We are writing to you to provide an update on COVID-19 clusters in Brooklyn and Queens.
Starting tomorrow, there will be regular inspections of all non-public schools within these clusters and their adjacent zip codes. The number of enforcement staff will continue to increase in order to provide robust mask and social distancing compliance in these areas as well.
These clusters continue to see considerable growth in COVID-19. Specific areas include Gravesend/Homecrest (6.0%), Midwood, (4.95), Edgemere Far Rockaway (4.08%), Kew Gardens (3.99%), Borough Park (3.53%), Bensonhurst/Mapleton (3.16%), Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay (3.07%), Flatlands/Midwood (3.06%) and Williamsburg (1.67%).
If the indicators continue to rise, there must be additional enforcement actions. For the first time in the city’s recovery period, there could be the immediate scaling back of activities in these ZIP codes if progress is not made by Monday evening. These actions on Tuesday could include:
- Prohibiting all gatherings of more than 10 persons
- Issuing fines for refusals to wear a mask after being offered a mask
- Ordering private schools and child care centers to close if they don’t meet DOE standards.
- And lastly, closing all non-essential businesses immediately
The Sheriff and NYPD continue to monitor mask compliance in these neighborhoods, which have been overwhelmingly low compared to other areas of the city. OSE found some non-compliance in stores and is revisiting any store found to be non-compliant on the first visit.
On Wednesday and today, neighborhoods in areas of concern saw a visible increase in representatives from the Sheriff’s office, DOB, DOT, OSE and NYPD patrol and community affairs stationed in the area, with a focus on engaging residents on the “Core 4” principles and distributing masks.
Commissioner Dave A. Chokshi and Dr. Mitchell Katz also spoke with community leaders on Thursday about the increase in cases and how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the upcoming holidays. In addition, the Department of Health and Test & Trace leadership briefed elected officials from these neighborhoods and called on them to support prevention efforts in their districts.
In addition, the NYC Test & Trace Corps and Department of Health have continued on-the-ground outreach and engagement with 38 canvassers and partner Community Based Organizations distributing literature, face coverings and hand sanitizer in the areas. Test & Trace is deploying mobile testing units to areas in Midwood, Williamsburg, Borough Park, Kew Gardens and Far Rockaway. To support this push for testing, a new round of robocalls were made to communities of concern and a direct mailing will go next week. Newspaper ads in local and community papers continue with a focus this week on Yom Kippur. In addition, five sound trucks and multiple ambulances to amplify testing messaging in English and Yiddish were sent out today and will continue through Friday.