New York City plans to close schools, restaurants and non-essential businesses in nine neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens where the epidemic has been on the move for two weeks, a unique throwback for the first American metropolis to become a model of caution against the coronavirus.
“I propose to close all non-essential schools and businesses in nine neighborhoods” from Wednesday and for at least two weeks, announced the Democratic Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, during a press briefing Sunday, October 4. He stressed to wait for the approval of the governor of the State to confirm this decision.
“Today is unfortunately not a day of celebration […] New Yorkers have worked hard to bring Covid-19 under control, and we are not making this proposal lightly ”, underlined the Democratic mayor.In the United States, the Covid has killed more than 200,000
“But in this city, science guides our decisions, and we do what the facts tell us to do”, he added, in an implicit criticism of Donald Trump’s government and Republicans accused of taking the virus lightly.
A positivity rate above 3%
After recording a record number of 24,000 deaths and chilling images of ubiquitous mortuary trucks in the spring, the first American metropolis had become a model of control of the epidemic.
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If the measure is approved, this will be the first time that it has been forced to go back on deconfinement. Governor Andrew Cuomo, with strained relations with Bill de Blasio, did not immediately respond to his request.
Of the nine affected neighborhoods, six are in Brooklyn, in areas where the Orthodox Jewish community is strongly represented and where the epidemic has resumed thanks to gatherings marking the recent Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The other three are located in Queens, including an area very close to John F. Kennedy Airport.
These nine neighborhoods have in common that they have seen their positivity rate remain above 3% over the last seven days, despite multiple interventions by the health services to ensure compliance with the wearing of masks, barrier gestures and get people to get tested.
“We will try to see if we can rectify the situation without having to apply major restrictions”, said Bill de Blasio. The dining rooms, which had just been authorized to reopen, as well as the gyms and swimming pools will nevertheless be closed there.
Faced with this localized resumption of the epidemic in 20 neighborhoods (out of the 146 that make up this city of 8.5 million inhabitants), New York is inspired by the localized containment measures taken in South Korea, Hong Kong or in Singapore, “Who handled it well”, explained Dr Jay Varma, adviser to the mayor on health issues.
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All summer, however, New York had been a model of mask-wearing discipline, with relatively limited breaches of barrier gestures compared to what was happening in Europe or other parts of the United States. The positivity rate remained, for weeks, around 1%.