NEW YORK CITY (NewsNation Now) — The expected fall spike in COVID-19 cases appears to have arrived, as businesses and schools reopen.
The numbers vary widely by location, but patterns are emerging, and cities and states are adjusting plans based on the data.
That attempt to follow the science will bring some major changes to New York City this week.
Once the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic, New York has seen more than 460,000 coronavirus cases and 33,000 deaths, but has succeeded in bringing its infection rate below 1%.
Now, nine surrounding ZIP codes are seeing spikes in positive tests, and the state is moving quickly to shut down nearly 100 schools in those areas. They’ll be closed Tuesday morning until the infection rate drops.
From the state capital in Albany Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) said indoor dining and nonessential businesses can carry on for now.
New York City’s mayor would like to shut them down anyway.
“The sad reality in much of the rest of the world and even the rest of this country is the science and data were ignored,” Mayor Bill DeBlasio said during a City Hall briefing. “We are not ignoring it. We are proposing a very tough plan of action right now.”
That plan has set the city and state somewhat at odds over the scale of the response to the increase in COVID-19 cases. Much of the country is in a similar situation, especially areas where cooler temperatures are forcing more activities indoors.
According to the latest numbers from Johns Hopkins University, 9 states, including Wisconsin, South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming, are reporting record coronavirus increases over the last seven days.
Vermont, where the positive rate remains well below 1%, is celebrating its success in flattening the curve by declaring this ‘mask week.’ But problems are apparent in many other parts of the country.
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Teachers in Chicago accuse their school board of ignoring demands for safer working conditions. The Chicago Teachers Union said a first grade teacher died from COVID-19 last week, and while the district said it’s doing all it can, school clerks insist their lives are being put at risk.
Sabrina Woods, the Chicago Public Schools district’s school clerk, tells NewsNation affiliate WGN-TV she fears those most at risk are mostly Black and brown women.
Along with closing schools in nine hot spot ZIP codes around New York City, Gov. Cuomo is also putting religious institutions on notice: follow the rules on masks and social distancing or you’ll get shut down, too.
His state’s attorney general is cracking down on New York Sports Clubs and its sister chain Lucille Roberts. A judge ruled customers can’t be charged for memberships they couldn’t use during the pandemic — part of the balancing act state governments are being forced into between saving businesses and saving lives.
“Life is options, my friends,” said Cuomo. “You don’t do this, the virus spreads, people die. You tell me which is the nice and kind and responsible course of conduct.”