• New York City is reporting a huge surge in COVID-19 positivity cases reaching as high as 30% in one borough
  • Ten ZIP codes in the state have an average positivity rate of 15% compared with 1.5% statewide
  • New lockdowns are being contemplated to prevent the surge from running rampant

New York City reported a spike in positivity rates in some boroughs Sunday amid a growing number of infection clusters throughout the city that had top health officials contemplating a new lockdown.

The COVID-19 comeback, although apparently limited for now, is worrying because it ends the city's string of low positivity rates since the outbreak began to wane in July. The city's average positivity rate Monday was 1.93%, said Mayor Bill de Blasio. Its infection rate for the last three weeks of August was less than 1%.

The increase in positivity rates and case counts prompted Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Monday to send 200 rapid testing machines to the clusters.

"This is the point of the testing we're doing, to be able to pinpoint and identify the clusters to find where the cases are coming from," he said.

Brooklyn's positivity rate hit 17% in one ZIP code covering Borough Park. Twenty-six of the 155 people tested in the ZIP code on Sunday were positive for SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2), the virus that causes COVID-19.

It warns a new round of lockdowns might be coming to the clusters should the outbreaks continue to increase in severity. City health officials will decide on new lockdown measures Monday.

The statewide picture is equally alarming. Cuomo said out of 1,769 ZIP codes in the state, 10 have an average positivity rate of 15% compared with the overall statewide rate at 1.5% as of Monday.

Cuomo said several New York ZIP codes are responsible for the dismaying jump in the state's daily infection rate. Cuomo said the 17% positivity rate in some boroughs -- including four in Brooklyn and one in Queens -- is more than eight times that of the rest of the city.

Cuomo said the newly hit ZIP codes are part of COVID-19 clusters that have appeared in Brooklyn, Orange County and Rockland County.

"Those top 10 zip codes represent 2.9% of the state's population and 25% of the cases," he said.

Cuomo revealed the highest positivity rate is in the Rockland County cluster. Thirty percent and 25% of people tested for the coronavirus in two ZIP codes came back positive.

Cuomo said the state will immediately launch targeted outreach to affected communities. He called on local governments in the affected areas to reach out to the state for assistance.

If the positivity rates persists and worsens, Cuomo warned more "drastic alternatives" such as renewed lockdowns might be put in place to curb the resurgence.

"The key with these clusters is to jump on them quickly, attack them from all sides," noted Cuomo.

New York Gov Andrew Cuomo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pictured. AFP / Johannes EISELE