Full scale shutdown not off table, mayor

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Empty storefronts on Nostrand Avenue, many fear they will become permanent if economic shutdown continues for COVID-19. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Mayor Bill de Blasio urged New Yorkers on Monday to prepare themselves for harsher restrictions and even another PAUSE order from the state if COVID-19 infections continue to rise. 

“What is increasingly clear is that all forms of restrictions have to be on the table at this point,” de Blasio told reporters. “I think there is a likelihood of more restrictions quite soon.” 

The warning came soon after shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 arrived in New York City and an ICU nurse in Queens became one of the first people to be inoculated against the virus–serving as a shot of hope during the ongoing battle against the coronavirus. 

New York state is slated to receive 170,000 doses of the vaccine from Pfizer and German biotech company BioNTech with 72,000 set aside for New York City. Earlier Monday, city health officials said they expect 465,000 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccine to reach the five boroughs over the next three weeks. A total of 54 hospitals will have access to the inoculation, with five of those hospitals set to receive doses on Monday. Another 37 hospitals are scheduled to receive vaccine shipments on Tuesday and two more on Wednesday, according to city Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi. Dr. Chokshi would not release the names of the hospitals receiving the Pfizer vaccine Monday for security reasons. 

As the second wave of the pandemic continues, City Hall reported the 185 New York City residents were admitted to a hospital with suspected COVID-19 symptoms with 53% testing positive for the virus and the hospitalization rate 2.73 per 100,000 people based on a seven-day rolling average. City officials said there were 2,137 confirmed and potential cases of the virus on Saturday, Dec. 12–all City Hall COVID indicators have a two-day lag–which far exceeds the city’s threshold of 550 and a daily positivity rate of 5.5% based on a seven-day rolling average. 

On Monday, state health officials released equally troublesome data prompting Governor Andrew Cuomo to issue a new series of benchmarks that could spark shutdowns across the state–if a region is three weeks from reaching 90% hospital capacity it will be labeled a “red zone” closing everything except for essential businesses. 

The warning also came as the ban on indoor dining at New York City restaurants began in order to help knock down new cases of the virus across the five boroughs. On Monday, state officials reported an overall positivity rate of 5.66%, that COVID-19 hospitalizations reached 5,712 and 83 fatalities due to the virus.