New York City’s Average Positivity Climbs as Hot Spot Cases Continue to Rise
(Bloomberg) -- New York City’s seven-day rolling average of positive coronavirus tests rose to 1.46% as cases continued to climb in Brooklyn and Queens.
The city’s daily indicators showed 87 hospital admissions with suspected Covid-19 symptoms, compared with 71 Tuesday; and new cases increased to 354 from 338. The one-day citywide positivity rate decreased to 0.94% with fewer cases found in stepped-up testing. It had climbed the prior day to more than 3% for the first time in months.
Statewide, the number of cases reached 1,000 on Tuesday, the second time in the past few days. Before that, New York hadn’t exceeded that number since early June.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that public-health officials are monitoring hot spots in 20 ZIP codes in the boroughs and nearby counties. He criticized local governments for not doing enough to enforce compliance with mask orders. If they don’t, he said the state’s task force would step in and ticket people.
“They have to enforce the state law, and they’re not doing it with enough diligence, period,” Cuomo said during a news briefing, urging municipalities to assign their own police officers to enforce compliance. “We’re past public education. We’ve been doing this since February.”
Class Is In
In New York City, the seven-day rolling average is the indicator that would force the closing of schools if it reaches 3%. Wednesday’s 1.46% average rose from 1.38% Tuesday. The uptick is happening as about 500,000 students are returning to school this week in a blended program of at-home and in-school instruction.
Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said Tuesday that if the rates continue to increase in the hot spots, the union would urge the city to shut down about 80 schools in those neighborhoods.
Nine ZIP codes accounted for at least a quarter of all cases citywide over the past two weeks, Mayor Bill de Blasio has said. Areas of most concern are Gravesend/Homecrest, with positivity of 6.92%; Borough Park, 6.23%; and Bensonhurst/Mapleton, 6.05%; as well as Midwood, Kew Gardens, Edgemere/Far Rockaway, Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay; Flatlands/Midwood; and Kew Gardens Hills/Pomonk.
ZIP codes in Rego Park, Kensington/Windsor Terrace and the Brighton Beach/Manhattan Beach are seeing increases in cases, but positivity remains below 3%.
The volatile swing in the daily positive-test rate was due to lower-than-average testing that increased the chance of a skewed result, according to the city.
Sunday’s tests, which found 228 people positive for the virus, were conducted within nine ZIP codes in Brooklyn and Queens where infection rates are high, said mayoral press secretary Bill Neidhardt.
The number of citywide tests on Monday, Yom Kippur, which found 67 positive results, also was lower than average. And because of the holiday, testing wasn’t focused on Orthodox Jewish communities, which have been particularly affected.
Cuomo said local governments should close down religious ceremonies that are too large. “Those are much easier than doing significant economic damage, especially at a time when we have this unemployment rate and this deficit,” he said.
Cuomo said public-health authorities have identified factors leading to the spread of the virus, after speaking to leaders of various Orthodox communities.
“Some believe in herd immunity,” while others have taken cues from President Donald Trump about not wearing masks, he said. Some said local officials weren’t enforcing mandates.
“No one raised a religious belief against masks or any of the compliance,” Cuomo said.
The city will increase access to testing with “block parties” in which streets will be closed to traffic and tents set up, each capable of testing 500 day; and a fleet of 11 testing vans, said Mitchell Katz, who heads the public hospital system.
Officials also are setting up 19 sites in grocery stores, houses of worship and schools for self-administered tests, and doctor’s offices will offer nasal swabs with results available in 20 minutes, Katz said.
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