COVID cases in Brooklyn and Queens hotspots ‘leveling off’, Mayor says

Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

The number of coronavirus cases in Brooklyn and Queens’ hotspots is beginning to “level off,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday, just four days after the state implemented shutdown measures. 

“We are seeing some results,” de Blasio told reporters. “We’ve certainly got a lot of work ahead but we are seeing some leveling off, beginning in the communities that have been most affected.”

On Sunday, Governor Cuomo said that the coronavirus positivity rate in COVID cluster red zones, where the spread of the virus is most concerning, is now at 3.7% while the statewide positivity rate excluding red zones is at 1.05%. Those numbers are an average of numbers from all red zones in Queens, Brooklyn, Orange County and Rockland County. 

The New York State Department released a breakdown of COVID rates in cluster red zones by county on Saturday which reported a 4.54 % virus positivity rate in the Brooklyn red zone, a 1.63% positivity rate in the Queens red zone, a 12.90% positivity rate in the Rockland red zone and a 3.51 % positivity rate in the Orange County red zone. 

On Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio said that there was still time to squash the virus and prevent a second wave if New Yorkers all did their part, wore face coverings, stayed six feet apart from others and got tested. 

“This is a decisive week in our battle against the coronavirus…This is the week where we can start to turn those ‘red zone’ areas and contain the problem that we are seeing there,” de Blasio said. 

Coronavirus cases started to increase at an “alarming rate” in a handful of Brooklyn and Queens’ neighborhoods last month which eventually spread to nine zip codes in the boroughs. Mayor de Blasio proposed a plan to close all schools, non-essential businesses in these areas in order to combat the spread of the virus.

But Governor Andrew Cuomo issued his own shutdown plan last week which called school closures as well as differing restrictions on businesses and houses of worship based on a model featuring colored-coded zones around cluster sites. 

Protests erupted in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish communities last week over the state’s restrictions which prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people inside our outside houses of worship in red zones. 

Officials have said that large gatherings and a failure to abide by social distancing measures have led to upticks in COVID cases among the city’s Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox communities many of which are inside of the state’s red zones. Some members of the Orthodox community though argue that the city and state are unfairly targeting their communities. 

De Blasio added that the city has issued over 100 summonses over the weekend in red, orange and yellow zones resulting in  $150,000 worth of fines for breaking lockdown restrictions and has conducted 1, 751 COVID tests in 56 schools since Friday with one test coming back positive.