NEW YORK – New York City’s positive coronavirus test rate surpassed 3 percent for the first time in months as the city battles virus clusters in nine boroughs in Brooklyn and Queens.
If the surge continues, it could force the closure of the city’s public school system, which only reopened Tuesday for personal education in elementary school. There is also a day before indoor dining is scheduled to reopen in town.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city’s daily rate hit 3.25 percent on Tuesday. On an average of seven days, the rate is 1.38 percent. The city will close schools when the rate hits 3 percent on an average of seven days.
“We haven’t seen a day like this for a while. We don’t want to see days like this again,” said de Blasio.
In the nine Brooklyn and Queens zip codes where outbreaks occur, the city will punish people who refuse to wear masks in public, de Blasio said.
The city has threatened to close non-essential stores and ban gatherings of more than ten people in those neighborhoods, but officials said Tuesday they are not yet responding to the threat. They said they could deal with it if the spread of Covid-19 doesn’t slow down.
Health commissioner Dave Chokshi said virus cases are still increasing at an “alarming rate” in neighborhoods that include some areas with large Orthodox Jewish communities.
The health department has ordered private schools in the neighborhood to be closed if they fail to follow safety protocols.