New York is seeing a “very disturbing” sustained increase in Covid-19 infections in all five boroughs, Mayor Bill de Blasio and public health officials said Thursday.
The city’s positive test rate reached 1.92% based on a seven-day average, the highest number in weeks and the first time the metric has seen a “significant jump” since the city started tracking it in September, de Blasio said. The overnight rate was even higher, at 2.7%.
The city has reported 532 new cases of the coronavirus – a number that hovers around the city’s threshold of 550 to keep the pandemic under control, which it crossed earlier this week. While previous spikes were due to outbreaks confined to parts of Brooklyn and Queens, officials now say new cases are increasing in the city.
“We are seeing a slow and steady increase in so many parts of the city,” said Jay Varma, public health adviser.
The city plans to shut down its school system, which has reopened in spurts, if the rate of positive tests over a seven-day average reaches 3%. The mayor has called for indoor restaurants to close if it reaches 2%, though the final decision rests with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“Growth is what worries me. And we cannot allow that number to continue to increase. We’re really going to have to overtake, ”de Blasio said. “It’s a dangerous time and we have to take it really, really seriously.”
Travel accounts for about 10 percent of new cases – 7 percent domestically and 3 percent internationally – while others have been traced at workplaces and indoor gatherings.
De Blasio reiterated his call for New Yorkers to avoid traveling out of state to see their families during the upcoming holiday season.
“People really shouldn’t be traveling for vacations unless absolutely necessary, because unfortunately pretty much everywhere else the fight against the coronavirus is worse,” he said. “If you go somewhere else, the chances of bringing it back with you are high.”
He also warned that the city will be halting illicit Halloween parties this weekend.
Southern Brooklyn neighborhoods remain under state shutdown orders, forcing non-essential businesses and schools to close and limiting places of worship to ten people. Most of these restrictions were lifted in areas of Queens where they were also imposed, after the tariff cuts.
Cluster areas now represent part of the increase the city sees, but not all.
“These clusters were a serious and serious problem and these restrictions were absolutely necessary, otherwise things would have escalated,” said de Blasio. “If we hadn’t acted quickly, there could well have been a full-fledged second wave.”
So far, there has not been a sharp increase in hospitalizations. Hospitals admitted 81 patients with symptoms in data reported Thursday, and 27% of those tested positive.
Varma pointed to European cities that have reimposed lockdowns and warned that New York could follow if the situation continues to worsen.
“It is important for us to take all these individual measures like avoiding gatherings, wearing masks, keeping our distance if we are to avoid the same result,” he said.