NYC mayor signals another shutdown coming as COVID-19 cases rise



(WASHINGTON) — New York leaders sounded the alarm Monday that the city, which was once the epicenter of the virus, could be heading toward another full shutdown if it cannot curb the growing number of coronavirus cases.

The warnings came as just the city shut down indoor dining.

Mayor Bill de Blasio told New Yorkers during his daily coronavirus briefing that the health data shows the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all trending upward. He warned that December and January will be tough months and said he’s had conversations with Gov. Andrew Cuomo about instituting further restrictions.

“The current rate we’re going, you have to be ready now for a full shutdown, a pause like we had back at the end of the spring,” de Blasio said. “That is, I think, increasingly necessary just to break the back of the second wave [and] to stop this second wave from growing.”

Positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the city are all increasing, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Between Nov. 30 and Dec. 11, the seven-day average of newly reported cases rose from 2,582 to 2,837, the seven-day average of new hospitalizations jumped from 138 to 178 and the seven-day average for new daily deaths grew from 15 to 22, the health data showed. The positivity rate has remained above 5% since Nov. 30.

Under New York State Health Department coronavirus rules, counties in the state go into a full shutdown, or a red zone, if the health data indicates the cluster zone is three weeks away from reaching 90% of its hospital capacity.

During Cuomo’s coronavirus briefing, he told reporters there was no region in the state that is in that situation as of Monday. However, he echoed the mayor’s warning about taking the holiday spread seriously if New Yorkers want to avoid another shutdown.

Cuomo urged people to avoid small gatherings that involve different households during the holiday season, citing health data that showed the latest cases came from such gatherings during Thanksgiving.

“The only other option you have to make a somewhat dramatic difference is to go to a full shutdown,” the governor said.

The state began to tighten its restrictions in New York City on Sunday with the complete shutdown of indoor dining at restaurants and bars for the first time since September. Eateries are only allowed to serve takeout orders or, if possible, offer outdoor dining until further notice, according to the order.

The New York State Restaurant Association tweeted a statement blasting government officials for the move, citing state health numbers that show restaurants haven’t contributed to the rise in cases.

“Today’s news will do nothing more than incentivize more unregulated indoor household gatherings,” Melissa Fleischut, the organization’s president and CEO said in a statement.

De Blasio acknowledged the economic hit that the industry and its employees have taken and said the only way to help them is to pass the stimulus bill in Washington D.C. and reduce cases.

“Look, the folks who work in our restaurant industry, they’ve been through hell, let’s be clear. I feel for every one of them,” the mayor said. “We’ve got to bring back the restaurants we love, but it’s going to take time. In the meantime, we’ve got to stay safe, because this second wave is very, very real.”

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