The New York Times - USA (2020-10-16)

(Antfer) #1




Areas in the City With New Restrictions RESTRICTIONS: MAJOR MINOR




North Corona

Forest Hills Gardens




Forest Hills



Middle Village



Lefrak City

Far Rockaway



East Flatbush

Mill Basin

Mill Island



Borough Park

Sunset Park

Bay Ridge


Bath Beach

Coney Island

For t

Manhattan Beach

any new citywide lockdowns,
which could further devastate the
local economy.
Mr. de Blasio has warned that
new shutdowns loom as more
than 500 people test positive each
day, and the number of New York-
ers hospitalized hit its highest lev-
el since the start of the summer,
with the percentage of positive
tests rising since last month.
The state and city initially
blamed the uptick on a lack of
compliance with masking and so-
cial distancing rules in Orthodox
Jewish communities, centering
the closure zones around those ar-
eas. But rates have also been ris-
ing elsewhere, leading officials to
monitor several other parts of the
The restriction plan has left
many in the city feeling confused
and divided.
“I wish I was one block away,”
said George Rakitzis, 60, seated in
a booth at the Silver Spoon, a diner
he owns that is between the
Queens Center and the Rego Cen-
He had readied his dining room
for indoor eating — more staff,
high plastic barriers between ta-
bles — only to be forced to stop
serving inside because the restau-
rant was in one of the trouble
zones. He pointed to his printout
of the state’s restriction guideline
map, which showed his diner’s lo-
cation as a dot near the edge of
“orange,” the second-most haz-
ardous zone.
The city currently sits on a
precipice, with both futures visi-
ble in different neighborhoods. If
the recent upticks in Brooklyn and
Queens can be controlled, confi-
dence may return and reopenings
would go forward. If they cannot
be, shutdowns could become more
Already, the rising numbers
have caused ripple effects. Sub-
way ridership, which hit a pan-
demic-era peak of 1.82 million on
Oct. 1, has not reached that level
again since. Pedestrian activity in
Midtown Manhattan was increas-
ing through late September, but
the numbers have been tapering,
according to local counts.
“Our goal is to get everybody
healthy and safe and then back to
real life,” said Alfred C. Cerullo III,
the president of the Grand Central
Partnership, a business improve-
ment district. “Anything that
slows that or creates a shock to
the system is not only unfortunate
but it’s scary for the long term.”
The new closures added strain
to struggling small businesses.
They have also taxed an already
resource-starved city govern-
ment, which barely had enough
people to check every school be-
fore students returned last week
and lacked the state-ordered num-
ber of inspectors for restaurants

when indoor dining resumed.
The dividing lines can be stark
between Lockdown City and the
rest of New York.
In Forest Hills, Queens, parents
protested the impending closure
of a public school in an area where
cases have been rising, while in
nearby Corona, students attended
class in person, quietly lining up
each morning in six-foot intervals.
Restaurants in huge swaths of
southern Brooklyn, site of the
largest cluster of new cases, have
been forced to return to takeout
only, while in Manhattan, diners
are still able to eat indoors, for the
first time since March. In some
cases, separate sides of the same
street have different rules.
In the Flatbush neighborhood
of Brooklyn, Lenox Romeo, 58,
struggled just to understand why
he was being ordered to shut his
barbershop on Nostrand Avenue,
which he’s owned for three dec-
ades, even after creating a web-
site to take online bookings in-
stead of his usual informal walk-
His shop is in an “orange” zone,
where most retail stores are al-
lowed to open but nail salons, bar-
bershops, gyms and other such
personal care businesses — as
well as schools — must temporar-
ily close for at least 14 days.
“We thought, we meet the re-
quirements so we should be good,”
he said. “Why are we closing?
We’re doing everything we’re sup-
posed to do. The issue is not com-
ing from here.”
Several blocks away in a “red”
zone of Midwood, where only es-
sential businesses may operate, a
hair salon lamented its situation:
“We are sad to announce that we
will be closed for the next two
weeks because of our zone,” read a
sign on the closed door.
But inside at least two chairs
could be seen occupied by people
draped in black haircutting

gowns, in apparent violation of the
rules. A woman who came to the
door declined to answer ques-
At the Queens Center Mall, lo-
cated in an orange zone, restau-
rants were meant to return to only
outdoor service. But at the Shake
Shack, indoor dining continued. A
manager said no city or state offi-
cials had visited.
Even in the parts of the city that

remain fully open, anxiety is
growing. Business owners, par-
ents and religious leaders have
had to become amateur epidemi-
ologists as they attempt to plan for
the future.
“Day by day, we’re watching the
positivity rate,” said Carlos
Suarez, the owner of three Man-
hattan restaurants that opened
for indoor dining last week. “If I
had a restaurant in Brooklyn, I’d

be a lot more concerned.”
Public health experts were en-
couraged by the data-driven focus
on “hot spot” areas — “I like the
microtargeting,” said Dr. Ashish
Jha, dean of the Brown University
School of Public Health — but
warned that all of New York City
remained vulnerable to the pan-
“They’re still part of a huge,
tightly packed metropolis. It’s im-

