Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighborhood is experiencing an “uptick” in COVID-19 cases that’s mostly been linked to a large-scale wedding, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.
“We’ve seen an uptick just in the last few days,” de Blasio told reporters during his daily City Hall press briefing, explaining that there were 16 new coronavirus cases in the area.
Hizzoner called the new cases an “early warning sign,” as he noted that “some” are “linked to a recent wedding — a large wedding, in fact, in the community.”
Currently in New York, only social gatherings of up to 50 people are permitted and de Blasio said the wedding in question “was substantially more than that — and that’s just not allowed.”
It was not immediately clear where exactly the wedding was held or whether anyone has been punished.
De Blasio said the city’s Test and Trace Corps are following up with attendees of the wedding to get them tested and that the city is “working immediately to galvanize community leaders.”
“We need to avoid those large gatherings that can cause a bigger problem,” said de Blasio, adding that the city’s Health Department will start doubling down on catering halls across the Big Apple “to let them know those standards must be kept.”
The mayor also promised that the city will conduct more inspections of catering halls to make sure they’re not flouting capacity rules.
While the violations are punishable by fines of up to $10,000, no one will face any consequences, de Blasio said.
“I’m much more concerned about the going forward,” he told reporters.
During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, there were several instances of Hasidic Jews breaking social distancing rules by holding large funerals in the Borough Park neighborhood and elsewhere in Brooklyn.
Meanwhile, as it was revealed that the Big Apple’s coronavirus infection rate dropped to a record-low of 0.24 percent citywide Wednesday, de Blasio debunked any notion that the hard-hit Big Apple has achieved any herd immunity related to the killer bug.
“I don’t think we have any evidence of herd immunity anywhere in New York City,” de Blasio said. “We’re nowhere near that point.”
De Blasio called the idea of herd immunity “folk wisdom in many communities,” but “we don’t have proof of that.”
Jay Varma, de Blasio’s senior adviser for public health who was also on Wednesday’s conference call with reporters, referred to a city antibody survey showing that 25-30 percent of New Yorkers “have demonstrated some type of infection.”
“That is not a level of antibody coverage that we currently think would mean people are fully protected,” Varma said.
Varma pointed out that the latest information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that people who have been infected by the virus are “protected in some way for up to three months after that initial infection.”
“The problem is we don’t know how much people are protected after that,” he said, adding, “Everybody should still consider themselves potentially at risk of infection.”
The only way to continue to keep infection rates low is to wear face coverings, practice social distancing and good hygiene and keep limits on gatherings, the health advisor said.
However, said Varma, “There may very well be that there is some percent of the population who are helping keep the infection rate low.”
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