New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an update to the state’s COVID-19 response by directing schools in hotspot ZIP codes to temporarily close in-person learning.
On Monday, Cuomo identified 20 such areas, including the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, and the counties of Rockland and Orange counties, that are yielding a 5.5 percent positive COVID-19 rates. Meanwhile, the remainder of the state has seen a 1.01 percent positive rate.
Cuomo directed schools in these hotspot regions to close in-person learning as soon as Tuesday. He added that New York state needs more data on the threat that COVID-19 poses in schools.
“My number one concern has always been schools,” Cuomo said. “I said to the parents of this state, I will not send, I will not allow your child to be sent to any school that I would not send my child, period. And you have my personal word on that. I’ve spoken to thousands of parents who have called up and said, I’m worried about sending my child to school. I said I won’t allow a school to open that I wouldn’t send my child to. That’s my test.”
The closures come almost two months after Cuomo announced that New York state had a virus transmission below the threshold necessary to reopen all schools for in-person learning. What was once a global hotspot and the U.S. epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, New York state had been on the decline of COVID-19 cases since April.
However, the state is now seeing a slight increase in cases over the past two weeks.
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Cuomo added that he will be meeting with the communities in Brooklyn and Queens as well as the counties of Rockland, Orange and Nassau to address religious gatherings. The state will also now be overseeing enforcement in statewide hot spot clusters.
On Sunday, Cuomo announced the state is deploying personnel to directly enforce state guidance within the hotspot ZIP codes. “New York State will review the data in affected ZIP codes, gather more school data, and determine criteria for reopening the schools,” the press release stated.