NEW YORK — New Yorkers can expect that indoor dining, gyms and salons will close “soon after Thanksgiving, probably the first week of December,” Mayor Bill de Blasio projected Friday on his weekly radio program.
“I don’t say that with anything but sorrow,” de Blasio told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer.
The city is fast-approaching the state-set threshold that would designate it a so-called "orange zone:" a seven-day average COVID-positivity rate of 3%, per the state’s metrics. "Orange zone" status triggers, among other restrictions, the closing of some non-essential businesses and limits capacity at houses of worship.
The city has already hit 3% under its own metrics and public schools have been closed for in-person learning.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, however, was at odds with the mayor’s prediction that the city will become an “orange zone” shortly after Thanksgiving. While he did not directly hit de Blasio during his Friday afternoon news conference, the governor expressed skepticism.
“I’m not going to guess. And I don’t have a crystal ball,” he said about predicting when the city would become an “orange zone.”
Cuomo stressed that New York City’s seven-day rolling average of positive COVID-19 cases needs to be 3% for ten days. According to the state’s data, the city’s tally is currently at 2.5%.
Because of differences in how they collect the data, the state and city’s COVID-19 numbers aren’t the same. The city’s numbers show the 7-day rolling average at 3.02%, with Thursday’s positive rate at 3.07%. The city reported 1,307 new cases Thursday, with 102 COVID-19 hospital admissions.
Overall over the past 24 hours, New York state's positive rate is 2.6%, 32 people died from the virus, and 2,348 are hospitalized due to COVID-19.
De Blasio said he hopes to have a schools reopening plan established before Thanksgiving. School buildings, however, are expected to stay closed until at least after Thanksgiving weekend.
The mayor was asked also about public school students who lack the city-issued and city-promised devices they need for remote learning.
“We hear the complaints, but I keep saying call 311,” he said. “If you need a new device, but so long as we have one in stock, we’ll get it to you immediately or as soon as it comes in.”
Cuomo in his news conference again deferred a decision on closing schools to localities, like New York City, because they control their own school districts. He said the localities can set their own parameters as long as they're subject to state law. This, however, runs contrast to what the governor asserted for months, including earlier in the year when the city wanted to reopen schools. Cuomo at those times was forceful in saying he, not the city, had the final decision on schools.
De Blasio also acknowledged that the city’s Test and Trace Corps hasn’t found the city’s gyms and other non-essential businesses to be the nexus of COVID-19 spread, but noted that the virus has been found to be more easily transmitted in such facilities elsewhere in the country.
“We cannot wait until it’s too late. We have to put restrictions in place now,” de Blasio said.
One caller, identified as Joseph from Staten Island, asked the mayor if he was urging restrictions and restraint because, Joseph said the mayor “wants to destroy" Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“For the record, I love Thanksgiving and I celebrate Christmas with my family,” de Blasio said, adding, "but we have to keep people alive so they can celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas."
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This story includes reporting from Faraz Toor.
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