Even as coronavirus numbers in NYC hit all-time low, Cuomo, De Blasio urge caution

As we approach the start of school in New York, the city’s coronavirus infection rate is at an all-time low. But Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo are warning New Yorkers that that doesn’t mean they can let their guard down.

Concern is growing inside City Hall that clusters of COVID-19 may be emerging in both Boro Park and Sunset Park in Brooklyn, with at least one outbreak tied to a large wedding.

The uptick in cases stands in contrast to the low number of positive cases and the transmission rate across the city. A mere 0.24 percent of tests came back positive, the twelfth straight day of numbers under one percent.

“We’re really in a sweet spot now in New York City because the infection rate has been low and persistently low for two months,” said Dr. Jennifer Lighter, a pediatric epidemiologist at NYU Langone. “So i think people can feel comfortable going out and re-engaging in society.”

And yet, indoor dining remains off-limits, movie theaters are closed and the reopening of schools is a huge question mark. 

So what will it take for that to happen, and does it involve herd immunity?

“Somewhere between 25 to 30 percent of New Yorkers, broadly, across the entire population of New Yorkers, have demonstrated some prior infection with this virus,” said Dr. Jay Varma, Senior Advisor for Public Health to Mayor De Blasio.

Mayor De Blasio says there is no evidence of herd immunity, while Dr. Lighter says that the threshold for reaching it may be far lower than anyone thinks, so much so that we may not see a second wave of the virus.

Both Cuomo and De Blasio are also urging New Yorkers not to become complacent, just because the city’s numbers are low, and that they may not stay that way. 

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