Six of the ZIP codes which have had soaring coronavirus test positivity rates are now showing signs of decreasing transmission, according to data posted Thursday on the city's Department of Health coronavirus data website.
The latest information reflects reported virus cases over the last four week period ending on October 10th.
In the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Gravesend (11223), Midwood (11230), Borough Park (11219), Flatlands (11210), Gerritsen Beach (11229) and Far Rockaway ( 11691) in Queens, the average weekly number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents started to steadily decline in between the weeks of October 3rd and October 10th.
Gravesend, one of the worst hit areas where positivity rates have been around 8%, experienced the steepest decline. The number of reported cases fell from 240 cases per 100,000 residents for the week of October 3rd to 135 during the week October 10th—a drop of 44%.
Far Rockaway had the second biggest percentage decrease, that of 34%, from 159 to 105 cases per 100,000 residents. It was followed by Midwood, which has an average positivity of 7%. There, cases per 100,000 residents fell 29%, from 218 to 155.
There was one noticeable outlier: cases per 100,000 residents in the Financial District grew by 34%, from 82 to 110 during the same one week period. The average positivity rate in that neighborhood is 2.5%
The new data comes as New York City completes the first week of new restrictions in some neighborhoods. Last Thursday marked the first day of three-tiered shutdowns in virus hotspots in Brooklyn and Queens. Under Governor Andrew Cuomo's state order, areas with high positivity rates have been designated as three risk zones. In areas with the highest infection rates, known as red zones, non-essential businesses and schools have been ordered to close, while houses of worship must limit indoor worship to no more than 10 people. All mass gatherings are prohibited.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has described this week as "decisive" to fighting the latest round of outbreaks which suggest that the city may be heading toward a second wave.
Between the weeks of October 3rd and October 13th, the citywide seven-day average positivity rate has gradually declined from 1.75% to 1.49%.
"There does not need to be the second wave in New York City," de Blasio said on Thursday. "We can stop a second wave in New York City if we act decisively now."
He said that the latest testing numbers indicated "some leveling off" and that it was a sign that increased testing, education and enforcement were working.
The mayor, who has been roundly criticized by Cuomo for failing to enforce the state's health rules, said that in the last week 18,000 sites in the city had been inspected, resulting in 288 summonses.
While the city maintains a fairly comprehensive coronavirus data website, de Blasio also faced questions on Thursday about why the health department had stopped sending alerts on the positivity rates and caseloads in hotspot ZIP codes.
The last update was sent on October 6th, prior to the governor's plan, when health officials identified nine ZIP codes with COVID-19 rates over 3% for at least seven consecutive days. The city also highlighted another group of 13 ZIP codes, with positivity rates approaching 3%.
At the time, both groups accounted for over 40% of all cases over the previous two weeks.
De Blasio suggested that releasing city data by ZIP code might be confusing when the state had carved out zones.
"We want to make sure that we're providing clear and accurate information," he said. "And when there's a different measure being created by the state, there is the valid question of whether we're going to create more clarity and more confusion by having different numbers out there."
Experts have been very concerned about the trajectory of the latest outbreaks, with some saying that a second wave is all but inevitable.
Cuomo on Wednesday said that the phenomenon of “micro clusters” of the virus in communities could last for as long as a year. He cited the time it would take for a vaccine to be distributed as well as the possibility that some people will refuse to get vaccinated.