Thursday, 22 Oct 2020

Coronavirus in N.Y.C.: Latest Updates

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It’s Tuesday.

Weather: Mostly sunny, with a high around 70.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until Saturday (Shemini Atzeret). Read about the amended regulations here.

As schools and many businesses reopened across New York City, several neighborhoods began to see worrisome upticks in coronavirus cases. One day last week, the daily rate of positive tests rose to 3.25 percent, the highest it had been in months.

In response, Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed on Sunday to roll back the reopening in nine ZIP codes and suggested restrictions in 11 others where the rate of positive tests was trending upward.

But the proposal needed the approval of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, and on Monday, he failed to give it.

The scramble to contain the virus in New York City comes as the number of new daily cases reported across the United States has been slowly rising, and as the status of President Trump’s own battle against Covid-19 has remained unclear.

Here’s what else you should know:

Governor Cuomo refused to order nonessential businesses closed in nine virus hot spots in Brooklyn and Queens.

Mr. de Blasio’s plan called for nonessential businesses and schools in the nine hot spot ZIP codes to close on Wednesday.

Mr. Cuomo agreed that schools in the hot spots should close, but not nonessential businesses, calling the move “arbitrary and capricious.”

He said that he was reviewing whether the ZIP codes that were being used to identify hot spots were too imprecise and said that he was considering other boundaries.

[What it’s like living in nine parts of New York City facing a new lockdown.]

But the governor accelerated the plan to close schools in the affected areas.

Mr. Cuomo chose to close schools on Tuesday instead of Wednesday.

“I’m not going to recommend or allow any New York City family to send their child to a school that I wouldn’t send my child to,” Mr. Cuomo said.

Mr. Cuomo also announced that the state would take over enforcement of mask and social-distancing rules in some areas.

Mr. Cuomo called for stricter penalties for people in hot spots who break rules mandating mask wearing and social distancing.

Earlier this year Mr. de Blasio faced accusations that the police department was disproportionately penalizing Black and Hispanic people for social-distancing violations. He reined in police enforcement for social distancing in favor of community-based efforts.

These announcements threatened to deepen tensions between Albany and City Hall.

Mr. Cuomo’s announcement appeared to be the latest episode in his long-running feud with Mr. de Blasio.

Mr. de Blasio held a press event shortly after Mr. Cuomo’s finished, during which he said he intended to proceed.

“Until we hear otherwise,” Mr. de Blasio said, “our plan is to move ahead Wednesday morning with enforcement in those nine ZIP codes.”

The rate of positive virus tests is increasing in neighborhoods with large Orthodox Jewish populations.

Sizable Orthodox Jewish communities reside in many of the hot spots.

Some of those communities have held large public gatherings with few precautions, and the city has also closed yeshivas, private Jewish religious schools, for failing to follow public health regulations.

Mr. Cuomo said on Monday that he would not tolerate religious groups’ breaking the rules.

“This cannot happen again,” Mr. Cuomo said. “If you do not agree to enforce the rules, then we’ll close the institutions down.”

From The Times

Eric Trump Finally Interviewed in N.Y. Fraud Inquiry

E. Jean Carroll, Trump Accuser, Seeks to Bar Justice Dept. From Case

N.Y. City Council Votes to Expel One of Its Own for 1st Time in Memory

The New Museum Is World Class, but Many Find It a Tough Place to Work

Want more news? Check out our full coverage.

The Mini Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.

What we’re reading

Police officers responding to a shots-fired call in the Bronx struck and critically injured a woman with their car. [Daily News]

Firefighters saved two window washers clinging to broken scaffolding in Manhattan. [NBC 4 New York]

The Archdiocese of New York criticized the governor’s decision to close Catholic schools in virus hot spots. [New York Post]

And finally: Keeping the Cyclone ready for when crowds return

The Times’s Melissa Guerrero writes:

Coney Island is synonymous with summer in New York. Yet its amusement parks — including Luna and Dino’s Wonder Wheel — have sat empty for almost a year.

Since the season ended in October last year, Coney Island’s amusement parks have remained closed even as similar venues in the region have reopened. More than a thousand seasonal and full time workers are out of a job.

School Reopenings ›

Back to School

Updated Oct. 5, 2020

The latest on how schools are reopening amid the pandemic.

    • Cases are spiking at Appalachian State in North Carolina, where a student died last week, leading to calls for stronger safety measures.
    • With virus cases surging in some neighborhoods, New York City is closing all public and private schools in nine of the city’s ZIP codes.
    • Do masks and social distancing stunt the emotional development of children? Here’s what we know, and what to do about it.

    Yet, a few dedicated workers remain. I went out to Luna Park to meet two of them.

    Jhomar “J.B.” Bennett and Timothy “Castro” Durant Jr., who maintain the Cyclone, the famed roller coaster, begin their day at 6 a.m. They inspect the entire track and walk along its hills and loops — year round through the heat, rain, sleet and snow.

    [Learn more about the people who maintain the roller coaster.]

    Geared up in their harnesses, they tap the tracks for nearly three hours to listen to a particular vibration that signals a loose bolt or screw.

    Before the pandemic, they would typically work nearly 60 hours each week during the season. Now they’re down to about 40 hours a week.

    “You never thought in 2020 you’d have to walk around with a mask on and basically be furloughed out of work because of a sickness,” Mr. Durant said.

    Both men were born and raised in Coney Island and still live in the area. Mr. Durant and his partner, who works as a nurse, are navigating online schooling. Mr. Bennett took a break from work one day to watch his son graduate virtually.

    “It’s tough,” Mr. Bennett said, “You live your life as a parent to see your kid graduate, and it was done virtually. It just didn’t feel the same.”

    With the end of the season just around the corner, and no clear guidance from city or state officials, it’s unclear when the park will be able to reopen. But if it gets the green light, the Luna Park staff is prepared.

    “We’re still ready to open whenever,” Mr. Bennett said. “Any day we get the call to say ‘open,’ we’re ready to go.”

    It’s Tuesday — seek a thrill.

    Metropolitan Diary: Night outside the museum

    Dear Diary:

    I went for a nighttime walk to the Metropolitan Museum. On my way, I passed a bodega and a pharmacy that had “for lease” signs out front. I saw some people sitting outside at a restaurant, finishing their drinks before the place shut down for the night.

    When I got to the Met, I sat on the steps and listened to the lulling sound of the fountains on either side. I saw a family beside the fountain to my left, a couple with what appeared to be high school- or college-age children home for a summer visit. They were having wine.

    They asked me hesitantly if I would take their picture in front of the museum’s steps. They thanked me three times as they left.

    At the fountain to the right, I saw another family with young children who were splashing in the water. The littlest ones were giggling nonstop.

    In front of me, I saw two empty hot-dog stands waiting for their chance to serve customers again.

    Just then, a pack of motorcyclists vroomed down Fifth Avenue, the two at the front popping wheelies that were dangerously high while waving their arms.

    I noticed the distinct smell of marijuana coming from behind me. I breathed in deeply, smiled and began to walk home.

    When I was almost there, I saw the motorcyclists again. They were making their way up First Avenue this time, the two in front still popping wheelies.

    I waved and continued on.

    — Katie Perkowski

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