To combat COVID hot spots, de Blasio adds mask fine
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday that people who refuse to wear masks will be fined up to $1,000.
The decision was made after the discovery of COVID-19 clusters in southern Brooklyn and in Queens.
“Anyone who is not wearing a face covering will be offered one [and] will be reminded it is required,” said de Blasio. “And anyone who refuses to wear a face covering will be told that if they don’t put one on, they will be fined. And anyone who still refuses will be fined.
“Our goal, of course, is to give everyone a free face mask and get them to wear it. We don’t want to fine people. If we have to, we will, and that will be starting on a large scale today.”
According to the NYC Department of Health, cluster areas include Gravesend, Homecrest, Borough Park, Bensonhurst, Mapleton, Gerritsen Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Flatlands and Midwood.
Mitchell Katz, president and CEO of Health + Hospitals, said there will be an increase in testing sites and testing capacity, augmenting engagement and adding more people on the ground.
“We have moved 11 mobile testing sites into these cluster areas,” he said. “We’re tripling capacity to Health Department COVID express testing sites.”
Eleven community-based organizations have partnered with Health + Hospitals to assist in street-level outreach, mask distribution and education.
“There will be 350 people on the ground today, including our Test and Trace Corps and community engagement specialists,” said Katz. “We have seven sound trucks out across the cluster area and we’re making robo calls to all households in the cluster area.”
“We are deeply concerned about the alarming increase in COVID-19 in the ZIP codes in Brooklyn and in Queens,” said Dave Chokshi, commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
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