This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Tuesday, September 29th, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.

New York City is in Phase 4 of reopening now, which includes zoos, botanical gardens, museums, and gyms. A look at preparing for the spread of coronavirus is here, and if you have lingering questions about the virus, here is our regularly updated coronavirus FAQ. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.

Here's the latest:

4:15 p.m. Seven neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens are still seeing increases in the percentages of people testing positive for the virus, according to the latest update from Department of Health officials.

All told, the city is monitoring positivity rates in nine neighborhoods that are now accounting for nearly 26% of new cases citywide over the past two weeks, but which represent less than 8% of the city’s overall population.

On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the citywide daily positivity rate had climbed over 3%, the highest it has been since June. The mayor announced that the city would begin issuing fines as well as shutting down private schools that fail to comply with public health rules.

Brooklyn's Gravesend continues to top the list, with a positivity rate of nearly 7%. It is one of three areas in South Brooklyn, including Borough Park and Bensonhurst, where the positivity rate has eclipsed 6%.

Below is the full list of data from the Health Department, which is based on a 14-day average, which the city says "can more accurately reflect sustained trends than data pulled from a single day."

  • Gravesend/Homecrest [11223] (6.92%)
  • Midwood [11230] (5.64%)
  • Kew Gardens [11415] (3.31%)
  • Edgemere/Far Rockaway [11691] (4.91%)
  • Borough Park [11219] (6.23%)
  • Bensonhurst/Mapleton [11204] (6.05%)
  • Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay [11229] (4.05%)
  • Flatlands/Midwood [11210] (4.73%)
  • Kew Gardens Hills/Pomonok [11367] (3.60%)

In addition to these 9 ZIP codes, we have identified 3 additional ZIP codes that are showing increased growth of cases and test positivity between 2% and 3%, which are:

  • Rego Park [11374] (2.64%)
  • Kensington/Windsor Terrace [11218] (2.72%)
  • Brighton Beach/Manhattan Beach/Sheepshead Bay [11235] (2.85%)

The 3 areas above have also increased in the percent of positive tests since the day before, according to preliminary data.

Williamsburg [11211/11249] remains an area where we are observing a faster increase in cases compared to other parts of the city, even though the test positivity rate is below 3% (1.89%).

The Health Department added that the latest data "is starting to see an uptick in the number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19."

Global Deaths From COVID-19 Surpass 1 Million

More than 1 million global deaths from coronavirus have now been reported, a once unthinkable milestone that experts say is an undercounting of the pandemic's devastating human cost.

“When you count anything, you never count it perfectly,” said Dr. Michael Ryan, the head of the World Health Organization’s emergencies program, on Monday during a press briefing in Geneva. “But I can assure you that the current numbers are likely an underestimate of the true toll of Covid.”

In an op-ed for British newspaper The Independent, Tedros Ghebreyesus, the director of the World Health Organization, acknowledged the marker as a "difficult moment for the world," but also said he saw "glimmers of hope" in the form of vaccine trials as well as treatments for the disease.

He cited a list of countries that have successfully battled the virus, including Italy which was ravaged early on but has since become one of the few European countries to resist a rebound by maintaining an adherence to social distancing and mask wearing.

The United States, meanwhile, has amassed the most cases and suffered the largest death toll. To date, there have been 7.2 million cases nationwide and more than 205,000 fatalities. Under President Donald Trump, the country's response has been nearly uniformly judged a failure in the public health community. There is still no national testing strategy, the virus has become politicized, and many Republican governors have been reluctant to adopt more stringent health precautions. Amid pressure and meddling from the Trump administration, guidance from the leading public health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has been spotty, inconsistent, and at times, subject to backtracking, most critically on the issue of face masks. Outbreaks are now raging through the Midwest and the Great Plains while infection rates remain stubbornly high in many other states. Here in New York City and the nearby suburbs, there are early signs of a possible second wave.

On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he would deploy rapid test machines to schools or local governments in 10 ZIP codes, five of which are in New York City, with high positivity rates.

"The key to these clusters is to jump on them quickly, attack them from all sides, get the testing so you can do contact tracing and you can isolate," he said.

He urged officials to double down on mask compliance and other measures, and combat pandemic fatigue.

“The virus isn’t tired,” he said. “It’s no time to get tired.”