CORONAVIRUS IN NYC: 1,377 new cases, 227 new deaths; city limiting capacity at some parks to enforce social distancing

Coronavirus NYC Central Park
Photo credit Cindy Ord/Getty Images

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that New York City will limit the number of people who can be at some parks to help enforce social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic — as the health department reported 1,377 new COVID-19 cases and 227 new confirmed deaths.

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A total of 176,086 people in New York City had tested positive for COVID-19 as of 6 p.m. Thursday — up from 174,709 at the same time on Wednesday, data released Friday shows. 

New York City on Friday also reported a total of 14,389 confirmed deaths and 5,313 probable deaths, for a combined death toll of 19,702. 

Here's the breakdown of cases by borough:

  • Bronx: 40,148
  • Brooklyn: 46,977
  • Manhattan: 21,862
  • Queens: 54,558
  • Staten Island: 12,452

De Blasio said the city will increase social distancing in parks that have a mix of tight spaces and large crowds.

"We know we had some parks last weekend that were more crowded than they should have been," he said.

The mayor said capacity will be limited at Piers 45 and 46 at Hudson River Park.

The NYPD will also increase its presence and closely monitor Domino Park in Brooklyn.

De Blasio suggested more parks could see restrictions in the weeks ahead.

NYPD officers will be at the parks to hand out face coverings and limit the number of people entering. If they do become too crowded, police will ask people to move along.

"We think limiting access at the beginning makes sense," the mayor said. "It saves lives. If you’re going in, you're going in for a limited period of time. We're not going to let it get too crowded."

Parks have become increasingly crowded in recent weeks, with nonessential businesses and playgrounds closed across the boroughs. That’s created concern that some parks might become overwhelmed this spring and summer, making it impossible for people to keep six feet apart.

“We’ve got some parks that are just—the way they’re set up, it’s just too easy to have crowding,” de Blasio said at his briefing Thursday. “We can’t let that happen and we have to limit the number of people going in.”

The mayor said “there’s not that many places” but that “wherever that is the case, we’re going to work with a protocol to do that.”

“That will take some experimentation, will take some effort to make sure it works,” de Blasio said.

The city has opened nine miles of streets to pedestrians to help ease crowding and is expected to have 40 miles of streets open to pedestrians by the end of May. The ultimate goal is to have 100 miles open in the coming months.

De Blasio also announced Friday that a Test and Trace Corps is being formed to suppress the spread of COVID-19 as New York City prepares to enter “low-level transmission.”

The mayor said the corps will focus on preventing infection even as social distancing measures are adjusted.

He said they're "a dedicated group of trained individuals who will lead the way in conducting testing and tracing on a level we've never seen before in this city or country" and that they will "reach deep into our communities" to expand testing and tracing.

The corps will aim to get the city from the current number of 14,000 tests per day to 50,000 per day over the next "few months."

De Blasio said he hopes to have the tests conducted at over 300 community sites working with both public and private providers.

The mayor said that by June the corps will have 1,000 "public health foot soldiers to investigate cases, trace contacts, monitor contacts and manage all case data and inquiries." The goal is to have 2,500 of these tracers by June.

Dr. Ted Long, of NYC Health + Hospitals, will be the executive director of the corps, de Blasio said. Jackie Bray, the director of the Mayor's Office to Protect Tenants, will be the deputy executive director of the corps. The chief medical officer of the corps will be Dr. Andrew Wallach of Bellevue Hospital.

De Blasio said the city has made “real progress” in fighting the coronavirus since last month despite the challenges of controlling the disease in America’s largest city.

When it comes to key indicators tracking the spread of the virus over the past week, the mayor said it's "another day where we see the big picture is unquestionably good, but still the day to day we’re not where we need to be."

He said there were 102 new admissions for suspected COVID-19 day-over-day, up from 70 admissions as of May 5.

De Blasio said the number of ICU patients at public hospitals ticked up slightly from 567 to 568 as of May 5. He said the number needs to go steadily down and that it reflects the number of people who are most in danger from the disease.

The mayor said the percentage of city residents who tested positive was 14 percent, down from 16 percent as of May 5