While optimism over curbing COVID-19 springs in New York, de Blasio warns residents to keep distance

Photo by Todd Maisel

As the spring weather continues to get warmer, Mayor Bill de Blasio warned residents on Sunday to continue social distancing, use PPE’s and avoid large gatherings so that the decline in the number of people infected by COVID-19 endures.

The mayor said three of four indicators of coronavirus infections went down, leading to some optimism but also caution, as officials fear that letting down people’s guards could lead to a resurgence of the disease.

De Blasio feared that with the warmer weather, residents will gather in ways that might spread the disease.

“With the temperatures going into the 60s, 70s, it’s wonderful for so many reasons, but it calls upon us to be smart,” de Blasio said.

“The police are targeting parks and hot spots. We don’t want to give anyone fines, the police and Parks Department doesn’t want to give fines,” he added. “We should’ve been the toughest place to practice social distancing, and we’ve all done a remarkable job and that is why we are beating back the disease.”

De Blasio responded to a reporter saying that synagogues in Borough Park, Brooklyn have been gathering despite the virus and many people dying in that community.

“It is simply unacceptable for people to gather and rabbinical leadership is telling people not to gather, but clearly, some are still gathering,” de Blasio said. “We will have police there and we will break it up and send them home. We don’t want to arrest, but it is an option as well. We need to know the locations and [Police] Commissioner [Dermot] Shea will speak to the precinct commander and if the commander doesn’t do anything, they will be in trouble.”

The mayor said anyone with complaints about social distancing or gatherings can text photos to 311-692 or use the 311 app.

While there has been progress in fighting the contagion, the mayor said there are still problems.

On Saturday, 317 people were admitted to hospital for COVID-19; the day before, Friday, there were 261 admissions. The number of people in ICUs within the city’s Health and Hospitals system went down from 880 on April 16, to 849 yesterday.

The percentage of people tested also went down to 38% from 42% the day before. The public health lab saw an increase in the number of people tested positive to 84% compared to the day before of 72%.

De Blasio praised health care workers and the many volunteers who have stepped up to help out at beleaguered hospitals, including Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, where the mayor showed for the 7 p.m. applause Friday.

The mayor said they now have more than 1,400 volunteer health care workers in area hospitals working with COVID-19 victims. He also praised the military and federal government for providing more than 600 military medical personnel.

“Independent hospitals are bearing the biggest brunt,” he said. “Community hospitals, for a long time were not able to do what was needed and weren’t given financial support, so unlike some hospital systems with more resources, these hospitals had it tough. We are stepping up with 600 additional medical personnel to our 11 independent hospitals and adding volunteers from reserve corps to make sure independent hospitals get the relief they need.”

The mayor also called on the federal government and President Trump to make sure a proper stimulus is given to the city so that the economy doesn’t collapse in New York.

This story first appeared on amny.com.