COVID-19 Update 05/15/2020

Rockaway Beach
Rockaway Beach during better times. Photo from

De Blasio: Beaches and pools will not open Memorial Day

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned New Yorkers to prepare for a summer with no public pools or beaches as the city still hasn’t met requirements to reopen.

“This is going to be a different summer than any summer we’ve experienced in the history of New York City,” de Blasio said.

According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s seven criteria — of which New York City has only met four — de Blasio’s region is not ready to be reopened, something he agrees with.

Even though the governor said that the state’s beaches will be open for Memorial Day Weekend, he left it up to the localities to decide if they think it was safe to do so, and de Blasio did not.

Due to this, New Yorkers should not expect to see the beaches anytime soon, and will actually be met with increased patrols if they try to go to Rockaway, Coney, Orchard Beaches over the holiday weekend.

“We are reviewing the guidelines the Governor laid out and will make all decisions based on the safety of New Yorkers,” de Blasio spokeswoman Jane Meyer said in an email. “Beaches will not open on Memorial Day, but we are putting plans into place so that we can open beaches this summer if it’s safe.”

However, the city is working on other measures to keep people cool this summer, including the possibility of converting sports arenas, auditoriums and other large venues into public cooling centers where social distancing will, presumably, be enforced. 

De Blasio also said that the city is working to set up “misting oases” around seating areas to keep people cool without going to a beach or pool.

“You remember those particularly hot days, it’s not only uncomfortable, it’s not only going to be a challenge in terms of social distancing and everything else we’re dealing with, it can be dangerous,” de Blasio said. 

Additionally, the city plans to provide around 74,000 air conditioners for all low-income seniors for about $55,000 million, as well as expand subsidies on summer utility bills that will likely hit new highs as much of the city is expected to be staying home.

Read more about this in this article: CNBC

Cuomo extends stay at home orders until June 13

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday at his daily briefing that he is extending the COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, stay at home orders until June 13 from their original expiration date of today.

In addition, five of the 10 state regions the governor drew up have met the full seven criteria to begin the process of reopening.

These regions are the Finger Lakes, Central New York, Mohawk Valley, Southern Tier and the North Country, and they will begin with restarting the construction, wholesale and manufacturing sector of the economy.

As soon as other regions meet all seven criteria, they will be allowed to start the reopening process, Cuomo said.

Even while reopening, people in these regions still have to wear face masks or other coverings and stay at least six feet apart from people they do not live with.

“The Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley, the North Country and Central NY are ready to begin Phase 1 of reopening tomorrow,” Cuomo wrote on Twitter. “The others can be UN-PAUSED the moment they hit their benchmarks. New Yorkers be proud. Your actions bent the curve.”

Read more about this in this article: NPR

Brooklyn drag racers take over streets emptied due to the coronavirus

Drag Racing image from 123rf

With the streets empty due to people self-isolating at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, drag racers have deemed Bay Ridge their new spot to drive loudly and recklessly at night.

“There are people who think the streets are a video game. Because the streets are so quiet, there’s no one on the road except for these people who are driving like lunatics, and it’s scary,” City Councilmember Justin Brannan (D- Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach) said.

While residents said there was always an issue with reckless driving in the area, things have gotten worse as the streets have been emptier in recent weeks.

Skid marks can show the routes the drivers took, with curved black marks indicating spins, especially along Shore Road and a stretch of the Belt Parkway highway near the Verrazano Bridge.

“We would see a tremendous amount of drag racing and folks pulling wheelies,” Bay Ridge resident and homeowner Andrew Spieler said. “I’ve seen some of these folks lose control and smash into parked cars.”

Residents also said that they hear the sounds of revving engines, screeching tires and car backfires each night.

“This guy has his exhaust system, it was so insane that anytime he drove down the street, you’d have 10 people calling 911 saying they heard gunshots,” Brannan said about one driver.

The New York Police Department said that it has become more aware of the problem in recent weeks. Officers often stake out the Belt Parkway near the bridge to catch speeders and reckless drivers.

“Recently the city found a solution, which was to paint lines and put the smallest speed bumps. And it really hasn’t deterred any of this,” Spieler said.

Read more about this in this article: New York 1

Chicago’s Cook County surpasses Queens County in coronavirus cases

Chicago’s Cook County had the dubious distinction of overtaking Queens County in the number of COVID cases. Credit: Vincent Desjardins, Pxhere

Cook County in Chicago, Illinois has now surpassed Queens as the county with the highest number of coronavirus cases in the United States.

Queens had been the leader in this tally since the pandemic reached the United States, but as of yesterday, Cook County now has around 400 more confirmed cases of the virus.

The Chicago Sun-Times was the first to report on this, stating that Cook County had 58,457 confirmed cases and Queens had 58,084 confirmed cases, according to the state Department of Health, as of press time.

In the statewide tally, however, New York still has more confirmed cases than Illinois.

Read more about this in this article: The New York Post