The failure to enforce state coronavirus restrictions has led to Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatening to fine New York City and other municipalities. COVID-19 outbreaks continue to worsen in the Brooklyn and Queens area.
Cuomo has threatened a $10,000 a day fine against New York City Hall, showcasing his growing frustration with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s management of the pandemic.
“These hotspot ZIP codes, the numbers are continuing to go up in many of the ZIP codes,” Cuomo stated.
Cuomo continued, “That means by definition compliance is not where it needs to be. That’s how the virus spreads, they need to enforce the law.”
Health officials are currently tracking four large global outbreaks in the local area. Particular attention is being paid to the two Brooklyn clusters which have increased in size, spanning the length of the borough.
In a map published by the New York City Health Department on Thursday, a large portion of northern Brooklyn is included in the Williamsburg cluster, including ZIP codes that cover Williamsburg, East Williamsburg, South Williamsburg and western portions of Bedford-Stuyvesant.
The Southern Brooklyn cluster stretches from Brighton Beach to eastern Crown Heights.
Despite the virus continuing to decimate businesses in the area, it has not stopped Mayor de Blasio from continuing to downplay the severity of the pandemic during his weekly appearance on the WNYC’s “Brian Lehrer Show,” stating that the outbreak is still largely contained to 11 ZIP codes.
“The city of New York, right now, outside of those 11 neighbourhoods — 1.08 percent [positive test rate],” the mayor said, “just exactly where we have been and very, very favourable; the kind of low-level positivity that anyplace else in the country would want.”
When questioned if the outbreak would force closure of public schools in the city, de Blasio again played down the threat.
“If you look at the vast majority of the city right now, most neighbourhoods are at 1% or less, so what we need to do is really focus on these 11 ZIP codes with everything we got,” he responded.
De Blasio’s own health officials used more severe language describing the continued outbreaks across the city when they briefed local elected lawmakers from the two most hard-hit boroughs late Thursday, attendees told the New York Post.
“This is a very serious situation and I don’t want to go back to March,” said the head of the city’s test and trace program, Dr. Ted Long.
De Blasio promised again on Lehrer’s show that city agencies will boost enforcement of the social distancing and mask rules in affected neighbourhoods.
“In these neighbourhoods, we’re doing more and more intense enforcement,” the mayor stated. “I don’t want to see a shutdown in these neighbourhoods, but we’ve been very clear now for many days and community leaders heard it and they know it that that is a live possibility if we don’t see a turnaround in these numbers soon.”
On Thursday the city’s health commissioner issued a new order that clarified and codified the new lockdown regulations and which agencies would have the authority to close down businesses that are violating the rules.