On Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered new restrictions on COVID-19 hot spots in New York City, including the closure of all private and public schools in the nine city ZIP codes with upticks in coronavirus transmissions.
Isaac Weisfuse is a medical epidemiologist at Cornell University and was a deputy commissioner of health for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene where his responsibilities included the control of infectious diseases in New York City, and public health emergency preparedness and response. He says the restrictions are a wise decision to stop the spread of coronavirus but is concerned the interventions may be too late.
“We are at a pivotal moment in NYC's fight against coronavirus. In the past several weeks we've seen infection rates climb in parts of Brooklyn and Queens. This threatens the hard-won gains of last spring and summer.
“The Mayor and the Governor recently agreed to close all schools in these neighborhoods. This was a wise decision as transmission within crowded schools will happen, even with the best of intentions.
“The Jewish holidays, where people typically crowd together when praying, and visit relatives will also offer opportunities for spread of the virus. Because these holidays are upon us, there is an urgent need for universal mask wearing and social distancing in all houses of worship. Unfortunately, several holidays have come and gone in the past several weeks, so we may be seeing even larger infection rates in the near future.
“We know that these interventions work to stop the spread of the virus. The question is did we implement them too late?”