This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Wednesday, November 11th, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.
New York City is in Phase 4 of reopening now, which includes zoos, botanical gardens, museums, and gyms. Certain parts of Brooklyn and Queens are under a zoned shutdown. Get answers to questions you may have with our “Ask An Epidemiologist” series, or learn more about NYC COVID-19 testing options with our explainer. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.
Here’s the latest:
The share of New Yorkers testing positive for coronavirus continues to increase as more elected officials say that the city has officially entered a second wave.
The seven-day average test positivity rose to 2.52%, the seventh straight day it has been above 2%, according updated data on Wednesday from the Department of Health. The average number of new cases has climbed to 817, the highest it has been since May 26th.
As infections rise, so does the prospect of a return to citywide restrictions and shutdowns New Yorkers experienced in the spring.
During a Tuesday press conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed that city schools would close should the average citywide positive testing rate go above 3%.
But despite the bleak indicators, de Blasio continued to refrain from saying that the city has entered a second coronavirus wave similar to other parts of the region. He has instead implored residents to wear masks and avoid social gatherings.
On Wednesday morning, the mayor tweeted emphatically, “This is our LAST chance to stop a second wave. We can do it, but we have to act NOW.”
• 94 patients admitted to the hospital
• 817 new cases
• The infection rate 7-day average is 2.52%
This is our LAST chance to stop a second wave.
We can do it, but we have to act NOW.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) November 11, 2020
But other city officials, including two elected officials in Manhattan, said the second wave has officially arrived.
“We’re not approaching our second wave. We are in our second wave,” Mark Levine, a Manhattan City Councilmember who chairs the health committee, told Gothamist on Tuesday.
Later in the day, following a report that the state’s daily positivity rate had now surpassed 3%, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer also tweeted that the second wave had arrived.
UPDATE: NYS* COVID positivity rate is now higher than 3%. The 2nd wave is here. Let’s do all we can to keep each other safe.
❌ Reconsider any holiday travel plans
❌ Continue social distancing, avoiding crowded spaces, & large gatherings
😷 #MaskUpManhattan to stop the spread
— Gale A. Brewer (@galeabrewer) November 10, 2020
Health officials have struggled to explain the precise reasons for the surges, although they have blamed a general increase in maskless indoor gatherings.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Dr. Jay Varma, the mayor’s top public health adviser, said about 10% of cases are due to travel, 5% are due to congregate settings like nursing homes and homeless shelters, and another 5% are from gatherings.
“But then the vast majority of the remainder is somewhere probably around 50 percent or more we don’t have a way to directly attribute their source of infection. And that’s a concern,” he said.
A New York Times story on Wednesday about outbreaks in Staten Island noted the right-leaning politics of the borough’s residents. Last month, Staten Island was the site of a rally for President Donald Trump, who has downplayed the virus and often eschewed mask wearing and social distancing.
Nicole Malliotakis, a Republican candidate for Congress who is poised to upset the Democratic incumbent representing Staten Island, denied that Trump’s disdain for mask wearing played a role. (Like her fellow GOP party members, Malliotakis has also refused to acknowledge the president’s election loss.)
“I think it’s probably that Republicans don’t like mandates as much — that could be some of the reluctance,” she told the Times.