“I’ll be having more than 10 ppl at my house on Thanksgiving,” Joe Borelli, a Staten Island Republican who is the council’s minority whip, said in a tweet Wednesday. “Some family will come from (gasp!) New Jersey. Kids will see their grandparents, cousins will play in the yard, sis in law will bring strawberry rhubarb pie, & a turkey will be overcooked.”
As fall has brought colder weather to the Northeast, New York and New Jersey have reported an increase in new daily coronavirus cases in recent weeks, although the number of new daily infections isn’t as high as it was in late March and April when New York City was a hotbed of the pandemic.
New York state had a 61 percent increase in new daily reported cases over the past week, and new daily reported deaths have jumped by 47 percent. Nearly 1 in 5 people screened in Newark, New Jersey’s largest city, tested positive for the virus last week.
Cuomo said Wednesday he believes people who commute frequently to and from New Jersey have been “driving the high [coronavirus] rate in Staten Island,” CBS New York reported. Staten Island has the highest positivity rate in New York City, and most of the borough has been identified as a “yellow precautionary zone micro-cluster” because its seven-day rolling average positivity rate was above 2.5 percent over the past 10 days.
Residents of the borough have been resistant to coronavirus restrictions, staging protests early in the pandemic and congregating by the thousands for an October rally for President Trump that spurred concerns about viral spread. Local politicians in the Republican stronghold have also been pushing back against Cuomo’s cautious approach to reopening New York since the spring.
Now, restrictions have been put in place to try to dial back the latest increases in infections.
On top of limiting private gatherings to 10 people, Cuomo on Wednesday also ordered restaurants, bars and gyms to close their doors at 10 p.m., although restaurants can still deliver food overnight.
Public health officials in New York state, though, have said large gatherings, including weddings and birthday parties, held at private clubs and inside homes, have turned into superspreader events in recent weeks. Those events and rising coronavirus numbers across the state led Cuomo to urge people to skip large Thanksgiving get-togethers this year.
Some other New York City leaders rebuked Borelli on Wednesday.
Council member Brad Lander, a Democrat from Brooklyn, said encouraging large Thanksgiving gatherings “gleefully ignores public health evidence & models behavior that will get people killed.”
Keith Powers, another Democrat who represents Manhattan’s Upper East Side, urged Borelli to “take the uptick of the virus seriously” and “act like we’re in a pandemic.”