After becoming a national symbol of the coronavirus pandemic in the spring, New York City has prided itself on achieving a consistently low infection rate and gradually restoring normalcy. However, certain areas of Brooklyn and Queens recently rose above a 3 percent positive rate for more than seven consecutive days.
This triggered red flags and alarms in New York’s tiered infection control system, resulting in NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio seeking permission from the state to take aggressive preventative action.
Non-Essential Businesses and Schools Will Close
If approved, all non-essential businesses, as well as all public and private schools, will close on Wednesday, October 7 until further notice. This would affect about 100 public schools and 200 non-public schools. Restaurants will also be restricted to take-out and delivery orders only.
According to de Blasio, the shutdown will last two to four weeks, depending on the success of efforts to lower the positivity rate and contain the clusters of outbreak.
“This was not an easy choice to make, and let me be clear: we haven’t seen any issues in these schools. We must, however, be proactive about the safety and health of New Yorkers,” de Blasio said. “This is out of an abundance of caution and in coordination with a larger strategy that mirrors what we did successfully in the spring of a larger shutdown to make ensure we stopped the spread.”
11 Other Zip Codes On the Brink
Though only 9 zip codes are affected by de Blasio’s recent announcement, 11 other zip codes are being watched carefully as their infection rates creep closer to 3%. Though those zip codes will likely be instructed to close indoor dining, gyms, and pools, schools and other businesses can remain open unless the infection rate increases in the coming days and weeks.
Guidelines for Reopening Amid COVID Spikes
Mayor de Blasio has outlined the threshold for zip codes to reopen once again from their autumn shutdowns. Zip codes must meet one of the following requirements:
- At least 14 days of PAUSE with less than 3% positivity (over a 14-day average) for the last 7 consecutive days
- At least 28 days of PAUSE with less than 3% positivity (over a 14-day average) at the end of PAUSE
Governor Andrew Cuomo has warned residents to take their return to the quarantine-era PAUSE guidelines seriously. “Local businesses that are in violation of the law will be fined and can be closed, just like bars and restaurants,” he reminded.
Only time will tell whether other areas of New York will join the nine zip codes in Queens and Brooklyn returning to spring shutdown rules.
“We are waiting for the state’s approval and support before we move forward,” de Blasio reiterated during his announcement on October 4. “This is an action being taken out of an abundance of caution.”