Positive Test Rate Dropping In NYC Hotspots, Mayor Says

Topline

Test positivity rates are dropping in New York City neighborhoods that recently saw a sharp uptick in Covid-19 cases, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said New Yorkers can thank heightened restrictions and increased enforcement put in place last week for the improvement, though Gov. Andrew Cuomo believed it was too soon to tell.

Key Facts

De Blasio tweeted Thursday positive tests in Brooklyn and Queens were beginning to “plateau” but warned there was still “work to do.”

During a press conference, the mayor said city officials inspected 1700 sites on Wednesday and handed out 25 summonses for breaking public health measures, including mask wearing and bans on large gatherings, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Cuomo, on the other hand, said shortly after that it was “too early to tell” if progress was actually being made in Covid-19 hot spots, which fall in several other counties across the state, the New York Times reported.

Cuomo made a point to mention that the decision to lift enhanced restrictions in New York City belongs to him and not de Blasio, according to the Times.

The test positivity rate in the state’s most at-risk areas, known as “red zones,” was 4.84% on Wednesday, Cuomo said, while the statewide rate was 1.09% – on Tuesday those numbers were 6.2% and .095% respectively.

Key Background

Cuomo and de Blasio have publicly butted heads multiple times over how to handle the recent outbreaks, leading to confusion, and sometimes anger, for New York City residents. On October 4, de Blasio, faced with a massive spike of Covid-19 infections, announced a ZIP code based roll back of reopenings that would see non-essential businesses closed, schools moved back to remote learning and a ban on large gatherings, including religious ceremonies. The following day, Cuomo refused to okay de Blasio’s order, specifically the closing of non-essential businesses, and said using ZIP codes was too vague a way to impose shutdowns. He imposed his own rules, which focused heavily on ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, houses of worship and schools that he said seemed to be driving virus’ spread. The restrictions led to days of Orthodox Jews protesting in the street and a federal lawsuit against Cuomo that claimed his restrictions infringed on the constitutional right to religious freedom.

Tangent

Cuomo on Wednesday warned he would begin to withhold state funding from counties with Covid-19 hotspots unless they enforce the recently ramped up public health regulations.

Further Reading

New York City Reports Progress in Fighting Latest Coronavirus Hot Spots (Wall Street Journal)

How a Feud Between Cuomo and de Blasio Led to a Chaotic Virus Crackdown (New York Times)

Cuomo Threatens To Withhold Money From Local Governments Who He Says Aren’t Enforcing Public Health Rules (Forbes)

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