NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — New York City is taking a new approach to an increase in cases of COVID-19. The city’s infection rate is five times higher than the state’s and that’s prompting a dramatic and in some quarters, controversial change.
The restrictions affect schools, businesses and places of worship in areas where positive tests are rising.
In Brooklyn’s Borough Park, hundreds of Orthodox Jewish men rallied and danced in the streets in the early-morning hours, before lighting a face-mask bonfire.
Images captured on social media also appear to show a member of the media being roughed-up before police escorted him away from the angry crowd.
The group also chased away two city sheriff’s deputies while chanting “Jewish lives matter.” No arrests were made.
Local officials expressed their frustration with community members who refuse to follow the rules.
“Look, we have some tough weeks ahead,” Mayor Bill DeBlasio told reporters during a briefing streamed from City Hall. “Two, three, four weeks that are gonna be really tough in this city.”
One local lawmaker took to Twitter, making an appeal in Yiddish for his constituents to follow the rules and wear their masks.
“NOT for Gov. Cuomo,” said Rockland County’s Aron Wieder, “But because it is what God wants of us as Orthodox Jews. Protecting lives is an integral part of our lives and always has been.”
The governor had described it as a “cluster problem” facing population-dense parts of the Empire State, the very sections that formed the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic before New Yorkers succeeded in bringing the infection rate below 1%.
“A cluster problem is serious,” Cuomo said, “because a cluster problem can grow.”
Even as New York City’s mayor reminded residents of the affected areas that they could face up to $15,000 in fines for organizing large gatherings, more were being planned for later in the week.