As the Trump administration ignores five straight days of new coronavirus infections topping 100,000 daily cases, New York City has largely avoided the nation’s fall surge, outside of hot spots in south Brooklyn, where in-person classes were closed in schools in nine zip codes in September.
But with infections rising aggressively in the early days of November, Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that the city is on the precipice of a second coronavirus wave. “It is getting dangerously close,” he said on Tuesday, adding that a continued surge in cases could lead to “a lot more restrictions. Unfortunately, it could mean even having to shut down parts of our economy again.”
In early October, New York City averaged around 500 to 700 new COVID cases per day. That number has now risen to over 1,000 cases per day over the last five days, a level that hasn’t been seen since May, according to the New York Times. Thankfully, both hospitalizations and deaths remain considerably lower than they did this spring; the actual caseload may also be lower now than in May, due to the expansion of testing over the past six months.
On Tuesday, de Blasio stated that he is watching three factors to determine if the city is facing a “full-blown second wave,” including the total number of cases, the number of hospitalizations, and the positive testing rate. The mayor has indicated that if that rate goes above 3 percent “on a sustained basis,” schools would suspend in-person classes. Over the past week, the average has been 2.26 percent of cases, and due to decreasing positive-test rates in some neighborhoods in south Brooklyn, 23 schools will reopen on Thursday.
If the testing rate, hospitalizations, and total cases continue to rise, de Blasio is reportedly planning on closing many nonessential businesses, though on Monday he said that it was only time to “re-evaluate” the restricted indoor dining currently allowed throughout the city. The mayor is expected to be far more proactive during the winter months of the pandemic than he was last spring, when he encouraged New Yorkers to keep going out to bars until mid-March. Unfortunately, the disastrous delays caused by sparring between de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo over the city’s closing and opening is likely to continue.
New York City isn’t the only area in the region readying for a surge in cases. Across the Hudson, Governor Phil Murphy ordered that New Jersey’s bars and restaurants must close indoor activities by 10 p.m. as of Thursday.