NYC schools in hot spots closed, are businesses next?

Hundreds of New York City public and private schools were closed Tuesday in neighborhoods with flare-ups of coronavirus cases as city and state officials continued discussing the possibility of shuttering many businesses in those areas.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered the closing of schools in nine Brooklyn and Queens ZIP codes on Monday. But he held off a decision on Mayor Bill de Blasio's proposal to close nonessential businesses in those areas, suggesting that the boundaries needed to be drawn differently to be effective.

“Once we have that done, then I don’t have a problem with closing the essential businesses,” the governor said Monday, arguing that closing schools was a higher priority. 

De Blasio said Tuesday that the city and state were continuing to discuss the proposed business closings. He pressed for a quick answer, saying the city was ready to close the enterprises Wednesday but needed the state's approval.

“We are at a crucial moment in our fight against the coronavirus," de Blasio said at a virtual news briefing. “We have to bring everything we can to bear. We have to be tough about it.”

He and Cuomo, both Democrats, have often been at odds over the pandemic response and previous issues.

The affected areas are largely Orthodox Jewish strongholds, and some community members have complained of being singled out for enforcement.

De Blasio said Sunday that about 100 public schools and 200 private schools would be shut down in the nine ZIP codes. The move came just days after the city's public schools opened for in-person learning.

The nine ZIP codes where schools were closed have accounted for more than 20% of all new infections in the city over the past four weeks, though they represent just 7% of the population.

North of the city, the health commissioner in Orange County ordered school closures for at least two weeks in an Orthodox Jewish community in the Hudson Valley.

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Dr. Irina Gelman ordered the closure of public and private schools serving the village of Kiryas Joel, where an average of nearly 28% of coronavirus cases have come back positive over the last three days. Statewide, the daily average has been around 1% in recent days.

A spokesman for Kiryas Joel said schools there are already closed through Oct. 13 because of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.