NEW YORK — Amid fears of a second wave of the coronavirus, Mayor Bill de Blasio has a request of New Yorkers trying to figure out their holiday plans: don’t travel out of state.
“Big moment up ahead: holidays are coming … We really want to discourage people from traveling unless they really, really have to, because right now New York City is still doing a lot better than the rest of the country,” de Blasio said in his weekly “Mondays with the Mayor” interview with Inside City Hall anchor Errol Louis. “And we do fear more and more COVID coming in from outside.”
Medical experts have generally advised against unnecessary travel, but they say if anyone does consider taking a trip they should take precautions, such as wearing a mask and not traveling if they or the family members they will see are sick.
In an interview with our partner Gothamist, Dr. Stephen Morse, an epidemiology professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, had some tips if you travel:
- Driving is good for short trips, but you should open the windows to increase ventilation
- Flying is best for long trips, and “planes have enhanced their ventilation systems"
- Find an empty car if you travel by train. Preliminary data suggests the risks of transmission on the subway system are probably not as bad as we originally feared
De Blasio is also urging the federal government to mandate COVID-19 testing before passengers can board commercial airplanes. During a briefing with reporters Tuesday, the mayor said anyone who gets on a plane should be required to show proof of a negative coronavirus test from the previous 72 hours.
"This is so smart for anyone who travels to protect each other as travelers," de Blasio said.
De Blasio’s travel warning comes amid fears the country and the city are going through a second wave — something de Blasio warned about in the interview.
“Big picture here is, there has been a danger of a full-blown second wave in New York City. We still have to keep a vigilant eye on that,” the mayor said, although he praised “real progress” in Brooklyn and Queens cluster zones.
After New York City’s COVID-19 infection rate hovered around 1 percent for months in the summer, autumn has brought concern. Lockdowns were reimposed in parts of Brooklyn and Queens after infection rates spiked in some neighborhoods. Some of those hot spots have since seen restriction eased.
But de Blasio acknowledged in his interview that the hospitalization rate is still not ideal. Although he says it has stabilized — to about 1.7% over the past few weeks, give or take, he says — New York City is trying to drive it down to 1% or lower.
Hospitalizations have risen across the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced, as clusters of cases continue in the Southern Tier, Hudson Valley, and parts of New York City. The hospitalization total is the highest since June, and for the fourth day in a row the number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 was above 1,000 in New York state. As recently as September 5, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state was 410. The high total was 18,825 on April 12.
Still, New York's overall coronavirus positivity rate remains at about 1.4% out of more than 80,000 test results in the last day, Cuomo said. Twelve people were confirmed to have died of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
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Watch the full “Mondays with the Mayor” interview above.
This story includes reporting from Nick Reisman.
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