NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- The city Health Department is warning that private schools and non-essential businesses could be forced to close in neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens seeing spikes in coronavirus cases.
"If the indicators continue to rise, there must be additional enforcement actions," the Health Department said in a statement late Thursday. "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 (Sept. 28)."
The department said that starting Friday there will be regular inspections of all non-public schools within clusters and their adjacent ZIP codes. The number of enforcement staff will continue to increase in order to make sure mask and social distancing requirements are complied with in the areas, the agency said.
The clusters include the following neighborhoods that have seen an increase in infection rates: Gravesend/Homecrest (6.0%), Midwood, (4.95%), Edgemere Far Rockaway (4.08%), Kew Gardens (3.99%), Borough Park (3.53%), Bensonhurst/Mapleton (3.16%), Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay (3.07%), Flatlands/Midwood (3.06%) and Williamsburg (1.67%).
Among the actions that the city could take are prohibiting all gatherings of more than 10 people; issuing fines for refusals to wear a mask after being offered a mask; ordering private schools and child care centers to close if they don't meet DOE standards; closing all non-essential businesses immediately.
The Sheriff and NYPD are continuing to monitor mask compliance in the neighborhoods, the department said, adding compliance has been "overwhelmingly low compared to other areas of the city."
Officials have been engaging community leaders and members about the increase in cases and how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the NYC Test and Trace Corps and Department of Health have continued on-the-ground outreach and engagement. The Test and Trace Corps is also deploying mobile testing units to areas in Midwood, Williamsburg, Borough Park, Kew Gardens and Far Rockaway.
"To support this push for testing, a new round of robocalls were made to communities of concern and a direct mailing will go next week," the department said. "Newspaper ads in local and community papers continue with a focus this week on Yom Kippur. In addition, five sound trucks and multiple ambulances to amplify testing messaging in English and Yiddish were sent out (Thursday) and will continue through Friday."