In his daily briefing on Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that six neighborhoods will be subject to a hyperlocal testing and tracing effort on account of an uptick in positive cases. Coinciding with the week between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, these locations are identified with Orthodox Jews: Borough Park, Midwood, Flatbush, Williamsburg, Far Rockaway, and Kew Gardens.

“We’re going to see expanded community outreach efforts in some neighborhoods where we are seeing some upticks. We need to apply a lot of energy and focus to these areas,” he said. “You’re going to see a lot of activity in the community to remind people of the basics, how important it is what we call the core four things that you can do. That makes such a difference: Wear a mask, socially distance, wash your hands, and stay home if you’re sick.”

Following up on its earlier effort in Sunset Park, the city is targeting these neighborhoods with phone calls, literature, and outreach to community organizations with safety guidelines and testing sites.

“We need everybody to listen and not be comfortable. This is a matter of life and death,” said Councilman Donovan Richards, whose district is on this list. “Far Rockaway lost nearly a thousand people during this pandemic.”

While the State continues to report positive test results below one percent, as it has been for more than a month, in Kew Gardens the City Department of Health reported on Tuesday that the rate is 2.24 percent. In the period between August 1 and September 19, the number of positive cases doubled in Kew Gardens.

A single digit rate appears miniscule, but as we’ve seen in March, the virus can spread quickly in the absence of preventive measures. As synagogues, schools, and businesses across the city are complying with masks, partitions, distancing signs, and reduced capacity, residents of these neighborhoods can reduce the risk by maintaining compliance and taking the test, which is now available in more locations and with a shorter time to receive results.

Maintaining compliance is certainly a matter of life and death for many individuals in the community, but it is also a matter of survival for businesses, and education for children who have never been so happy to return to their classrooms after a semester of online learning.

 By Sergey Kadinsky

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