Several Brooklyn neighborhoods are seeing a growth in COVID-19 cases, concerning health officials who say further action must be taken if communities do not comply with safety precautions.
The Brooklyn neighborhoods causing concern are seeing higher numbers of positive coronavirus tests than the city’s average of 1-2%. Williamsburg is averaging 2% and a section of Brooklyn including Midwood, Borough Park and Bensonhurst is averaging 4.71%. The area has been called the Ocean Parkway Cluster.
Between August 1 and September 19, positive cases in Williamsburg and the Ocean Parkway Cluster tripled, a Health Department alert sent to reporters Tuesday night said. The department said the situation would require further action, “if noncompliance with safety precautions was observed.”
Other neighborhoods causing concern are Kew Gardens (2.24%) and Edgemere-Far Rockaway (3.69%). The alert said those four areas made up 20% of all cases citywide as of September 19.
“At this point in time, these increases could potentially evolve into more widespread community transmission and spread to other neighborhoods unless action is taken,” the alert said. “We are monitoring the situation for the need to take further steps in these areas.”
Health officials told the New York Times they were especially concerned about an uptick in cases in the city’s Hasidic communities, with one official estimating around a quarter of new virus cases in the city appeared to come from Orthodox Jewish communities. The official acknowledged the data was imperfect.
A spokesperson for the Health Department Patrick Gallahue told the New York Times: “We are concerned about how COVID-19 may be affecting Orthodox communities — in these neighborhoods and beyond — and we will continue working with partners, providers and residents throughout the city to ensure that health guidance is followed, which is critical to suppresssing the pandemic.”
In his Tuesday press conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city was also monitoring an uptick in cases in Flatbush. He said all neighborhoods experiencing upticks in COVID-19 needed the city’s focus.
“We’re going to work with community leaders, community organizations, trusted members of the community to get the word out, particularly in any place where we see an uptick.”
Currently the city is seeing a daily average of around 300 new cases, up from an average in the mid-200s over the last two months. Despite the increase, the mayor said the trend was still steadily improving, and the city would combat new outbreaks at the hyperlocal level.
The Health Department alert reminded New Yorkers large gatherings must be avoided, face coverings must be worn in public and social distancing and personal hygiene must be practiced.
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