment centers” to serve children of first responders and others with nowhere to go or with difficult home situations.
At the moment the DOE hopes to reopen April 20, but the mayor “cautioned that could be overly optimistic,” according to the New York Times.
Hospitals have been told to cancel elective surgery and senior citizen centers are closed.
The Fed has set the interest rate at zero, and New York City is giving out grants and no-interest loans to small businesses. Businesses with fewer than five employees can get a grant to cover 40 percent of payroll for two months. Visit New York City’s small businesses portal for details. Council Member Brad Lander called for “Depression style measures” such as “suspension of evictions, mortgage, tax payments, plus economic recovery payments to small businesses and families” in an email Sunday. More steps will certainly be needed, as slowdowns, shutdowns and layoffs cascade through the economy and people are unable to pay rent and mortgages.
“Aggressive social distancing is what we can and must do together to slow the spread of the virus, in order to protect vulnerable people and reduce the massive and deadly strain that’s about to hit our hospitals,” Lander said.
The Brooklyn Public Library is “working quickly to add to our already extensive digital offerings which include online newspapers, video story times, e-books and magazines, language lessons and much more,” the organization said in a statement. Keep checking the library’s coronavirus page for more information.
We’ve also heard from two sources that their dealers are out of weed. “On a side note, a friend told me her regular weed supplier reports that he’s out of stock – panic buying is everywhere!” one of them told Brownstoner.