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Disney to lay off 28,000 due to COVID; New York City imposes mask fines

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By Jonathan Allen and Lisa Richwine

New York City on Tuesday said it would fine anyone caught in public without a mask, and the Walt Disney Co announced plans to lay off some 28,000 employees as its resorts struggle with plunging numbers of visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 205,000 people have died in the United States and nearly 7.2 million people have been infected since the pandemic began, according to a Reuters tally.

At Disney, about two-thirds of the employees facing layoffs are part-time workers, the company said in a statement.

"We have made the very difficult decision to begin the process of reducing our workforce at our Parks, Experiences and Products segment at all levels," Josh D'Amaro, chairman of Disney's parks unit, said in a statement.

In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city will fine people up to $1,000 for refusing to wear a mask in public, as the rate of positive tests for the novel coronavirus climbed above 3% for the first time in months.

"We don't want to fine people, but if we have to, we will," de Blasio said. City police and health department officials, among others, will enforce the fines, he said.

City officials will first offer free masks to those caught not wearing one in public. If the person refuses, they will face an unspecified fine, de Blasio told reporters.

A similar policy was imposed earlier this month by the state-controlled Metropolitan Transportation Authority under which commuters who refuse to wear a mask on public transit face a $50 fine.

The mayor blamed the recent rise in part on nine ZIP codes out of 146 that city health officials say have seen a worrying uptick in cases, including several tight-knit Hasidic Jewish communities, and warned that some areas could be ordered to close businesses or schools if the numbers do not improve.

De Blasio's announcement came as many elementary school students returned to public schools for the first time on Tuesday, an effort to provide a mix of in-person and virtual learning that had twice been delayed amid opposition by teachers unions.

The city has said it will shut schools again if the seven-day average reaches 3% or more.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday raised the possibility of stopping indoor dining again or reimposing other economic restrictions.

"I don't believe we're at the point of rolling back anything," he said at a news conference. "If the local governments do not do the compliance and attack the clusters, you will be there in the short-term future."

Cuomo, who has feuded with de Blasio over who has authority to impose or loosen containment measures, said he would meet this week with leaders of Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn as well as Nassau, Orange and Rockland counties, where infections have also ticked up.

Beyond New York state, 28 other states were seeing upticks in new coronavirus infections over the past two weeks, and COVID-19 hospitalizations were on the rise in several Midwestern states.

Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin have all reported record numbers of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the past seven days. On Monday, North Dakota reported 105 hospitalizations and Wisconsin 640.

The Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings professional football teams suspended activities after some members of the Titans tested positive for COVID-19 following a game on Sunday, according to statements from the National Football League and the teams.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Fining people for not wearing ineffective paper masks is the new cash cow.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

'De Blasio's announcement came as many elementary school students returned to public schools for the first time on Tuesday, an effort to provide a mix of in-person and virtual learning that had twice been delayed amid opposition by teachers unions. Additionally, de Blasio has said it will shut schools again if the seven-day average reaches 3% or more.'

Other countries focused their energy on opening schools first. Even without the child-care component, school is essential. When I talk to friends around the world — in Scotland, France, Sweden, Greece — they all tell me their schools are opening for live education. Some of these countries have rising rates and some have falling ones, but all have decided that the education of their children was paramount.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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