'We need to get to the bottom of these clusters,' Cuomo warns as NY's coronavirus cases increase
NEW YORK — Coronavirus is rising fast again in New York — and a handful of neighborhoods are by far getting hit the hardest.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a sharp increase in positive tests for coronavirus, especially in hot spots in Brooklyn, Orange County, Rockland County and the Southern Tier.
“It’s Yom Kippur and we honor that, but whether you are Jewish, Catholic or Muslim, public health is public health, and I have no issue,” Cuomo said.
The state recorded an overall 1.5% positive test rate Sunday, which is more than a 50% increase over previous recent daily rates. Brooklyn had a shocking 2.6% daily positive test rate. Orange and Rockland counties were even higher.
The top 10 ZIP codes in the state had an average 15% positivity rate. That includes an alarming 17% rate in 11219 in Brooklyn, namely Borough Park. Upstate Spring Valley clocked in at an eye-popping 30%, and Kiryas Joel had 22%.
Even though the ZIP codes represent just 2% of the state’s population, they contributed 25% of the entire state’s new positive cases.
“We need to get to the bottom of these clusters,” Cuomo said grimly.
The governor went on to suggest that targeted enforcement efforts would aim to quickly limit the increases, whether they are tied to religious events or lack of compliance with regulations requiring mask-wearing and social distancing.
“These rules apply to all religious gatherings and all events equally,” he said.
The governor said 834 New Yorkers in all tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday. That number came with relatively modest 52,000 tests, suggesting the virus is spreading much faster than it had in recent weeks and months.
Eleven people died in the state, following a long period of single-digit fatalities.
The governor sternly warned New Yorkers to redouble their efforts to keep a lid on the pandemic or prepare to pay a heavy price.
“It’s no time to get tired, because the virus is not getting tired,” he said.
He said if the numbers keep heading the wrong way, the state will have to crack down on mask-wearing rules and gatherings of all kinds, even though he conceded that many people will chafe at the increased enforcement.
“More people will be unhappy if we’re going to have to close businesses and crack down on gatherings,” he said. “If you don’t act responsibly it’s going to be worse.”
Cuomo said he suspects Labor Day gatherings may have also played a role in the spiking positive test rates as well as the start of universities, colleges, high schools and elementary schools.
Cuomo pointed out that New York is still a relative bright spot in the nation and the world, which is experiencing a major upturn in the pandemic as the weather turns cooler in the Northern Hemisphere.
Midwest states like Wisconsin and the Dakotas are experiencing positive test rates of 20% or more, an indication that COVID-19 is spreading very quickly.
Still, New York has kept the test rate below 1% for weeks now. Any spike will raise fears of a return to the early days of the pandemic when more than 800 New Yorkers a day were dying.
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