At a shopping center in the borough on Tuesday, Kathy Melka, who lives in Eltingville, said she takes the virus seriously. She wears a mask outdoors and avoids social gatherings, except for her trips to church. But she said some Staten Islanders seem to be less cautious.
“I think people are getting careless now and congregating in groups without masks on,” Ms. Melka, 70, said. “I saw it in the park the other day.”
The Tottenville and Great Kills neighborhoods on the southern edge of Staten Island have the highest positive test rates in the city, at 5.74 percent and 5.04 percent, according to city data. The overall rate for the borough is 3.38 percent compared with the citywide average of 2.34 percent. Only one of the island’s dozen ZIP codes has a positivity rate below the citywide average.
At Tottenville Bagels, Doug Hopkins, 36, who lives in Woodrow and works in Tottenville, said he only wears a mask when he is indoors.
“When I’m outside, I don’t wear a mask,” he said. “I need to breathe air. Out of respect, I wear it in the store.”
Nearly 20 people waited outside a free testing tent at the Conference House Park visitors center in Tottenville on Tuesday afternoon, including two police officers who work on the island. Paul Christman, a Tottenville resident, was one of few people wearing a mask at the park nearby. Mr. Christman, a 60-year-old retired court officer who has underlying conditions, was out for his daily exercise.
“I’m doing what I need to do for myself and those around me,” he said.
Mr. Christman said health officials had always predicted there will be a spike in the colder months, but President Trump could have set a better example.
“If the president had worn masks, maybe you’d get 10 percent more of the population wearing them and not have the spread you have,” he said. “If you get one more person wearing a mask, it’s a win.”