Mayor Bill de Blasio has proposed a shutdown for all non-essential businesses, schools and indoor and outdoor dining in nine neighborhoods seeing coronavirus cases grow.
But as proposed, the closures won’t come until Wednesday, a move city health commissioner Dave Chokshi says will help residents prepare.
“Closures are not something that we take lightly because of how much it affects people’s lives, whether you work in one of the businesses that’s affected or your child goes to one of the schools there, so it’s not an easy decision,” Chokshi told NY1.
“But we want to strike the right balance between acting swiftly — that’s one thing that we’ve learned about this virus, which is such a formidable foe, if you act more quickly, you can help interrupt the spread, and that’s why we took these steps that we did — but also give people a chance to prepare and acclimate and make sure they’re in the right position for a closure,” he explained.
Chokshi had one message for New Yorkers citywide: “We are worried.”
He said the steps are necessary to stop any further spread. The shutdown will have to first be approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is due to speak with reporters on Monday.
Chokshi explained that the city looks at warning levels in two ways: one is by measuring the increase in the number of cases over time and the other is the positivity rate in a given area.
He expects testing to ramp up in neighborhoods seeing coronavirus clusters which will illustrate how many are infected and help define what happens next.
But City Council Member Mark Treyger told NY1 that the mayor has been “very ambiguous” about the city’s hot spots and plans to address them.
“There is a lot of confusion,” Treyger said on "One New York."
“I think we have a bigger problem than the mayor is letting on," he said.
Treyger said the mayor’s description of COVID-19 “clusters” quickly evolved to a nine zip code hot spot, with 11 other areas to watch. He also said senior health officials mentioned nothing to him about a school shutdown when prompted on a call at the end of last week.
“Something obviously changed from Thursday night to Sunday,” Treyger said.
He also challenged the decision to close only schools in certain neighborhoods.
“I am very perplexed by this nine zip code, or so, strategy,” said Treyger on the proposal to shut schools in hot zones.
“This virus does not know boundaries; it does not care about zip code boundaries. We have a city problem, not just a nine zip code problem,” he said.
This view echoes previous sentiments from NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, who originally said a shutdown of schools would apply to all buildings and not just some in certain neighborhoods.
“It’s citywide. Most of our students don’t exclusively go to school in their neighborhood. There’s a lot of transience in our city because we have a lot of choices in our city,” Carranza had told NY1 last week.