City Limits staff conducted an unscientific tally at locations across the city: Of the 1,339 New Yorkers we observed, just over 70 percent wore masks.

Sadef Kully

A street in Brooklyn on Tuesday.

As health experts predicted, the fall has seen an alarming surge in the number of new coronavirus cases across the country, including here in New York. On Wednesday, the rate of positive COVID-19 tests for the city was 2.88 percent, while the seven-day rolling average was 2.31 percent — numbers Mayor Bill de Blasio called “very worrisome.”

The uptick has the city considering if it should close schools once again, while Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced new state restrictions, including a 10 p.m. curfew for bars, restaurants and gyms and a ban on indoor and outdoor gatherings at private residences to no more than 10 people.

“We still can fight back the second wave, hold on, keep life in this city going the way it is,” de Blasio said during his press briefing Wednesday.

“That’s still possible, but it is getting tighter and tighter and we need to fight back with everything we’ve got. And that means everybody is responsible,” he added. “So those personal choices around the mask wearing and being particularly careful indoors, social distancing, what kind of gatherings you have or don’t have, travel – you know, all of this are going to be the personal choices New Yorkers make. It will all add up.”

Sadef Kully

It’s been nearly nine months since lockdown measures first went into effect in New York, and residents have been mandated since April to wear face masks in public. Masks are perhaps the most visible of our COVID-19 precautionary measures, and with a potential second wave ahead, City Limits wanted to get a sense of how diligent New Yorkers are currently being with face coverings, all these months later.

To do this, our reporting staff conducted an (admittedly unscientific) tally: we visited different sites around the city and observed who was wearing masks, and who wasn’t.

Our count took place on Tuesday, outdoors, during a sunny and unseasonably warm afternoon where many city residents were walking around. What we saw was encouraging: of the 1,339 people we observed, more than 70 percent, or 941 people, wore masks.

The nearly 400 people we saw not wearing masks included those who were eating, drinking, or smoking as they walked; some were also talking into cell phones. Some had masks visibly on them — around their chins or necks, or in their hands — but not covering their face. Some people were wearing their masks, but incorrectly, with their nose or part of their mouth poking out uncovered.

The locations where we observed people — two busy street corners in Queens, two in Brooklyn and one in the Bronx — saw similar compliance numbers, with at least 66 percent of those we observed masked. Our reporter in Downtown Brooklyn, who staked out a corner Court and Schermerhorn streets, saw the highest percentage of masked passersby, at 74 percent.

Location: Ditmars Boulevard and 31st Street, Queens

Day/Time: Tuesday, 1:35-2:05

Masked: 201 people

Unmasked: 93 people


Location: Court and Schermerhorn streets, Brooklyn

Time: 2:30-3:15 p.m.

Masked: 256 people

Unmasked: 65 people


Location: 3rd avenue and 76th Street, Brooklyn 

Time: 3:15pm-3:35 p.m.

Masked: 116 people

Unmasked: 55 people 


Location: Steinway and Broadway, Queens

Time: 2:15-3:00 p.m.

Masked: 167 people

Unmasked: 86 people


Location: Fordham Road and Webster Avenue, Bronx

Time: 1:45 to 2:15 p.m

Masked: 201 people

Unmasked: 99 people


Total Observed: 1,339 people

Total Masked: 941 people (70.2 percent)

Total Unmasked: 398 people (29.7 percent)

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