possible to wall off a community,”
said Dr. Irwin Redlener, the direc-
tor of the Pandemic Resource and
Response Initiative at Columbia
The surge in cases in Brooklyn
and Queens amplified questions
about the city’s ability to keep new
infections from spreading. Even
before the rise in cases in nine ZIP
codes in Brooklyn and Queens,
many experts expected an in-
crease because of cooling
weather, more indoor activity and
a growing complacency about
pandemic restrictions.
Mr. Cuomo has chided Mr. de
Blasio for not doing enough to en-
force the existing rules, especially
in Orthodox Jewish communities.
“The question now is enforce-
ment,” Mr. Cuomo said on
Wednesday. The governor said
the state would withhold funds
from the city and other localities if
they did not enforce gathering
limits and school closures.
The mayor has announced that
the Police Department and offi-
cers from other city agencies
would help monitor mask compli-
ance in “hot spot” areas and that
the city had begun a crackdown on
noncompliant businesses and
houses of worship.
At the same time, it is not clear
that precautions are being fol-
lowed in the areas of the city not
under new restrictions. In Murray
Hill in Manhattan on a recent Sun-
day, football fans crowded around
televisions mounted outside bars.
In Jackson Heights, Queens,
restaurant owners hardened their
outdoor patios into structures
with walls that, according to city
guidelines, would require them to
follow the rules of indoor dining.
City and state officials have ex-
pressed confidence that new en-
forcement measures along with
expanded testing and a large
corps of contact tracers would al-
low New York City to contain the
spread and avoid the fate of Euro-
pean cities that appeared to have
controlled the virus only to return
to lockdowns as it spread again.
That is, if New Yorkers continue to
follow the pandemic rules.
Inside the city’s Health Depart-
ment, some officials have coun-
seled broader action, but for the
moment Mr. Cuomo and Mr. de
Blasio are watching to see if two
weeks of localized closures will be
Some elected officials, like
Mark Levine, the chair of the City
Council’s health committee, have
already begun to urge more —
halting or even reversing reopen-
ing citywide.
“I can’t remember the last time
government officials told people
to work from home if they can,” he
said. “But that should be the mes-


Lockdowns Go Block by Block in Neighborhoods of Queens and Brooklyn

From Page A

Left, the Queens Center mall in Elmhurst, Queens, on Thursday. Right, the nearby Silver Spoon Diner can’t serve patrons indoors.



Tracking an OutbreakThe Resurgence

The number of new coronavi-
rus cases in the United States is
surging once again after growth
slowed in late summer. While the
geography of the pandemic is
now shifting to the Midwest and
to more rural areas, cases are
trending upward in most states,
many of which are setting weekly
records for new cases.
The charts above offer a snap-
shot of two earlier peaks of the
pandemic, as well as where case
counts stand today. The case

curves show new cases reported
each day nationwide.
Taken alone, case counts are an
imperfect measure of the pan-
demic’s severity, and it is difficult
to compare the current numbers
with earlier points in the U.S. out-
break when testing was less
widespread. But other critical
measures are showing a re-
surgence, too. And the continuing
spread of cases to new areas of
the country suggests the out-
break is far from over.
“We are headed in the wrong
direction, and that’s reflected not
only in the number of new cases
but also in test positivity and the
number of hospitalizations,” said

Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist
at Johns Hopkins University. “To-
gether, I think these three indica-
tors give a very clear picture that
we are seeing increased trans-
mission in communities across
the country.”
The rise since mid-September
has been especially profound in
the Midwest and Mountain West,
where hospitals are filling up and
rural areas are seeing staggering
outbreaks. The regions are home
to almost all of the metro areas
with the country’s worst out-
breaks right now.
“We are starting from a much
higher plateau than we were be-
fore the summer wave,” Dr.

Rivers said. “It concerns me that
we might see even more cases
during the next peak than we did
during the summer.”
The average number of new co-
ronavirus cases per day first
peaked in mid-April, when New
York City and its surrounding ar-
eas were hit hard. New Orleans,
southwest Georgia and some re-
sort towns in the West also saw
some of the spring’s worst out-
Over the summer, the number
of new cases per day soared past
the April peak. The South and
West were particularly affected.
Cases remained high after the
July surge, and they continue to

rise in parts of the South, includ-
ing Alabama, Arkansas, Missis-
sippi and Tennessee. In the
Northeast, the number of new
cases stayed remarkably flat
over the summer. But numbers in
New York, New Jersey and Mass-
achusetts, while still low, have
been rising over the past couple
The current resurgence is also
particularly rural compared with
earlier stages of the outbreak,
which hit cities in the Northeast
and then the Sun Belt.
Of the 100 counties with the
worst per-capita outbreaks in the
last seven days, more than half
are home to fewer than 10,

people. Almost all have popula-
tions under 50,000.
There are reasons for opti-
mism, Dr. Rivers said, like in-
creased testing capacity and bet-
ter knowledge about effective
treatments and containment
measures. But, she said, several
factors keep her concerned about
the current rise. Dr. Rivers
pointed to the start of flu season,
the continued politicization of
control measures like mask man-
dates and cold temperatures that
would force people indoors,
where the virus thrives.
“I think we are in a dangerous
place,” Dr. Rivers said.

300 cases per million

March 1 Oct. 13

Last two

New cases per day
(7-day avg.)

Source: Coronavirus case data is from a New York Times database of reports from state and local health agencies and hospitals.


March 1 Oct. 13


March 1 Oct. 13

Late July

March 1 Oct. 13


Northeast South West Midwest



Spike in Midwest Helps Lead U.S. Toward Third Peak


Additional work by Charlie Smart.

Free download pdf