“I urge New Yorkers to keep wearing masks, socially distancing and washing their hands, and local governments must continue to enforce state public health guidance,” Cuomo said. “By staying vigilant and smart, we can beat COVID together.”
Once the epicenter of the pandemic in the US, New York had boasted a test positivity rate — the percentage of tests being performed that come back positive for the virus — of less than 1% for more than a month. That rate broke 1% on Saturday as Cuomo reminded New Yorkers “we cannot drop our guard.”
Though the rate of positive tests is still low relative to other states, neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn are seeing cases “continue to grow at an alarming rate,” according to a news release from the city’s Department of Health.
Public schools in the city are returning to the classroom for the first time this week, but officials could decide to close schools, limit gatherings and issue fines for not wearing masks.
“For the first time in the city’s recovery period, there could be the immediate scaling back of activities in these ZIP codes if progress is not made by Monday evening,” the Department of Health said last week.
States reach new highs
New York isn’t the only state to report case counts trending in the wrong direction.
Wisconsin reported its highest single-day case increase on Saturday with 2,817 new cases reported, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health. The previous record was 2,533 on September 18, according to the state health department’s website.
Last week, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers issued an executive order mandating face coverings in an effort to keep infections down. In a news release, his office attributed rising cases primarily to infections among 18- to 24-year-olds and said the state was “facing a new and dangerous phase” of the pandemic.
“We need your help to stop the spread of this virus, and we all have to do this together,” Evers said.
Meanwhile, cases in Florida have exceeded 700,000, though it is one of 10 states reporting fewer new cases this week compared to last. It is joined by Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.
The number of new cases reported is holding stead in 19 states. Twenty-one are seeing more new cases reported than last week: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington state, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Authorities break up large gatherings
To avoid another surge, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci stressed masking, distancing and avoiding crowds. But authorities have had to intervene as some continue to gather in large groups.
On Friday evening, New York City Sheriff’s Office deputies broke up a wedding of about 300 people in Queens, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office told CNN. Both the owner and manager of the venue were issued appearance tickets for multiple misdemeanor offenses.
Weddings and other large social gatherings have been the origin of several outbreaks in coronavirus cases in recent months, and authorities have turned their attention to deterring these events and enforcing measures against them.
A Maryland man was sentenced to a year imprisonment Friday after holding two large parties in late March against the state’s social distancing rules, which had banned gatherings of more than 10 people, according to the office of Gov. Larry Hogan.
The man became argumentative after he was told to disband his first party of about 50 people, the state’s attorney’s office said. And five days later, he held a second party of more than 50 people which he refused to end, saying they had a right to congregate and directing his guests to stay, according to a news release.
CNN’s Laura Ly, Sheena Jones, Anna Sturla, Dakin Andone, and Chuck Johnston contributed to this report.