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Three southern Brooklyn neighborhoods — Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, and parts of Brighton Beach — currently make up the area of the city with the highest positivity rate for COVID-19 tests.
City testing data shows 17.37 percent of all tests administered in the 11235 zip code produced positive results during the 7-day period from Jan. 12 through Jan. 18, when the most recent data is available.
Some 521 new coronavirus cases cropped up that week in the area, which is nearly 100 more new cases than the next highest zip code, 10467 in the Bronx.
While no other Brooklyn neighborhoods cracked the top five of the city’s highest COVID-19 positive testing rate, six other southern Brooklyn neighborhoods — Bensonhurst, Mapleton, Bath Beach, Gravesend, other parts of Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Seagate and Homecrest, in that order — are included in the top ten.
Throughout Brooklyn, the positive testing rate sits at 8.13 percent. Across the Five Boroughs, where the rate has hovered around 9 percent, health officials have recorded 36,069 new cases over the seven days ending on Jan. 18.
Theresa Scavo, chairwoman of the area’s Community Board 15, attributes the recent spike in southern Brooklyn cases to people dropping their guard to spend the holidays with family members.
“People are getting crazy, they have been locked in their homes for months,” Scavo said. “You had the holidays, people want to be with friends and family, and they let their guard down, that’s what happening.”
She told Brooklyn Paper the community board has also received multiple reports from residents of store employees not wearing masks inside their businesses and people not wearing masks when walking on the waterfront.
“The community board has received a lot of complaints that there are certain stores that the personnel of the stores are not wearing masks,” Scavo said. “People are mentioning that they are walking around in certain areas, along the waterfront, and people are not wearing masks.”
Area Councilman Chaim Deutsch, however, suggests the increase in COVID-19 rates could result from city dwellers traveling to his district for its recreational spaces, such as the waterfront, and also from caretakers coming from different areas of the city to treat the district’s high population of elderly people.
“Because there is so much activity and so many places people can actually go to, you tend to have more people congregating in certain areas,” My district has a very high population of seniors… where they also have homecare attendants.”
Deutsch recommends the city government dispatch people to knock on doors to educate residents on the importance of wearing a mask, washing their hands and social distancing to combat the spreading of misinformation about the coronavirus on social media.
“There is not enough education,” Deutsch said. “People are constantly on social media… they need to re-educate people constantly because people always believe the last thing they read.”
But most importantly, he said the city needs to designate vaccinations to southern Brooklyn, especially his district, where there is an outsized senior population and coronavirus cases are soaring.
“My constituents are telling me they are trying to get appointments,” Deutsch said. “We need to see the city putting in resources in those areas that need it most. My district needs it most.”
Sheepshead Bay resident Ned Berke expressed frustration at the infection rate in a neighborhood Facebook group.
“Keep up the hard work of wearing masks around your chins, coughing into the markets’ open salad bar, and generally not giving a s—,” he wrote. “Sheepshead proud.”
Update (3:47 pm): This story has been updated to include comments from area Councilman Chaim Deutsch.