NYC Threatens Sanctions In Areas With Rise In Coronavirus

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NEW YORK – After several neighborhoods recently saw an increase in coronavirus cases – and part of southern Brooklyn was designated as a coronavirus cluster site as a result – the city warned it may have to close schools non-public and non-essential businesses if things don’t don’t get better.Starting Friday, the city will begin inspecting private schools in affected neighborhoods and their adjacent zip codes, the city’s health department said. More law enforcement personnel will be deployed to these communities to ensure social distancing and adherence to other guidelines.

According to health officials, these changes affect neighborhoods which include:

  • Gravesend / Homecrest (6% increase in cases)
  • Midwood (4.95)
  • Edgemere Far Rockaway (4.08)
  • Kew Gardens (3.99)
  • Borough park (3.53)
  • Bensonhurst / Mapleton (3,16)
  • Plage de Gerritsen / Homecrest / Sheepshead Bay (3.07)
  • Terres plates / Midwood (3.06)
  • Williamsburg (1,67)

News of the inspection came a day after the city announced it was closing two yeshivas amid the COVID-19 peak in south Brooklyn.

If no progress is made by Monday evening in these neighborhoods, the city warned, other measures will be taken from Tuesday, including:

  • Except gatherings of more than 10 people
  • Fines for people refusing to wear a mask
  • Immediate closure of all non-essential businesses
  • The closure of private schools and daycares that do not meet Ministry of Education standards

The health department said the rate of people wearing masks in these neighborhoods was “extremely low” compared to other parts of New York City.

Officials have called the increase in cases in Borough Park, Midwood and Bensonhurst a “Cluster Ocean Parkway” due to the particularly rapid increase in fares in the past three weeks. This cluster accounts for 20% of all new COVID-19s across the city over the past week.

Mayor Bill de Blasio did not say on Tuesday whether the rise in cases was linked to a specific activity or event, but he pointed out that large-scale gatherings like weddings and religious activities were still banned.

In recent months, the city has reported other increases linked to large gatherings, including a large wedding that took place in Borough Park, resulting in more than a dozen cases of the virus in that neighborhood.

Overall, for more than a month, the rate of positive COVID-19 cases in the city from tests performed has hovered around 1% with a handful of deaths per day – a dramatic drop from peak pandemic in the spring, when hundreds of people died every day.

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This story includes reporting from Gloria Pazmino.

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