New York governor releases new guidance on school reopening in fall
Public schools in the US state of New York can reopen in fall if located in phase-four reopening regions where daily infection rate remains 5 percent or lower over a 14-day average, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday.
"That means the virus is under control. That means it's safe to reopen and then the schools can proceed to reopening in that region," he said at a briefing.
The state's Education Department presented a framework for the school reopening guidance to the state's Board of Regents on Monday, which includes health checks and screenings, school bus disinfection and social distancing.
Cuomo said he would leave it to the 700 school districts across the state to come up with a specific plan pursuant to those guidelines.
The governor also announced that the state would deploy testing and contact tracing teams to Atlanta as the city continues to experience an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.
Cuomo told Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who joined the briefing via a video link, that as New York is in a stable period, it can do "anything we can" to help Atlanta combat COVID-19, especially on testing and tracing.
"We remember how good the people across this country were to us," he said. "I'll send a team down to Atlanta and they can work with your people and whatever we know and whatever we can share we will do."
Bottoms thanked Cuomo, and both of them noted the significance of a nationally coordinated mask policy in lowering the spread of coronavirus.
Cuomo said that the IHME model used by the White House projected last week that 40,000 more Americans would die if a national mask policy is absent.
"Those masks work. We were the first state to start mandatory masks on April 15. All the science now says for sure masks make a big difference," he said.
He was echoed by Bottoms, who had contracted the coronavirus herself as well as her husband and kid. "Unless we have a coordinated approach across this country we are going to continue to unnecessarily watch people die," she said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also underlined the importance of keeping masks on by issuing new guidance on face covering on Monday.
The guideline says that people should wear a face covering indoors when around other people in a setting that is not their home.
The mayor said at his briefing that face covering has been "one of the biggest game-changers" in combating COVID-19. As more and more people going back to work, it may be difficult for people to strictly follow social distancing all the time.
"If you're at a store, even if there seems to be a lot of space, just keep that face covering on all the time. It's a good precaution. Anytime there are people around, keep it on," he said.
The mayor said the city will also launch a public outreach campaign targeting younger New Yorkers, with cases rising among New Yorkers under the age of 40, especially between the ages of 20-29.
The city will conduct outreach through popular bars, restaurants, and waterfront locations, offering tests on nearby mobile vans and giving away masks, according to the mayor.
"Younger New Yorkers are not invincible to COVID-19. My plea is simple: please get tested, practice social distancing, wear your face coverings, and take all the necessary precautions to keep each other safe," he said.
The state of New York has reported 401,706 COVID-19 cases, and the positivity rate on Sunday's testing was 1.08 percent, according to Cuomo.