A new wave of coronavirus cases in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens along with other nearby communities has prompted officials to consider more school closures just days after reopening.
The daily rate of infection skyrocketed from 1.93% just a day before, to 3.25% on Tuesday, the highest since June, Mayor Bill de Blasio, D-N.Y., said during a news conference.
The alarming numbers come after numerous false starts on reopening as well as threats by the teacher's union to strike over members' claims that their schools are ill-equipped, with outdated ventilation systems and insufficient numbers of school nurses to ensure students and faculty remain safe.
Students were originally due back in the classroom on Sept. 10.
The mayor said that if the seven-day average remained above 3%, schools would be forced to shut down again.
“That is cause for real concern,” he said.
The large clusters of infections have been linked to Orthodox Jewish communities, which have congregated en masse for religious and social gatherings. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y, said Tuesday he would meet with religious leaders to impress on them the importance of following social distancing guidelines and wearing masks.
"These public health rules apply to every religious community ... I happen to be Roman Catholic, and I had to cancel the St. Patrick’s Day Parade," Cuomo said.
The governor urged local officials to clamp down on health safety enforcement in their communities to quell the spread of the virus, which has been brought largely under control in a city that was once considered the pandemic's epicenter.
"I don't believe we're at the point of rolling back anything," Cuomo said when asked if a new wave of closures was imminent. "This could be held to clusters if the local governments respond and respond in a better way than they have up until now."
The mayor announced law enforcement would be fining anyone not wearing a mask in public.