New York City will impose fines on people who refuse to cover their faces in public, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday, as he announced that the rate of positive tests for the coronavirus had climbed above 3 % in the city for the first time. month.
The latest daily positive test rate in the city was 3.25%, said De Blasio, an increase attributed in part to nine zip codes that city health officials said they saw a worrying increase in cases. In some hotspots, the positivity rate was 17%.
De Blasio said officials would first offer free masks to anyone caught wearing none. If the person refuses, the mayor told reporters, they will face an unspecified fine.
“Our goal, of course, is to give everyone a free face mask,” the mayor said. “We don’t want to fine people, but if we have to do it, we will.”
During the first wave of the pandemic, in March and April, New York became not only the US hotspot, but the world leader in coronavirus cases. City and state officials are anxious not to see the progress of recent months be lost.
More than 7 million people have been infected in the United States and more than 200,000 have died. According to Johns Hopkins University, New York State has recorded more than 450,000 cases and more than 25,000 deaths.
The new mask rule is spreading citywide and echoes a policy imposed this month by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, controlled by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Under this policy, commuters who refuse to wear a mask on public transportation such as buses, trains, and the subway can be fined $ 50.
On Tuesday, De Blasio said the seven-day Covid-19 positivity average remained at 1.38%, while adding that this week the city-wide average had risen to 3%.
“For the first time in months, you’re going to see a daily number above 3%,” De Blasio said. “Obviously everyone is concerned about this. It’s something that we all need to work together to resolve and something that tells us we need to be on high alert to make sure we meet this challenge.
In his own briefing, Governor Cuomo said the statewide positive case rate was 1.1%, but in 20 postcode hotspots, many of which are home to large Orthodox Jewish communities, the average rate rose to 5% or more.
“A cluster today can be a broadcast community tomorrow,” Cuomo said.
There have been 571 hospitalizations for Covid-19 and two deaths in the past 24 hours, Cuomo said.