Politics & Policy

NYC Records Lowest COVID Test Positivity Rate Since March, De Blasio Aims to Reopen Schools

The Empire State Building is seen from the Top of The Rock in New York April 25, 2012. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

New York mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday that the city has recorded its lowest positive testing rate for coronavirus since the pandemic began in March.

The most recent daily results for citywide coronavirus tests, August 17, revealed that 0.24 percent of new patients tested positive. As of the same date, the city recorded a 7-day average of 320 people testing positive, a rate that has held relatively steady since the beginning of the month.

This is extraordinary,” de Blasio said of the daily positivity rate. “This should be a clarion call to all of us to double down and go farther, because the more we can do to beat back this virus, the more we can do to bring back this city.”

New York City and the surrounding environs bore the brunt of the initial coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. Close to 24,000 city residents have died of coronavirus, and over 2 percent of the city’s entire population has been infected at some point during the pandemic.

However, fears of a possible “second wave” of coronavirus in New York have so far proven to be unfounded. While it is not clear exactly why the city has not seen a resurgence, several public health experts told the New York Times that city residents may have taken coronavirus mitigation efforts more seriously than other places in the U.S., due to the severity of the crisis in March and April. De Blasio has also held off on allowing indoor dining and the reopening of gyms.

Currently, the city administration is attempting to implement a hybrid in-person and remote learning plan for New York’s public school district, the largest in the U.S. with over 1 million students. Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that any school district in an area where coronavirus test positivity remains under 5 percent can open, which means that de Blasio can open the schools.

So far, only around 30 percent of parents have said they will keep their children home for remote learning when school starts on September 10. However, de Blasio is facing some resistance from the city principals’ union, which has called for a 30-day delay of any in-person instruction.

“Unions will always sound various alarms, and unions will say things sometimes in a very dramatic fashion,” de Blasio said last week. The mayor has continued to press ahead with the school reopening plan.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.


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