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'We have one last chance to stop a second wave': Mayor de Blasio tells New Yorkers to limit holiday parties and travel as the city's COVID-19 infection rate reaches 2.2% and Gov Cuomo warns the state is approaching 'two worst months' of the pandemic

 Mayor Bill de Blasio is urging New Yorkers to limit holiday festivities and travel as the city sits on the cusp of a 'second wave' of coronavirus

De Blasio made his plea during a press conference on Monday after the Big Apple's average infection rate hit 2.2 percent - surpassing a key threshold set by the city. 

With the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching, the mayor asked residents to be mindful of the virus when planning trips and gatherings, saying the city had 'one last chance to stop a second wave'. 

It came as New York City is expected to see a spike in coronavirus cases in the coming weeks following massive street parties on Saturday after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election. 

De Blasio landed in hot water after he joined the celebrations, which saw most people wearing masks but few adhering to social distancing guidelines. 

The mayor flashed up photos of the celebrations during his press conference and congratulated Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris, but did not mention the parties or what effect they may have had on the city's case count.  

Governor Andrew Cuomo gave an update on coronavirus numbers across the state later on Monday morning, warning that he will be ramping up enforcement of restrictions ahead of the holidays. 

Cuomo said he fears the US is heading into its worst two months of the coronavirus pandemic, and that New York will not be immune to spikes. 

Like de Blasio, Cuomo did not mention the weekend revelry surrounding Biden's win.

de Blasio warns: 'We have one last chance to stop a second wave'
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New York City's average infection rate climbed to 2.2 percent over the weekend. The chart above shows daily new cases over the past two months

New York City's average infection rate climbed to 2.2 percent over the weekend. The chart above shows daily new cases over the past two months 

Large parts of Brooklyn and Queens are currently designated as red and yellow zones by the state because of high coronavirus positivity rates

Large parts of Brooklyn and Queens are currently designated as red and yellow zones by the state because of high coronavirus positivity rates 

Governor Andrew Cuomo gave an update on coronavirus numbers across the state later on Monday morning, warning that he will be ramping up enforcement of restrictions as the holidays approach

Governor Andrew Cuomo gave an update on coronavirus numbers across the state later on Monday morning, warning that he will be ramping up enforcement of restrictions as the holidays approach

New York's positivity rate reached 2.82 percent over the weekend, the highest it's been since June 1, when the rate was 2.5 percent, according to state data. 

The rate had hovered around one percent for several consecutive months earlier this fall, before increasing with spikes in multiple zip codes across the state.   

During his press conference, de Blasio declined to specify the cause of New York City's increasing infection rate but pointed to parts of Brooklyn and Queens that are designated as 'red' and 'yellow' zones by the state. 

'It's a problem everywhere, but it's a particular problem in certain neighborhoods,' the mayor said. 

Last month de Blasio implemented new restrictions in problem neighborhoods, including the closure of schools and non-essential businesses. 

On Monday he indicated that the city as a whole could see new lockdowns if a second wave arrives, but did not specify a timeline. 

'Let's be careful about trying to predict exact timelines because in a sense, that takes away the role of the people,' de Blasio said. 

'This is not something that happens to us and we have no impact on. The more people wear masks, practice social distancing — all those basics — the more we're able to fight back that second wave.

'God forbid, [if] this continued and we had a full-blown second wave, it means a lot more restrictions,' he added.

He was joined by the city's Health Commissioner Dr Dave Chokshi, who also stressed the importance of safe celebrations during the holidays. 

'Mistletoe may be off-limits this year, but holiday cheer is not,' Chokshi said. 

De Blasio also noted that indoor dining could be 're-evaluated' in light of recent upticks - but did not say whether he thought it was contributing to those upticks.

De Blasio landed in hot water for joining New York City's massive street parties on Saturday after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election

De Blasio landed in hot water for joining New York City's massive street parties on Saturday after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election

New York City is expected to see a spike in coronavirus cases in the coming weeks after the celebrations on Saturday, which saw crowds wearing masks but ignoring social distancing

New York City is expected to see a spike in coronavirus cases in the coming weeks after the celebrations on Saturday, which saw crowds wearing masks but ignoring social distancing

Cuomo's office began targeting zip codes and called them 'micro-clusters' earlier this fall, sending in additional resources to help prevent those areas from fueling outbreaks in regions with lower case counts. 

As of Monday there are 11 'focus zones' across the state - ranging from red to orange to yellow depending on positivity rate trends. Those zones include parts of Brooklyn and Queens in New York City, as well Rockland, Orange, Broome, Steuben, Chemung, Westchester, Erie, Monroe, and Onondaga counties. 

The latter three counties were added to the list on Monday, as Brooklyn was downgraded from red to orange.  

The test positivity rate in the focus areas under NY's Micro-Cluster strategy is 4.32 percent, the governor said Monday. 

Excluding those areas, the statewide positivity rate is 2.69 percent.

'COVID is surging across the country and the globe, and we expect the rates will continue to go up through the fall and into the winter,' Cuomo told reporters on a press call. 

'The long-term prognosis is get a vaccine as quickly as possible, and administer the vaccine as quickly, fairly and equitably as possible. 

'In the meantime, we manage the increase by doing more testing and targeted restrictions where necessary, and being more aggressive on enforcement. 

