The rate of positive COVID test results has increased in Queens over the past week as city legislators have begun to warn that it could mark the beginning of a second wave.
After Gov. Cuomo designated Ozone Park as a yellow zone at the end of October, South Queens has continued to have warning signs of higher infection.
When the city Department of Health updated its website to show real-time data on COVID positivity rates by zip code, it showed that Richmond Hill had the second highest seven-day COVID test positivity rates in all of New York City as of Monday at 4.43 percent.
The increase is not isolated to Richmond Hill. Farther south, Arverne and Broad Channel had the fifth highest seven-day positivity rate in the city. That data came to light shortly after Cuomo removed Far Rockaway's yellow zone designation at the end of last week, based on state data.
The seven day rolling average for the entire Queens yellow zone has increased from 2.68 percent positive last Monday to 3.12 percent as of today, with daily rates of positivity shooting up in the last couple days of this week, according to the state metrics.
Asked about the high positivity rate in Richmond Hill at a press event Monday, Mayor de Blasio said that he doesn’t believe it to be caused by any one thing or superspreader event.
“New York City has not seen major sites driving spread as you've seen in some other parts of the country where you really could identify a major outbreak to a specific site, whether it was a bar, a restaurant, a rally, something like that. We have not had that so much here. I think it's much more diffuse. It's smaller family gatherings. It's, you know, much more individual, if you will,” he said.
The office of Councilwoman Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica) announced on Tuesday that NYC Health + Hospitals opened up a new rapid COVID testing site at the Lefferts branch of the Queens Public Library at 103-34 Lefferts Blvd on Tuesday. Free testing will be available at the location daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Adams recently told the Chronicle that she has had to push the city to get more testing in the area. Though five neighboring ZIP codes in South Queens were among the 10 areas with the lowest rates of COVID testing in the whole city as of the end of October, Adams and other community leaders said that their efforts to set up more testing sites in the area have met bureaucratic resistance.
As of Monday, the closest city-sponsored testing center was either on 164 Street in Jamaica or Beach 39th Street in Rockaway, as City Council candidate Felicia Singh pointed out on Twitter.
“But, certainly, as we work with community partners, as we identify local leaders to continue to make sure that we're getting the message out… [we are] making sure that individuals are getting tested and avoiding gatherings as much as possible,” said First Deputy Commissioner and Chief Equity Officer Torian Easterling at the press event.
After the initial publication of this story, it was announced that NYC Health + Hospitals were opening a new rapid testing site in Richmond Hill.