Cuomo says New York City needs to practice better social distancing, or else

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New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, issued a warning to New York City after video footage showing residents violating social distancing orders   circulated  around social media over the weekend.

“Now we’re getting reports from all across the state that there are large gatherings, social distancing is being violated, people are not wearing masks,” Gov. Cuomo said during his daily briefing on Sunday. “We have gotten 25,000 complaints to the State of businesses that are in violation of the reopening plan . . . we have never received more complaints in a shorter period of time.”

Footage shows New Yorkers congregating in large groups outside of restaurants and bars on St. Mark’s Place in Manhattan’s East Village. In another video, groups socialize  outside bars and restaurants along 30th Avenue in Astoria, Queens.

During Monday’s briefing, Cuomo said that he even  contacted  some of the businesses caught  violating social distancing rules.

“I made a few phone calls and said to restaurant owners, bar owners, ‘What are you doing?’” Governor Cuomo recalled. “I just wanted to make sure they knew the laws and the rules. I wanted to make sure that they knew that the State was going to be sending out inspectors.”

To emphasize the state’s mandate to stop the spread of Covid-19, , Governor Cuomo tweeted on Sunday that bars or restaurants that violate the law could end up losing their liquor license.

Cuomo added in a press statement:

In 22 states that are reopening, there have been significant rises in the number of COVID cases. Some states are facing the worst situation they have encountered since the pandemic started. In New York our numbers are good and continue to trend well, but that could change tomorrow if New Yorkers let caution fatigue set in.

To date, New York reported the highest numbers of death of any city in the world, but has shown signs of a flattening of infections.

Hotspots in the city

New York City entered Phase I of reopening on June 8, exactly 100 days after the first COVID-19 cases were reported in the city. The only part of the state still in the initial phase of reopening, Phase I limits retail to delivery and curbside pickup. However, it does not yet permit the resuming of in-door dining services at bars and restaurants. Phase II will require there to be outdoor seating for people who wish to dine in at bars and restaurants.

As of Monday, New York State has the lowest transmission rate of COVID-19 in the country with only 620 additional cases confirmed across the state. In New York City, only 1.3% of those tested for COVID-19 were positive for the virus.

Despite such low numbers, there are high transmission rates in boroughs like the Bronx where 1.7% of those tested were positive for the virus on Sunday as opposed to Manhattan where only 0.9% of people tested were positive.

Communities in the Bronx have been some of the most vulnerable to the virus, largely due to the pervasive systemic inequalities present in the borough compared to Manhattan, where residents tend to have higher incomes and better access to healthcare.

Additionally, the Bronx is home to more essential workers. In zip code 10467 which currently has 3425 cases, the highest in the city, most of its residents are essential workers. City Councilmember Andy King who represents 10467, said  in interview with Spectrum NY1 that it is a working district that could not shelter-at-home during the city’s quarantine.

“My neighbors work for the MTA. They drive buses; I have nurses and healthcare workers across the street,” Councilmember King said.

According to Business Insider, these disproportionately high transmission rates in the Bronx are also driven by the lack of available housing units. Included in disparities, the communities are low wealth neighborhoods. The inequities have resulted in more intergenerational housing in very tight spaces. Consequently, more people in living quarters can result in higher transmission rates.

With the continued protests, local authorities are monitoring Covid-19 numbers.

Sara Elroubi

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