Schools in Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks will again be closed for in-person classes starting Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.
The governor additionally announced that the state was rolling into the city to take the reins on enforcement — using city personnel — for coronavirus infractions in those areas, and put businesses and religious institutions on notice about gatherings in houses of worship.
Cuomo dropped the bomb during a Midtown Manhattan press briefing one day after Mayor Bill de Blasio sought his blessing to shut down nine ZIP codes in the boroughs wholesale, closing not just schools but non-essential businesses and dining at restaurants.
The governor, however, said only schools would be closing for now.
“These clusters have to be attacked,” he said. “New York City has clusters.
“I would not send my child to a school in a hot-spot cluster,” Cuomo continued with respect to the school closures. “I am not going to recommend or allow any New York City family to send their child to a school that I wouldn’t send my child.”
Both public and private schools within nine ZIP codes experiencing outbreaks will be closed to in-person classes starting Tuesday. The governor did not give a reopening date.
Cuomo said that he made the decision following a “good, collaborative” conference call with de Blasio, city Comptroller Scott Stringer, City Council President Corey Johnson and Michael Mulgrew, president of the powerful United Federation of Teachers union.
Cuomo partially approved de Blasio’s plan less than a week after rapping the city for not doing enough to tamp down on the burgeoning outbreaks, a point he again stressed Monday without specifically naming the target of his remarks.
“Enforcement is kind. You know why? Because enforcement saves lives,” Cuomo said. “Any rule is only as good as the enforcement.
“Too many local governments are not doing enforcement,” he continued. “Warnings are not enforcement.”
Cuomo said that the state would take over enforcement for coronavirus enforcement in hotspots, after being disappointed in the city’s response.
In the city, the Department of Health and the state police would run a task force to issue summonses at a clip far more furious than the city has, he said.
Cuomo also noted that de Blasio’s plan left untouched religious institutions, even though many of the areas experiencing flare-ups are home to sizable Orthodox Jewish populations, with which the city’s outreach efforts have struggled to connect.
Cuomo said he would meet Tuesday with leaders of the community both from city sects and those in Rockland and Orange counties, also seeing outbreaks.
He said that he would again attempt to get them to see the light on abiding by pandemic precautions, but was prepared to shutter synagogues if ignored.
“We’re not going to make the same mistake twice,” he said.
De Blasio had also requested that non-essential businesses within the affected ZIP codes be shuttered by state order, a step Cuomo stopped short of taking.
The governor explained Monday that he didn’t feel ZIP codes were sufficient guidelines for outlining outbreaks, as they might punish stretches abiding by the rules while missing trouble spots just outside the ZIP code limits.
He said that closures of non-essential businesses are still in play, once a more surgical method of identifying problem areas is found.
Nine ZIP codes were targeted by City Hall in the Sunday proposal for their 3-percent coronavirus positivity rate over the past seven days.
The nine ZIP codes are:
11219: Borough Park, Brooklyn
11223: Gravesend/Homecrest, Brooklyn
11230: Midwood, Brooklyn
11204: Bensonhurst/Mapleton, Brooklyn
11210: Flatlands, Brooklyn
11691: Edgemere/Far Rockaway, Queens
11229: Gerritsen Beach/Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn
11367: Kew Gardens Hills/Pomonok, Queens
11415: Kew Gardens, Queens