Nearly 1,000 city agents go to check mask compliance in ZIP codes with high rates of COVID-19

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams hands out a mask in the Borough Park section of the Brooklyn Borough
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams hands out a mask in the Borough Park section of the Brooklyn Borough

The city will deploy almost 1,000 agents to check mask compliance, hand out face coverings, and potentially fine violators in nine ZIP codes in Brooklyn and Queens where COVID-19 cases have recently risen to worrying levels, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday.

An estimated 950 enforcers — consisting of some 400 cops, 300 officials with the NYC Health and Hospital’s Test and Trace Corps, and another 250 city staffers — will be out in the borough hotspots distributing masks, providing information on the coronavirus, and issuing summonses in cases of noncompliance, according to de Blasio.

Almost 1,000 city employees will be out in these target ZIP codes doing distribution of masks, information, and, when necessary, compliance work,” hizzoner said at his daily press briefing Sept. 30.

The mayor on Tuesday warned that New Yorkers could be fined up to $1,000 if caught without a face mask in public.

Positive rates have continued to rise in six of the eight cluster zones, that account for a quarter of all cases citywide in the last two weeks and which de Blasio blamed for bumping Gotham’s positive test rate above the threshold of 3 percent for the first time since May, with a notable surge in ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods.

The most recent numbers of positive rates in the hotspots are:

  • Gravesend/Homecrest [11223] (6.92 percent)
  • Midwood [11230] (5.64 percent)
  • Kew Gardens [11415] (3.31 percent)
  • Edgemere/Far Rockaway [11691] (4.91 percent)
  • Borough Park [11219] (6.23 percent)
  • Bensonhurst/Mapleton [11204] (6.05 percent)
  • Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay [11229] (4.05 percent)
  • Flatlands/Midwood [11210] (4.73 percent)
  • Kew Gardens Hills/Pomonok [11357] (3.60 percent)

The city’s also monitoring upticks hovering just below 3 percent in Rego Park, Queens [11374] at 2.64 percent; Kensington/Windsor Terrace [11218] at 2.72 percent; and Brighton Beach/Manhattan Beach/Sheepshead Bay [11235] at 2.85 percent.

The increases come as the city’s public schools undergo staggered reopenings this week and as restaurants resume indoor dining at 25 percent capacity today.

In addition to the outreach effort, the city will boost testing in the areas by rolling out 11 mobile sites, tripling capacity at Health Department COVID express testing sites, and expanding rapid testing at the following three public hospital locations:

  • Bensonhurst: 6315 14th Ave., Brooklyn, NY, 11219
  • Borough Park: 4002 Fort Hamilton Pkwy., Brooklyn, NY, 11218
  • Rockaway: 39-20 Rockaway Beach Blvd., Queens, NY, 11691

Officials will also host so-called “block parties” at six streets and sidewalks, along with self-swab tests in 19 areas of high foot traffic, such as schools, houses of worship, and grocery stores.

City Hall first revealed the troubling trend last week and H+H chief Dr Mitchell Katz tried to warn locals at a Friday press conference in southern Brooklyn, before anti-mask hecklers hijacked the event.

De Blasio on Wednesday denounced the behavior by the disruptors — which included local amateur radio host and rumored City Council candidate Heshy Tischler — as “personal and inappropriate.”

“You have heard all over the city, all over the country, people saying, ‘Oh you don’t need to be wearing a mask,’ or, ‘Oh COVID is a hoax,’ and I think Dr. Katz got a very personal and inappropriate example of that in what he experienced last Friday and I’m sorry he experienced that, he did not deserve that,” said de Blasio. “We have to combat that with just the pure scientific facts.”

This story first appeared on our sister publication brooklynpaper.com.