Over the weekend, people across the country pushed coronavirus to the back of their minds as they took to the streets to revel over Joe Biden’s historic victory over President Donald Trump. Social distancing was virtually nonexistent in Washington Square Park, where New Yorkers danced in mosh pits and sang “We Are the Champions” well into Saturday evening.
Come Monday morning, though, it was back to reality. In a press briefing, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is on the verge of a second wave of the coronavirus, and he urged New Yorkers to stay home when possible.
“We can stop a second wave if we act immediately, and everyone has to be a part of it,” de Blasio said, later adding that “we’re seeing household transmission; we are seeing community spread; we are seeing things we have not seen in a long time, and we have to stop them.”
According to the latest data, the city’s positivity rate has risen to 2.26 percent, well above the threshold the mayor previously indicated would be cause to take actions to limit indoor dining. The mayor did not announce any new restrictions today, though he did warn of a possibility of further lockdowns if cases don’t decrease. The New York Times reported that more than 1,000 new cases were identified in the city four days in a row this past week. The seven-day rolling average of new cases had been hovering between 500 and 700 prior to that, according to the city’s data.
In nearby New Jersey, virus cases are also on the rise, and the state today announced new restrictions, including prohibiting interstate games and tournaments for indoor youth sports and mandating that indoor dining facilities close by 10 p.m. each day.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced these restrictions Monday while, more broadly, urging his constituents to redouble their efforts to beat the “pandemic fatigue.”
“We remain in the midst of a global pandemic, and our country is now recording more than 100,000 cases every day,” Murphy said during a news conference. “We have to snap back into reality. This virus has not gone away and it’s posing its greatest threat to us in many months.”
Murphy framed the current challenge as a temporary one. On Monday, Pfizer announced that in early trials, its vaccine was more than 90 percent effective in preventing coronavirus. Murphy noted that, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, broad distribution of this vaccine is possible by next spring.
Just as local leaders have been calling for heightened precautions as the virus refuses to let up, so too President-elect Joe Biden made a plea on Monday that Americans take action. “I won’t be president until January 20th, but my message today to everyone is this: wear a mask.” Biden tweeted.
This message came just hours after Biden named a COVID-19 Transition Advisory Board, a group of public health professionals, doctors and government officials. Chairing the 13-member task force are former surgeon general Vivek Murthy, former FDA commissioner David Kessler, and Marcella Nunez-Smith, associate dean for health and equity research at the Yale School of Medicine. The task force will work with local and state officials to address the virus and work to reopen the economy, according to a statement. “Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face,” Biden said in the statement, “and I will be informed by science and by experts.”
Video at top: Revelers celebrate Biden’s impending win on Friday night.