A New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene memo reporting an alarming spike in COVID cases has officials concerned, and promped New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio to promise more enforcement.
“We are writing to provide an update on several COVID-19 signals in Brooklyn and Queens that are cause for significant concern,” the memo reads. “Moreover, this situation will require further action if noncompliance with safety precautions is observed. ”
The memo outlines multiple “clusters” with the most concerning being a rapidly growing one along Ocean parkway in Brooklyn South.
The three quickest growing clusters on Ocean Parkway, Far Rockaway, and Williamsburg, have tripled in just a short time, while another cluster in the Kew Garden Hills area of Queens has doubled.
All together, the clusters form a whopping 20% of all cases citywide as of 9/19/2, with Williamsburg (2%), Kew Gardens (2.24%), Edgemere-Far Rockaway (3.69%) and a section of Brooklyn including Midwood, Borough Park and Bensonhurst (4.71%).
“At this point in time, these increases could potentially evolve into more widespread community transmission and spread to other neighborhoods unless action is taken,” the memo warns. “We are monitoring the situation for the need to take further steps in these areas.”
The Department highlighted the following guidelines in the hopes of containing the spread:
• Large indoor gatherings must be avoided.
• New York State law requires face coverings be worn by everyone older than two-years-old when in public if unable to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others. Hands must be washed frequently and anyone who is ill must stay home. Anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19 must safely separate from others. Anyone who can’t safely separate at home is able to receive accommodations or additional resources from the city.
• All New Yorkers should get tested for COVID-19. To find a testing site go to nyc.gov/covidtest or call 311. In addition, please answer the phone if you get a call from NYC Test+Trace, which will be from a phone number beginning with 212-540-XXXX or 212-242-XXXX.
• New Yorkers should not use antibody test results to determine whether to return to school or work. Past infection does not guarantee protection from being infected again. In addition, a test should not be used to stop following quarantine precautions. If someone is identified to be a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19, they must stay home for the required 14 days, regardless of a negative diagnostic or antibody test.
As of Tuesday evening, at least one Jewish School in the southern section of Brooklyn has returned to virtual learning through the month of Tishrei, with plans to reevaluate then.