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Crowds of Orthodox Jewish people are filmed gathering in NYC's Borough Park where COVID-19 cases spiked the same day the city reported a 3.25% infection rate

 Crowds of Orthodox Jewish people were filmed gathering in New York City over the weekend as COVID-19 infection rates continue to spike in the Big Apple.

In the footage, dozens of people were seen walking closely together down a street in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn.

While some wore masks, others were seen without facial coverings and social distancing appeared to be nearly impossible for most of the individuals in the footage.

But according to a person who attended the event, about 80 per cent of the community was wearing masks during the event. 

The attendee also defended the video, saying: 'At the point where the video was captured, it started pouring, and people were leaving the streets.' 

On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he would start imposing fines on anyone who does not wear a mask in public as the COVID-19 infection rate rose to 3.25 per cent for the first time since June. The maximum fine for refusing to wear a mask is $1,000. 

Crowd of Orthodox Jewish people gather in Brooklyn as Covid spikes
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Crowds of Orthodox Jewish people are seen gathering in New York City
Some were seen wearing masks while others weren't

Crowds of Orthodox Jewish people were filmed gathering in New York City over the weekend as COVID-19 infection rates continue to spike in the Big Apple

In the footage, dozens of people were seen walking closely together down a street in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn

In the footage, dozens of people were seen walking closely together down a street in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn

But according to a person who attended the event, about 80 per cent of the community was wearing masks during the event

But according to a person who attended the event, about 80 per cent of the community was wearing masks during the event

The elevated rate, which was at 1.93 per cent just the day before, marks a worrisome step for a city that has made drastic progress in fighting the coronavirus. 

The highest infection rate based on a 14-day average that was released by de Blasio on Monday was in Borough Park, where the infection rate was 6.72 per cent.

The seven-day rolling average, which is what officials will monitor when weighing new restrictions, is 1.38 per cent. De Blasio's threshold for keeping the city open is a five per cent infection rate. 

The increase in cases occurs in the same week that hundreds of thousands of children return to in-person school.

It also comes as restaurants and bars will begin allowing indoor dining at 25 per cent capacity for the first time since March starting Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, Gov Andrew Cuomo revealed that nearly a quarter of New York state's positive COVID-19 cases came from 20 hotspots.


'We are targeting these clusters immediately to prevent community spread. If you live in one of these ZIP codes, treat this seriously. Wear a mask. Wash your hands often. Get tested,' he said.  

Earlier this week, Cuomo blamed the rise on 'a lack of compliance' and said that the 20 state zip codes, all with a strong Orthodox Jewish populations, have daily test positivity rates that average five per cent.

The surge is being driven by new cases in nine neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens; Gravesend/Homecrest, Midwood, Kew Gardens, Borough Park, Bensonhurst, Gerritsen Beach/Sheepshead Bay and Flatlands. 

New York became the global epicenter of the pandemic in spring, recording 23,800 cases in March alone, but in recent weeks officials have touted the lowest test positivity rate and infection rate among major US cities. 

Of the 52,936 tests reported Sunday, 834 were positive, or 1.5 per cent of the total, Cuomo tweeted. 

While a 1.5 positive rate is still relatively low, it conceals hot spots deemed 'worrying' by health authorities, particularly parts of Brooklyn that have large populations of Orthodox Jews.

Also on Wednesday, Gov Andrew Cuomo revealed that nearly a quarter of New York state's positive COVID-19 cases came from 20 hotspots

Also on Wednesday, Gov Andrew Cuomo revealed that nearly a quarter of New York state's positive COVID-19 cases came from 20 hotspots

'We are targeting these clusters immediately to prevent community spread. If you live in one of these ZIP codes, treat this seriously. Wear a mask. Wash your hands often. Get tested,' he said. This graphic depicts the 20 zip codes that Cuomo was referring too

'We are targeting these clusters immediately to prevent community spread. If you live in one of these ZIP codes, treat this seriously. Wear a mask. Wash your hands often. Get tested,' he said. This graphic depicts the 20 zip codes that Cuomo was referring too 

The surge is being driven by new cases in nine neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens; Gravesend/Homecrest, Midwood, Kew Gardens, Borough Park, Bensonhurst, Gerritsen Beach/Sheepshead Bay and Flatlands (depicted)

The surge is being driven by new cases in nine neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens; Gravesend/Homecrest, Midwood, Kew Gardens, Borough Park, Bensonhurst, Gerritsen Beach/Sheepshead Bay and Flatlands (depicted)

De Blasio plans to fine people refusing to wear masks in public
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In some of these neighborhoods, the infection rate has risen to five or six per cent, and has been linked to Yom Kippur that ended on Monday, according to health officials.

Cuomo also cited Rockland County and Orange County, suburbs with large Orthodox Jewish populations, as areas where the positive rate is increasing. Rockland County zip code has a 30 per cent rate, he said.  

One zip code in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn has recorded more than 400 new coronavirus cases since September 1. By comparison, the Corona section of Queens, which was ground zero for the New York City outbreak in the spring, has seen just 62 new cases despite having a third more residents. 

The rise is particularly concerning as public schools in the US financial capital prepare to re-open classrooms for part time learning in-person, a move the city has already postponed twice.

'This may be the most precarious position with COVID-19 we have experienced in months,' New York health commissioner Dave Chokshi told reporters Friday.

Authorities have warned that they will inspect non-public schools - including Jewish religious schools - in the coming days, and sanction establishments where social distancing and mask rules aren't being implemented.`


Avi Greenstein, the chief executive officer of the Boro Park Community Council, a social service organization in the heavily Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhood of Borough Park, said that mask wearing is indeed higher in the area than it was two weeks ago. 

But Greenstein said city officials should work with community leaders on coronavirus outreach rather than threatening heavy-handed enforcement. 'There's a way to do it,' he said. 'There's no need to threaten fines.' 

Cuomo said he will meet virtually with Orthodox Jewish leaders and local elected officials from the communities most affected by the coronavirus to insist on the need to abide by the rules.

The governor admitted he was nervous about public school reopening, which is scheduled for Thursday.

De Blasio said that schools would close again if the daily test positivity rate is higher than three per cent for seven days.  

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