New York has seen a “very worrying” steady rise in Covid-19 infections in five neighborhoods, Mayor Bill de Blasio and public health officials said Thursday.
The city’s positive test reached 1.92% based on a seven-day average, the highest number of weeks and the first time the indicator has seen a “significant jump” since the city began tracking it in September, de Blasio said. The one-day rate was even higher – 2.7 percent.
The city reported 532 new cases of coronavirus – a number that is moving around the city’s doorstep to keep the pandemic under control, which it disrupted earlier this week. While previous jumps were caused by outbreaks limited to certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, officials now say new cases are increasing across the city.
“We are seeing a slow and steady rise in many, many parts of the city,” said public health adviser Jay Varma.
The city plans to shut down its school system, which will reopen if the positive seven-day test averages 3%. The mayor called for the indoor dining room to be shut down if it reaches 2 per cent, although the final decision will remain with Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“Growth is what worries me. And we cannot allow this number to continue to grow. We will really have to double, “said de Blasio. “This is a dangerous time and we have to take it really, really seriously.”
Travel accounted for about 10 percent of new cases – 7 percent domestic and 3 percent international – while others were traced to workplaces and indoor gatherings.
De Blasio reiterated his request that New Yorkers avoid traveling outside the state to see their family during the upcoming holiday season.
“People really shouldn’t travel for the holidays unless it’s absolutely necessary, because unfortunately almost everywhere else they do worse in the fight against the coronavirus,” he said. “If you go somewhere else, the chances of getting it back are high.”
He also warned that the city would ruin illegal Halloween parties this weekend.
Neighborhoods in southern Brooklyn remain under a state shutdown order, requiring insignificant businesses and schools to close and limit homes of worship to ten people. Most of these restrictions were lifted in the Queens neighborhoods, where they were also imposed after rates fell.
Cluster areas are now part of the increase the city is seeing, but not all.
“These clusters were a serious, serious problem and these restrictions were absolutely necessary, otherwise things would have gotten out of hand,” de Blasio said. “If we didn’t move fast, there could be a full second wave.”
So far, there has not been a big jump in hospitalizations. Hospitals admitted 81 patients with symptoms in data reported Thursday, and 27 percent of those tested were positive.
Varma pointed to European cities that have again imposed blockades and warned that New York could follow if the situation continues to deteriorate.
“It is important for us to take all these individual measures, such as avoiding gatherings, wearing masks, keeping a distance, if we want to avoid the same result,” he said.