Oct. 4 (UPI) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday that non-essential businesses, public and private schools in areas most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic will close Wednesday pending state approval.
The mayor said the closures will affect nine ZIP codes in Brooklyn and Queens with above 3% COVID-19 positivity test rates for at least seven consecutive days, adding that 11 other ZIP codes in the city that have not yet reached 3% positivity rate could face their own restrictions.
“This was not an easy choice to make, and let me be clear: we haven’t seen any issues in these schools. We must, however, be proactive about the safety and health of New Yorkers,” said de Blasio. “This is out of an abundance of caution and in coordination with a larger strategy that mirrors what we did successfully in the spring of a larger shutdown to make sure we stopped the spread.”
The announcement came as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the state reported 1,222 positive cases, with 22% coming from 20 “hotspot ZIP codes,” bringing its case total to 464,582 — fourth-highest in the nation. The state also recorded 14 new deaths for the nation’s highest death toll at 25,519 of confirmed cases and 33,205 including probable deaths.
Cuomo on Sunday said that the state would begin “aggressive enforcement” of COVID-19 restrictions beginning Monday.
“I’m concerned about the lack of testing in the schools. If the localities do not do testing immediately in the schools in those areas, the state will close them immediately,” Cuomo wrote on Twitter.
Nationwide, the United States has reported world-leading a total of cases at 7,403,437 cases — including President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump and about a dozen people linked to events at the White House within the past week — as well as a death toll of 209,668 deaths, according to data collected by John’s Hopkins University.
Doctors on Sunday said Trump, who often downplayed the threat of the virus, was continuing to recover and could be discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as early as Monday, despite acknowledging his blood oxygen levels dropped twice since Friday.
California reported 4,293 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing its nation-leading total to 823,729. The state also added 46 deaths, raising its death toll to 16,120 — third in the nation, ahead of New Jersey’s 16,135.
As of Saturday, Texas had reported 763,010 cases and 15,992 fatalities, placing it at fourth in the nation in both categories.
Florida added 1,868 COVID-19 cases on Sunday for the third-highest total in the United States at 716,459 and reported 42 more deaths for a death toll of 14,671.
Georgia tallied 880 new cases Sunday for the nation’s fifth-highest total at 322,925, it also reported 28 new deaths and a death toll of 7,162 — ninth in the United States.
Only Texas, Missouri and South Carolina had reported decreasing case totals compared to the previous week as of Saturday, while Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming all reported increases in new cases, according to CNN.