KEY POINTS

  • New York City's COVID-19 infection rate climbed to 3.25% after months of holding steady around 1%
  • The city will close certain schools if the rate hits 3% on a seven-day average. The current seven-day average is 1.38% 
  • The city will be fining people up to $1,000 for refusing to wear a mask in public

Clusters of COVID-19 outbreaks in Brooklyn and Queens have raised the city’s infection rate to 3.25%, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday, adding the city may shut down the public school system if the infection rate continues to climb. 

"We have not seen a day like that in quite a while. We don't want to see days like this," de Blasio said.

The city’s daily infection rate hit 3.25% on Tuesday. The seven-day average, however, stood at 1.38%. Schools will not close unless the seven-day average hits 3%, de Blasio said.

De Blasio also stressed private schools need to follow strict COVID-19 protocols mandated by the state, including mask-wearing and social distancing. If the schools fail to comply, they may face closure. 

The uptick was announced as thousands of children began in-person learning at the elementary level on Tuesday.

Outbreaks in predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods and other parts of Brooklyn and Queens pushed the infection rate up after months of holding steady around 1%.

In the nine zip codes where infections increased, the city plans to fine people as much as $1,000 for refusing to wear a mask in public. City workers were to hand out masks to residents and if individuals refuse to wear them, they may be subject to monetary repercussions, de Blasio said.

“That will happen aggressively, clearly,” he added. “We don’t want to fine people. If we have to, we will. That will be starting on a large scale today.”

Indoor dining was to reopen as scheduled on Wednesday, at 25% capacity. Temperature checks will be required for all patrons.

“We’re going to keep an eye on that situation,” de Blasio said. “If anything looks more problematic, we’ll talk to the state and we’ll decide together if any adjustments have to be made.”