NEW YORK CITY — COVID-19 cases “continue to grow at an alarming rate” in 10 neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, and are outpacing the city by 3.7 times over the past 14 days, the health department said Wednesday
The 10 neighborhoods identified by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene are the only areas in the city that have a positivity level greater than 3%.
The identified areas are in Central Queens, Far Rockaway and Southern Brooklyn.
The 10 neighborhoods include Edgemere/Far Rockaway, Gravesend/Homecrest, Midwoon, Borough Park, Bensonhurst/Mapleton, Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay, Flatlands/Midwood, Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills/Pomonok and Fresh Meadows/Hillcrest.
Of those neighborhoods, three have positivity rates above 6%, each in Southern Brooklyn.
For reference, a city public schools will close if the percent of positive tests in the city reach 3% across the board.
Five of the identified neighborhoods saw increases from Tuesday’s report, based on preliminary data, and account for more than a quarter of the city’s cases, though they represent less than an eighth of the city’s population.
The department also identified seven additional neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Central Queens with increased case growth and a positivity rate of between 2% and 3%. Neighborhoods include Kensington/Windsor Terrace, Brighton Beach/Manhattan Beach/Sheepshead Bay, the eastern portion of Crown Heights, Rego Park and Hillcrest/Jamaica Estates/Jamaica Hills. A Williamsburg cluster includes Williamsburg and East Williamsburg, as well as Bedford-Stuyvesant, the western portion of Clinton Hill and Fort Greene, according to the way the department organizes cases.
The city reminded residents Wednesday to wear a face covering, frequently wash hands thoroughly and use hand sanitizer, maintain social distancing and stay home if you are sick.
Plus, tests are free for all New Yorkers, whether or not you have symptoms — so get a test, the city says.
The city also reminded New Yorkers to worship safely, and to avoid large gatherings.
“If your house of worship has reopened, wear a face covering, don’t share chalices or utensils and avoid close contact with others including hand shaking and hugging — wave instead. If you’re singing, you must stay at least 12 feet apart from others.”
Eleven new mobile testing unites will move into necessary areas, with at least five headed to boroughs with clusters.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke with leaders of the Orthodox Jewish community to develop a plan to tackle neighborhoods in the state that are seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases.
Leaders of the Orthodox Jewish community are expected to meet with the state’s health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, to draft an action plan to encourage neighborhoods, particularly in “hotspot zip codes” where cases are spiking, to follow coronavirus restrictions and dispel misinformation.
Cuomo said Jewish leaders offered several theories as to why people in these communities are not following coronavirus rules, including the belief in herd immunity, following President Donald Trump’s anti-mask rhetoric and a lack of enforcement by local governments.
The governor argued that the state was past the point of education and needed to enforce COVID-19 policies.
In an attempt to fight the recent uptick, New York City health officials are conducting new plans of action, including hosting “block parties,” which convert streets and sidewalks to testing sites and have results within 24 hours. Self-administered tests at high-traffic areas, including schools, religious institutions and grocery stores would also provide results within 48 hours, and rapid point of care testing machines would also be provided to Health + Hospitals facilities at hotspot neighborhoods.