NEW YORK - In announcing a testing blitz to take place in emerging coronavirus hotspots in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio also warned that there is going to be an enforcement blitz.
Nine ZIP codes in the city are seeing a spike in new COVID-19 cases.
The mayor announced during a Tuesday morning briefing that there will be a lot more community outreach in those areas including hundreds of so-called Trace Corps members and hundreds of additional city agency workers in the neighborhoods.
Patrols will start issuing fines to people who refuse to wear masks even after being offered a free mask and a warning that not wearing it will result in a fine.
"That will happen aggressively. Clearly, our goal, of course, is to give everyone a free face mask and get them to wear it," de Blasio said.
The mayor also announced that the city's health department has ordered non-public schools and child care centers to close if they do not follow the commission's order on health safeguards.
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The city also reported that the COVID-19 test positivity rate topped 3% on Monday. That is the first time it has been that high in months.
The mayor warned that if the situation continues to deteriorate that the city will prohibit all gatherings that are not 'very small' and businesses that are deemed 'nonessential' will have to close again.
"No one wants that to happen if it can be avoided," de Blasio said. "If it does have to happen we will target it as carefully as possible but, at this point, it is a situation that is very serious and we have to have all options on the table."