NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — In a major reversal of course, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday he has proposed to the state a plan to shut down schools and nonessential businesses in nine zip codes that have reported coronavirus positivity rates above 3% for more than a week.
The city-wide positive test rate over the last week is 1.72%, but some of those zip codes are seeing double, even quadruple that, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported
The mayor is calling the move a “Neighborhood Rewind.” Starting Wednesday, pending state approval, the plan is to close nonessential businesses in those zip codes and only have restaurants offer takeout and delivery.
“It pains me to be putting forward this approach that we’ll need. But, in some parts of our city, in Brooklyn and Queens, we’re having extraordinary problems. Something we haven’t seen since the spring,” de Blasio said.
If the state approves the mayor’s plan, the shutdown would impact these neighborhoods:
- Borough Park (zip code 11219)
- Gravesend/Homecrest (11223)
- Midwood (11230)
- Bensonhurst/Mapleton (11204)
- Flatlands/Midwood (11210)
- Edgemere/Far Rockaway (11691)
- Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay (11229)
- Kew Gardens Hills/Pomonok (11367)
- Key Gardens (11415)
“I definitely agree with the mayor’s decision to shut down,” Borough Park resident Amrana Malik said. “There are signs up everywhere, but there’s no social distancing going on in stores.”
“Yes, the mayor should lock it down and put a curfew,” another resident said.
About 100 public schools and 200 private schools would have to close. Indoor dining, which just resumed a few days ago, would be suspended. Gyms would also close.
“We do not see a nexus to the public schools. This is an action being taken out of an abundance of caution,” de Blasio said.
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New York City’s teacher’s union had been demanding that the city close public schools in the handful of neighborhoods where the virus was spreading fast.
“Why would you put all the schools at risk when you can isolate and be safe and do it the right way?” United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew told CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez. “He did the right thing today. I just wish it wouldn’t have taken a week of consternation. But now it really comes down to what is Albany saying.”
“I’m relieved that we’re getting the message out, but it also is really sad that it takes like a lot of people getting sick and people dying in Brooklyn of COVID to make this happen,” teacher Sarah Yorra said.
Yorra said she also worries many students aren’t equipped with the technology to go fully remote.
“We killed ourselves trying to create normal school in the middle of a pandemic and then it all fell apart in the last minute and parents are really upset,” she said. “Everyone feels really jerked around, and the kids who really need support aren’t getting it.”
Parent Cynthia Vacca agreed with that sentiment.
“For me. it doesn’t make sense, because even you have kids who go from one zone to another, who come in from Manhattan to Brooklyn to go to school, no one is benefiting from this roller coaster ride. I mean, the kids, especially, are suffering,” Vacca said.
Additionally, the mayor said action would be taken in areas of concern that have not yet reached a 3% positivity rate for seven straight days.
- Bedford-Stuyvesant (West)/Clinton Hill/Fort Green (zip code 11205)
- East Williamsburg/Williamsburg (11211/11249)
- Brighton Beach/Manhattan Beach/Sheepshead Bay (11235)
- Bergen Beach/Flatlands/Marine Park/Mill Basin (11234)
- Crown Heights (East) 11213
- Kensington/Windsor Terrace (11218)
- Rego Park (11374)
- Fresh Meadows/Hillcrest (11366)
- Hillcrest/Jamaica Estates/Jamaica Hills (11432)
- Auburndale/Fresh Meadows/Pomonok/Utopia (11365)
Neighborhoods would be allowed to reopen at least 14 days after the shutdown if they can report a less than 3% COVID-19 positivity rate for seven days in a row.
Nearly 1,100 people have tested positive in Brooklyn in just the last four days, according to state figures.
De Blasio made the announcement shortly after Gov. Andrew Cuomo complained that local governments with coronavirus hot spots had “not done an effective job” of enforcing social distancing rules.
By phone Sunday, the governor told Rozner, “We’re going to be increasing the state’s enforcement, itself. Starting (Monday), local businesses that are in violation of the law will be fined and can be closed. Just like the bars and restaurants.”
As for gatherings at churches and synagogues, a spokesperson for the mayor tweeted Sunday, “A federal court order requires that we keep houses of worship open, but limit them to a maximum capacity by 50%. Additionally, we will only allow individual worship, but not congregate or group services.”
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(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)