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In NYC, a 'Most Precarious Moment' in the COVID Timeline

Parts of Queens, Brooklyn are seeing spike in cases; health dept. warns of possible shutdowns
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 26, 2020 9:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – New York City has been slowly reopening since June, with schools set to welcome back many in-person students next week and restaurants opening for indoor dining at the end of September, per Gothamist. But despite this staggered return to some form of normality, certain parts of the city are now being eyed for possible new shutdowns due to a flouting of COVID-19 health guidelines. In particular, city officials say there's been a concerning uptick in virus cases in sections of Queens and Brooklyn, where positivity rates have reached 6%—a significant difference from the 1% to 2% rate most of the city is seeing, NBC New York and the New York Times report. "This may be the most precarious moment we are facing since we emerged from lockdown," Dr. Dave Chokshi, the city's health commissioner, said at a Brooklyn presser on Friday. Many of the areas with spikes are neighborhoods with large populations of Orthodox Jews, where many don't wear face masks or do social distancing.

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The Times notes there's also a deep general distrust among Hasidic Jews toward Mayor Bill de Blasio, and an alignment with President Trump and his attitudes on mask wearing. The city's health department says if these areas don't start adhering to the health guidelines by Monday, fines may be issued, schools and businesses may be closed, and gatherings may be limited. Meanwhile, a study from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and the city's health department has found that New York City's lockdown from March through June, including school shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, led to a 70% decrease in the spread of the coronavirus. The research, was has yet to be peer reviewed, also found the use of face masks led to a 7% dip in transmission during the first month of their mandated use. That drop was up to 20% in adults 65 and older, the Washington Post notes. (Read more New York City stories.)

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