He continued: 'I know people are tired - COVID fatigue is real. But the virus isn't tired. The red, orange and yellow zones are our way of saying the virus is making headway and we're going to increase restrictions and we're going to increase enforcement. 

'When we see a small increase, we attack that small increase - and the numbers show it works. If we stay smart and disciplined, we can manage this - but it will take all of us being New York Tough.'

New York's positivity rate reached 2.3 percent over the weekend, the highest its been since June 1, when the rate was 2.5 percent, according to state data

New York's positivity rate reached 2.3 percent over the weekend, the highest its been since June 1, when the rate was 2.5 percent, according to state data

Prior to holding his press conference, Cuomo appeared on Good Morning America and warned that the US could be approaching its worst stage of the coronavirus pandemic as he attacked President Donald Trump's plan to roll out a promising new vaccine. 

'We're coming up to the worst two months I think that we may have seen vis-a-vis COVID,' Cuomo told host George Stephanopoulos. 

He made the dire prediction hours after Pfizer announced that early data shows its COVID-19 vaccine may be 90 percent effective, and that it hopes to have 50 million doses available by the end of the year if it gains FDA approval.  

But Cuomo said he isn't optimistic about the vaccine bringing the pandemic to its knees any time soon because the Trump administration's plan to bring it to the public.  

'It's good news, bad news,' the governor said of the vaccine announcement. 'The good news is that the Pfizer tests look good and we'll have a vaccine shortly. 

'The bad news is that it's about two months before Joe Biden takes over and that means this administration is going to be implementing a vaccine plan. 

'The vaccine plan is very important. It's probably the most ambitious undertaking since COVID began.'

Cuomo appeared on Good Morning America on Monday and attacked President Donald Trump's plan to roll out a promising new vaccine from Pfizer

Cuomo appeared on Good Morning America on Monday and attacked President Donald Trump's plan to roll out a promising new vaccine from Pfizer 

Cuomo went on to attack Trump's record on coronavirus testing, saying he expects the vaccine plan to be just as big a failure. 

'Just to put it in focus, we did 120 million COVID tests in this nation over 7 months, scrambling, doing everything we can,' he said. 'We now have to do 330 million vaccinations, maybe twice.

'The Trump administration is rolling out the vaccination plan and I believe it's flawed. I believe it learns nothing from the past.'

Cuomo said his issue with the plan is that it relies on private providers, which will 'leave out all sorts of communities that were left out the first time when COVID ravaged them'. 

'So what needs to be done that the Trump administration won't do that President-elect Biden could do?' Stephanopoulos asked. 

'When you deny a problem the way Trump did, you can never solve it,' Cuomo replied. 'The Trump administration denied COVID so they were never ready for it. There was no mobilization of the government. 

'They're still doing the same thing. They're going to take this vaccine and they're going to go through the private mechanism: through hospitals, through drug market chains, et cetera. 

'That's going to be slow and that's going to bypass the communities that we call health care deserts. If you don't have a Rite Aide or a CVS, then you're in trouble.' 

Cuomo explained that he thinks the Biden administration will be better at making sure communities with less access to health care are given the resources they need to combat the pandemic. 

'I think [Biden's] first step - saying let's focus on the science, let's depoliticize testing data - is the exact opposite of Trump,' he said. 

'But you have two months [before Biden takes office] and we can't let this vaccination plan go forward the way the Trump administration is designing it. 

'Biden can't undo it two months later. We'll be in the midst of it.

Cuomo said he's been speaking with other governors to determine 'how can we shape the Trump administration vaccine plan to fix it or stop it before it does damage'.

Cuomo said he isn't optimistic about the vaccine bringing the pandemic to its knees any time soon because the Trump administration's plan to roll it out is 'flawed'
Cuomo said he is confident that Joe Biden will be much better at making sure the vaccine reaches 'health care deserts'

Cuomo said he isn't optimistic about the vaccine bringing the pandemic to its knees any time soon because the Trump administration's plan to roll it out is 'flawed'. He said he is confident that Joe Biden will be much better at making sure the vaccine reaches 'health care deserts'


The US surpassed 10 million coronavirus cases on Monday with more than 237,700 deaths. In the last week, which saw four consecutive days with record new cases, the nationwide positivity rate hit eight percent. 

Asked by Stephanopoulos about rising rates in his state, Cuomo noted that New York's positivity rate remains the third lowest in the country and touted the efforts made to slow the spread. 

'We learned over the past seven months. We're not in denial. We get it,' Cuomo said of New York. 

'Our infection rate is very, very low nationwide. Only Vermont and Maine, I think, have a lower infection rate and they're more rural states, et cetera.

'You have to control the virus. This is not really unknown,' he continued. 'We've all had a virus in our home, George. We know how to deal with it. 

'You isolate people who have a virus, you do the testing, you follow the data and you put in restrictions and government has to step up. 

'You need a national mask mandate and when you see the virus starting to flare up - we call them micro-clusters - we do so much testing that we can see it in a neighborhood. Then you bring in restrictions to close down activity in that neighborhood.

'I understand that politically it's difficult, but that's what you have to do. You see a little flame, you stamp it out and we're doing that all across the state. 

'You will see through the fall the number going up nationwide. That is going to happen. Scientists said that was going to happen. It's going to be managing the infection increase, which is going to be the challenge.'

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