New York Daily News: MANHATTAN, NY – Indoor dining will end and gyms will be forced to close within a matter of weeks, Mayor de Blasio predicted Thursday, a day after he ordered schools closed indefinitely due to a surge in coronavirus cases.

“It’s not if, it’s when,” he told reporters at a Thursday press briefing. “We’re talking a week or two before we’re in that orange zone status. I’m sorry to say that, but that’s the blunt truth.”

De Blasio based his forecast on COVID-19 measures that continue to climb and on conversations with Gov Cuomo about state metrics used to designate areas as yellow, orange or red zones based on infection rate.

Assigning an orange status to the city would trigger the closure of indoor dining at restaurants and bars and gyms — all of which have struggled financially during the pandemic. State COVID rules dictate the orange status be assigned if a city’s positivity rate, averaged over seven days, hits 3% for more than 10 days in a row.

The city and state keep separate measures of coronavirus statistics, which has caused confusion. The city’s testing data is based on when COVID tests were taken, while the state relies on the date of results. The closure of city schools, which began Thursday, is based on the city data.

Former University of Arizona assistant men's basketball coach Book Richardson (center) coaches a youth basketball practice at Gauchos Gym on Gerard Avenue in the Bronx, New York City on September 28, 2020.
Former University of Arizona assistant men’s basketball coach Book Richardson (center) coaches a youth basketball practice at Gauchos Gym on Gerard Avenue in the Bronx, New York City on September 28, 2020. (Gardiner Anderson/for New York Daily News)

Key city COVID measures continued to climb just a day after de Blasio made the controversial decision to shutter schools.

The daily number of people testing positive for the virus averaged out over seven days hit 1,255 on Thursday — more than double the city’s acceptability threshold of 550 and up from the 1,212 cases reported the day before. The metric the city relies on to determine whether to close schools also climbed slightly, with the COVID positivity rate climbing from 3.00% to 3.01%.

Since announcing school closures, de Blasio has offered few specifics about the city’s plan to reopen them. Ramping up testing will be central to the effort to strengthen standards, but it is not entirely clear whether the numbers that now trigger closures will remain the same.

De Blasio seemed to suggest in an interview on 1010 WINS that he is open to the possibility of basing closures on individual school positivity rates rather than the citywide numbers now in place, but with the caveat that the matter is still being discussed internally.

“The beauty of science is that, you know, you change your views on things when the science and the evidence changes,” said de Blasio’s senior health advisor Jay Varma later that morning. “We are going to work very actively to focus on this new phase and how we can modify our proposals to adjust.”

  • Top Feature Photo: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio – Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office