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New York City Neighborhoods Experiencing COVID-19 Spikes May Face More Shutdowns

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Inspections and enforcement measures began Friday in areas of Brooklyn and Queens experiencing an alarming increase in COVID cases.

If there isn't enough compliance, city officials say all non-essential businesses in those areas could be ordered to close.

As CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reports, in some areas, the infection rate is as high as 6%, which is extremely alarming.

Health officials hope extra education helps the numbers come down, but not everyone believes there's a real problem.

"He is lying. Get the hell out of my community, you filthy animal," one maskless man hollered at Dr. Mitch Katz, president and CEO of New York City Health and Hospitals.


The people heckling Dr. Katz were denying concerns about the surge in COVID cases in parts of Queens and Brooklyn, including in Borough Park.

Afterwards, Dr. Katz reflected on the encounter.

"Part of what is so scary to us is we know the rates are three times higher. And then when we drive through and walk through the neighborhood people are not adhering so we know that the transmission is going on," Dr. Katz said.

Many of the affected neighborhoods are home to large Orthodox Jewish communities, some of whom feel unfairly targeted by the city's intervention. But local leaders are echoing safety precautions.

"I urge each of you to be vigilant about mask wearing and social distancing," said Councilman Chaim Deutsch.

Chevra Hatzalah volunteer ambulance issued a community alert and addressed the hesitancy with seeking medical attention, saying "there have been changes to the hospital system since the initial outbreak."

"This is not for us a political issue. This is purely an issue of wanting to save lives in the community," Dr. Katz said.

Mobile testing sites are set up, along with regular inspections of all non-public schools including:

  • Gravesend/Homecrest -- 6.0% infection rate
  • Midwood -- 4.95% infection rate
  • Edgemere/Far Rockaway -- 4.08% infection rate
  • Kew Gardens -- 3.99% infection rate
  • Borough Park -- 3.53% infection rate

"It's a serious problem and we have to try to advert catastrophe," said Midwood resident Razey Segal.

It may take a week for the infection rate to decline, but health officials say first they must see more mask and social distancing compliance, or else they will close all non-essential businesses in just a matter of days.

Many of the neighborhoods now seeing a spike were also those who were hardest hit during the initial wave of the virus. The concern now is gatherings that might happen indoors with the change of weather and upcoming holidays.

"People should be wearing masks all the time," Segal said.

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea plans on increasing enforcement on masks and social distancing within clusters.

"We will try to get some cars out there with virtual messaging that we have to remind people to be smart and sensible and take care of another," Shea said.

"It's hard to maintain that policy, but it's obviously the right thing to do," said Brooklyn resident Henry Makansi.

"At the end of the day, it's not going to go away," one person said.

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