Coronavirus clusters in NYC growing at an alarming rate
The outer-borough COVID spike is growing.
New York City Hall revealed late Wednesday that the major southern Brooklyn coronavirus cluster now spans from Brighton Beach all the way to eastern Crown Heights — as officials added a slew of new neighborhoods to the list of those witnessing concerning spikes in COVID test rates.
Central Queens and Far Rockaway also recorded coronavirus infection rates of between 3 percent and almost 7 percent based on a two-week rolling average that’s continuing to drive the citywide infection rate past 3 percent.
Five ZIP codes in Brooklyn and Queens that were already on the city’s COVID hot-spot watch list — now with 10 neighborhoods showing infection rates higher than 3 percent — all saw spikes over a 24-hour period:
Borough Park’s positive infection rate is at 6.51 percent, up 0.28 percent from Tuesday’s data. Bensonhurst/Mapleton saw a 0.26 percent increase over the same period, bringing the neighborhood to a 6.31 percent average infection rate.
Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay’s infection rate is recorded at 4.13 percent, up 0.08 percent, and Kew Gardens Hills/Pomonok is at 3.68 percent — also an increase of 0.08 compared with the previous day.
A new neighborhood, Fresh Meadows/Hillcrest, was added to Gotham’s hot-spot list, with a 3.08 percent infection rate — an increase of 0.22 from the day before.
Meanwhile, Edgemere/Far Rockaway, Gravesend/Homecrest, Midwood, Flatlands and Kew Gardens saw slight declines in their positive infection rates, although they alarmingly remained above the city’s 3 percent threshold.
Those 10 areas account for 27.5 percent of Gotham’s new virus cases over the past two weeks, despite having only 7.5 percent of the city’s overall population.
City health officials also added a new category for communities with virus upticks hovering between an average of 2 percent and 3 percent. They include Williamsburg, Crown Heights East, Bedford-Stuyvesant West/Clinton Hill/Fort Greene and Hillcrest/Jamaica Estates/Jamaica Hills.
Viral videos and firsthand reporting by The Post give witness to maskless gatherings and large crowds, despite continuous pleas by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo for New Yorkers to practice social distancing and wear face coverings.
De Blasio has also threatened to roll back progress in certain areas if noncompliance persists, and even close public schools should positive infection rates persist above 3 percent on a seven-day rolling average.
The clusters — several home to members of the Orthodox Jewish community — have drawn ire from Cuomo, who said he spoke with Jewish leaders Wednesday.
“I spoke to the leaders of the Orthodox community this morning and we had a good conversation,” Cuomo told reporters during a late-morning conference call.
“We’re nowhere near herd immunity,” he said, listing eight hot spots in Brooklyn and Queens that have also landed themselves on a statewide list tracking New York’s top ten ZIP codes seeing COVID-19 spikes.
Cuomo slammed local governments — without naming de Blasio — but he did complain that compliance enforcement by the state police was not enough, and he may need local police departments, including the NYPD, to lend officers for a special COVID compliance task force.
“The local governments must do compliance,” he insisted.
“It is a state law and the localities must enforce it … they have to enforce the state law and they’re not doing it with enough diligence. Period.”
“They’ve made it worse, not better,” he said of local officials.
Cuomo has also questioned NYPD members’ alleged refusal to wear masks, asking Tuesday, “What kind of message does that send?” during a phone call with reporters.
When questioned on the topic Wednesday, de Blasio told reporters that officers who flout the rule should “face penalties” and that he has brought up the issue with NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea.
“Our officers should be held to the same standard as all citizens, all public standards,” he said during his daily televised press conference.
The state Health Department recorded a 1.2 percent positive infection rate over the last 24-hour period for New York City.
The statewide average stands at 1.02 percent following 97,960 tests performed and 1,000 recorded as positive.
There were nine deaths in the Empire State, as well as 605 individuals hospitalized, 144 patients admitted to the ICU and of that group, 67 intubated.
Additional reporting by Nolan Hicks