New York City’s coronavirus positivity rate rose above 3% for the first time in months, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday.
The positivity rate across the five boroughs is 3.25%. Nine ZIP codes within the city are experiencing a “serious problem” regarding COVID-19 cases, which is driving the increase in the daily figure. While it is just nine out of 146 ZIP codes, it is still a “cause for real concern, de Blasio said.
“Obviously everyone is concerned about that,” de Blasio said. “That is something we all have to work on together to address and something that says to us we have to be on high alert to make sure we fight back this challenge. I know we can do it.”
De Blasio urged residents in the affected ZIP codes to get tested.
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Despite the daily rate, the seven-day rolling average, which determines whether schools close, is 1.38%, well below the threshold. Middle and high schools are still on track to open for in-person learning on Thursday.
The mayor reported 338 new positive cases, which is under the threshold of 550.
De Blasio said the city has to take “more serious action and we will be escalating with each day.” Anyone not wearing a face covering will be offered one and if they refuse, they will be reminded that they can be fined. If they continue to refuse, they will be fined beginning today.
Private schools and child care centers will close if they do not meet Department of Education standards. Testing capacity will increase on Wednesday with 11 mobile testing sites in the nine ZIP codes affected. Additionally, rapid testing capacity will be added on Wednesday at community offices in Orthodox communities.
Rapid testing will also be implemented in a hospital in Queens and two in Brooklyn.
Additionally, at least 350 people will be on the ground beginning Tuesday from the Test and Trace Corps, and the city is conducting robocalls.
The mayor added that, if necessary, the city could prohibit gatherings, except very small ones, and could close non-essential businesses again.
“No one wants that to happen if it can be avoided,” de Blasio said. “But it is a situation at this point that is very serious and we have to have all options on the table.”