NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio says parts of Brooklyn and Queens make up nearly a quarter of the city’s new coronavirus cases, and he says the situation has become urgent in the last 24 hours.
As CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reports, the city is calling a section of South Brooklyn the “Ocean Parkway cluster.” The city has closed at least two yeshivas, and warns there may be other shutdowns if things get worse.
There have been more than 2,400 cases in those areas since Aug. 1.
“When you take all those neighborhoods together, they now make up about 20% of the cases – confirmed positive coronavirus cases – in New York City,” the mayor said Wednesday.
De Blasio says the administration has ramped up outreach and coronavirus testing in Borough Park for weeks, but the uptick has reached a boiling point in the last day or so.
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There’s a 4.71% infection rate for what’s known as the Ocean Parkway cluster, which also includes Midwood and Bensonhurst.
“It depends on testing. I think a lot of people in this area are testing,” one person said.
“I’m worried. I’m very worried,” James Morris said.
“I don’t go out. I have two children in the household,” said Felipe Chino.
“What brought you out today?” Rozner asked.
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“I had to get some groceries,” he said.
Authorities say they have been closely monitoring other neighborhoods showing COVID growth. They include:
- Williamsburg, 2%
- Kew Gardens, 2.24%
- Edgemere-Far Rockaway, 3.69%
“We’ve made over 200,000 robocalls to Borough Park, Bensonhurst, Borough Park, Midwood, Crown Heights, Williamsburg, Forest Hills, and the Rockaways. We’ve distributed thousands of pieces of COVID information material,” said Dr. Mitchell Katz of New York City Health and Hospitals.
The city also says it has doubled down by handing out 13,000 masks, but Wednesday Rozner noticed customers and staff not covering their faces inside a supermarket in Midwood, as well as a bakery, even though signs outside asks customers to comply by wearing a mask and social distancing.
Rozner also saw a group of schoolkids walking together, as well as adults, and customers walking into a clothing store in Borough Park without a mask. She brought it to the attention of the City Council’s health committee.
“Customers inside are not wearing masks. So what is the city doing?” Rozner asked.
“Better outreach. Better multilingual contact tracers. There are few I’m aware of that speak Yiddish at this point,” said Councilman Mark Levine. “This is not a problem exclusive to the Jewish community. There’s certainly diversity in these neighborhoods.”
It’s unclear is gatherings over the High Holidays contributed to the problem, but community advocate Linda Sadaka feels the mayor is singling out the Orthodox Jewish community.
“There’s a school that got closed down. Six people out of 1,500 people were tested positive… that school spent tens of thousand of dollars on [clear plastic sheets]. The children are wearing masks. They are social distancing,” she said. “We’re doing everything were asked to do. Therefore why are we being shut down?”
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