City reports uptick in COVID-19 cases in six neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens

FILE PHOTO: A lab at Methodist Dallas Medical Center testing samples for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Dallas
FILE PHOTO: A lab at Methodist Dallas Medical Center prepares viral transport media for samples before collecting samples for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Dallas, Texas, U.S. June 24, 2020. (REUTERS/Cooper Neill)

The city is keeping an eye on six neighborhoods with recent upticks in COVID-19 cases, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday. 

The neighborhoods – Kew Gardens, Borough Park, Midwood, Flatbush, Far Rockaway and Williamsburg – are all located in Brooklyn and Queens. 

Midwood, Sunset Park, Williamsburg  and Far Rockaway saw upticks of the virus in August and earlier this month. Experts linked some of new cases in Sunset Park to a large wedding in the neighborhood’s Orthodox community. 

“You are going to see a lot of activity in the community to remind people of the basics,” de Blasio said. ” Wear a mask, socially distance, wash your hands and stay home if you are sick.” 

This week, the city’s Test and Trace Corp. will flood the neighborhoods with robocalls and WhatsApp messages to remind residents to get tested or stay home if sick. Test and Trace Corp. members will also reach out to different houses of worship in the neighborhoods to remind congregants to avoid indoor and outdoor gatherings and will distribute free palm cards, masks, gloves and hand sanitizer to businesses. 

The city will also take out more ads in community newspapers circulated in the six neighborhoods to again remind residents to always wear their masks when outdoors, wash their hands frequently, get tested and stay socially distanced, according to De Blasio’s top health advisor Dr. Dave Chokshi. 

Chokshi added that new testing “resources” will be available in at-risk neighborhoods at both urgent cares and community provider offices. Trucks blasting audio recordings of the “four core” messages will also drive through the neighborhoods to help spread the word on what New Yorkers can do to keep COVID at bay. 

Mayor de Blasio nor Dr. Chokshi did not reveal the number of new cases, positive rates or if upticks had been linked to large gatherings. 

“I would say we look at a whole panoply of different indicators in some instances it’s because we see the proportion of cases going up, in others it’s because of the percentages of test positivity that are going up in specific neighborhoods and we take all of those and create, you know, a comprehensive picture of where we need to be focused with respect to our hyperlocal efforts,” Chokshi told reporters. 

COVID-19 cases in the city as whole continue to remain low. Officials reported that 59 people were admitted to a hospital on Tuesday with suspected COVID-19 with 10% testing positive for the virus. Mayor de Blasio confirmed 333 new cases of the virus based on the city’s seven-day average. In addition, 1.14 % New Yorkers have tested positive for the virus.