Nine ZIP codes in the Brooklyn and Queens boroughs of New York City will most likely shut down Wednesday, if the state approves, because of a recent spike in the number of coronavirus cases, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday.
The shutdown would mean that nonessential businesses in those ZIP codes, as well as public and private schools, would close because coronavirus cases are being reported above a 3 percent positivity rate over the last seven days, NBC New York reported.
De Blasio said he was calling on the state for assistance in closing the specific ZIP codes as the city tries to bring down the positivity rate.
"I'm very aware of challenges it will cause," de Blasio said at a news 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)
11229 (Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay)
11415 (Kew Gardens)
11367 (Kew Gardens Hills/Pomonok)
The closings would affect about half a million people.
The ZIP codes are also home to about 300 schools. Students in those schools would be allow to return to class 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, de Blasio said. The city has proposed closing indoor dining, gyms and pools in the additional ZIP codes, but it does not plan to close nonessential businesses and schools at this time, NBC New York reported.
The 11 areas included parts of East Williamsburg, Southern Brooklyn and Central Queens.
In a series of tweets, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that "local governments had not done an effective job of enforcement in these hotspot ZIP codes" but that, historically, compliance had increased when the state stepped in.
"NYS will be doing aggressive enforcement starting tomorrow," Cuomo tweeted Sunday. "As we saw with bars and restaurants, when the state initiated enforcement actions compliance greatly increased."
Cuomo added that the state cannot 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 a precaution to prevent further spread of the virus.
Cuomo said he was putting together a task force to implement "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 Saturday, NBC New York reported, which was a slight decrease from Friday, when the rate was 5.2 percent. He said weekend data could be slightly skewed. On Saturday, 110,000 coronavirus tests were performed, and on Friday a record 134,000 tests were performed, NBC New York reported.