New York City Will Be State’s Last to Reopen

A nurse from the Bronx's Lincoln Hospital wears a protective face mask as she picks up packages of free food during a food rescue operation run by City Harvest.
Reuters/ Mike Segar

With some New York City zip codes still having up to 40 percent COVID-19 infection rates, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that the five boroughs will be the last region in the state to open, as neighboring Long Island and the Hudson Valley got the green light for a restart this week.

With 73 deaths on Memorial Day and 200 new cases statewide — about where New York was on March 25 — Cuomo said better testing and tracing resources would be focused on those city zip codes that have seen the highest infection rates to reach the point of a reopening of the five boroughs.

As Long Island, Hudson Valley stirring back to life, focus now on high infection zip codes

Of the 10 zip codes that led the city in the number of new COVID-19 infections over the past week, according to the governor’s office, half are in the Bronx:

  • 10467, Norwood/ Gun Hill/ Allerton, 100 cases
  • 10469, Williamsbridge/ East Bronx/ Pelham Gardens/ Baychester, 73 cases
  • 10468, Fordham Manor/ Fordham Heights, 69 cases
  • 10458, Little Italy/ Belmont/ Fordham Manor, 69 cases
  • 10456, Morrisania, 64 cases

Three other zip codes among the highest number of new COVID-19 cases this past week include Queens’ Far Rockaway (11691, 95 cases), Corona (11368, 86 cases), and Elmhurst, at one point the epicenter of the city’s COVID-19 crisis (11373, 69 cases).

Two others were in Brooklyn: Flatbush (11226, 78 cases) and East Flatbush (11203, 66 cases).

As city residents await the anticipated reopening, the New York Stock Exchange has welcomed employees back on the trading floor, but not without social distancing and masks, according to Cuomo. The governor rang the opening bell on the NYSE earlier Tuesday.

“It’s the one region that is not reopened yet, and we’re now going to focus on reopening New York City,” Cuomo said. “We have data, we have tests, we can focus on the new cases in New York City — where are those new infections still coming from — and we literally can now focus on those areas by zip code.”

With lower infection rates in frontline workers than in the general public, Cuomo told reporters the virus is infecting people largely within communities of color, with community spread occurring in the home. Once the infection rate is brought further under control, the governor is confident the city can begin reopening.

Cuomo said the zip code-centric approach to reining in the virus has already begun, but will be increase this week.

“You can see that the infection rate in some of these zip codes is double the infection rate in the city,” Cuomo said. “The infection rate in the city, general population is about 19 percent, almost 20 percent. In some of these communities the infection rate is 40 percent, literally double the citywide average. When you look at these new COVID cases coming into the hospitals, they’re coming from these zip codes.”

While Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday morning that 1,500 tracers had been hired, Cuomo said the effort would be increased with the federal government recommending at least 30 tracers for every 100,000 people in a region. Reaching that level would require the hiring of more than 1,000 additional tracers.

But even when New York City does reopen, wearing masks will remain the protocol for daily living, Cuomo said. He reiterated previous remarks that essential workers have had lower infection rates because they have worn masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

This article was first published on amny.com. To sign up for the Gay City News email newsletter, visit gaycitynews.com/newsletter.

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