Nine ZIP codes in New York City may shut down after Covid spikes, mayor says

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, greets Pedro Garcia on his first day of pre-school, New York City pre-school students began in-person school following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Queens borough of New York City, U.S., September 21, 2020.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

Nine ZIP codes in Brooklyn and Queens will most likely shut down on Wednesday, if the state of New York approves, due to a recent spike in coronavirus cases, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday.

The shutdown means that non-essential businesses, as well as public and private schools in those ZIP codes would close because coronavirus cases are being reported above a 3 percent positivity rate over the last seven days, according to NBC New York.

De Blasio said he was calling on New York state for assistance in closing the specific ZIP codes as the city attempts to bring down the positivity rate.

“I’m very aware of challenges it will cause,” de Blasio said during a press conference Sunday. “I’m very aware for the people in the nine ZIP codes, there’s a tough period ahead, but I know we will overcome.”

The ZIP codes affected by the proposed shutdown, NBC News reported, would be:

  • 11691 (Edgemere/Far Rockaway)
  • 11219 (Borough Park)
  • 11223 (Gravesend)
  • 11230 (Midwood)
  • 11204 (Bensonhurt/Mapleton)
  • 11210 (Flatlands/Midwood)
  • 11229 (Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay)
  • 11415 (Kew Gardens)
  • 11367 (Kew Gardens Hills/Pomonok)

The closures would affect approximately half a million people. The ZIP codes also contain approximately 300 schools.

Students in those schools would be allow to return to class on Monday and Tuesday to plan for virtual learning, NBC New York reported.

Eleven more ZIP codes were being monitored but have not met the threshold for the 3 percent positivity rate, according to de Blasio. The city has proposed closing indoor dining, gyms and pools in the 11 additional ZIP codes, but did not plan on closing non-essential businesses and schools at this time, according to NBC New York.

Those 11 areas included parts of East Williamsburg, Southern Brooklyn and Central Queens.

In a series of tweets, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said “local governments had not done an effective job of enforcement in these hotspot ZIP codes,” but said, historically, compliance had increased when the state stepped in.

“NYS will be doing aggressive enforcement starting tomorrow,” Cuomo tweeted on Sunday about enforcement starting on Monday. “As we saw with bars and restaurants, when the state initiated enforcement actions compliance greatly increased.”

Cuomo added that the state can’t take over enforcing compliance in every jurisdiction.

“If a local jurisdiction cannot or will not perform effective enforcement of violating entities, notify the State & we will close all business activity in hotspots where local gov’t can’t do compliance,” Cuomo wrote.

“I’m concerned about the lack of testing in the schools. If the localities do not do testing immediately in the schools in those areas, the State will close them immediately,” he added. “We all want schools to reopen IF they can reopen safely. I have assured the parents of this state that I would not send my child to a school that I didn’t know was safe. Without testing we can’t assure parents and teachers of the safety of that school.”

De Blasio said Sunday that he was awaiting approval from the state and that the move was being done as a precaution to prevent further spread.

Cuomo said he was putting together a task force to do “targeted enforcement” where there have been clusters of outbreaks.

Cuomo said the collection of 20 ZIP codes had a positivity rate of 4.8 percent on Saturday, according to NBC New York, which was a slight decrease from Friday when the rate with 5.2 percent. He added that weekend data could be slightly skewed. On Satruday, 110,000 coronavirus tests were performed and on Friday, a record-high 134,000 tests were performed, NBC New York reported.

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