Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said city officials “failed” to contain the coronavirus pandemic, making a reversal of the city’s reopening inevitable in neighborhood hot spots.
“I think unfortunately everything from the contract tracers to how we’re communicating on the ground, we failed. We’re not doing an appropriate job,” Adams said on 1010 WINS radio Monday morning.
Dr. Ted Long, head of the city’s Test and Trace program, confirmed during a City Council hearing last week that his agency employs fewer than a half-dozen Yiddish speakers as the coronavirus outbreak overtakes several neighborhoods with large ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and Queens.
“This is a diverse city with many different languages, many different cultures. We have to communicate in those languages and cultures to get the message out,” Adams said.
Several leaders in those Jewish enclaves say Mayor Bill de Blasio hasn’t done enough to engage local organizations and enforce social distancing regulations.
On Sunday, de Blasio proposed shuttering both public and private schools, as well as non-essential businesses, in nine Brooklyn and Queens zip codes where the positive COVID-19 test rate has exceeded 3 percent for seven days or more.
He’s awaiting a sign-off on the plan from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has ultimate authority over coronavirus-related measures across the state.
De Blasio insisted on CNN’s “New Day” Monday that yeshivas in the COVID-19 cluster areas are not to blame for spreading the virus.
“I think it is a bigger issue across these nine zip codes that really have a wide range, diverse range of New Yorkers in them,” de Blasio said.
Yet his Department of Health has shut down four yeshivas in those areas over the last few weeks for violating COVID-19 safety measures, such as mask-wearing and occupancy limits. Public schools in the same zip codes have seen few coronavirus cases.
Later in the CNN interview, de Blasio connected the COVID-19 outbreak in predominately Orthodox Jewish sections of Brooklyn and Queens with coronavirus clusters in suburban counties north of the city, saying they “interrelate.”
Those northern neighborhoods include sections of Rockland County with large Orthodox Jewish populations.
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