NEW YORK — New York City’s positive coronavirus test rate has topped 3 percent for the first time in months, as the city battles clusters of the virus in nine neighborhoods in Brooklyn and in Queens.
If the rise continues, it could force the shutdown of the city’s public school system, which just reopened Tuesday for in-person education at the elementary school level. It also comes a day before indoor dining is scheduled to reopen in the city.
The city’s daily rate hit 3.25 percent on Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. On a seven-day average, the rate stands at 1.38 percent. The city will close schools if the rate hits 3 percent on a seven-day average.
“We have not seen a day like that in quite a while. We don’t want to see days like this,” de Blasio said.
In the nine zip codes in Brooklyn and Queens where outbreaks are happening, the city will be fining people who refuse to wear a mask in public, de Blasio said.
The city has threatened to shut down non-essential businesses and ban gatherings over ten people in those neighborhoods, but officials said Tuesday they are not yet acting on that threat. They said they will go through with it if the spread of Covid-19 does not slow.
Virus cases are still rising at an “alarming rate” in the neighborhoods, which include some areas with large Orthodox Jewish communities, said Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi.
The Health Department has issued an order saying that private schools in the neighborhoods will be closed if they don’t follow safety protocols.