A plan for schools in New York that were forced to tele-educate students due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is expected by the end of the week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
At his daily COVID-19 news briefing on Tuesday, April 28, held during a visit to SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, Cuomo said that he and his aides would have formulated a plan regarding the fates of schools for the rest of the academic year, as well as summer school, by the end of the week.
Cuomo also noted that he is unsure about whether college campuses in the state will be open to students for the fall semester, adding that “(he) can’t tell you what September looks like.”
“We’re going to coordinate this regionally, and you have to coordinate all the schools, transportation, tracing, testing, businesses, and it’s going to be a multi-county effort in that region,” he said. “You’re going to see some states reopening, so it would make sense for some states to reopen schools.
“Fifty governors have 50 different situations. Some states have a (minor) problem, then you have me who has the worst situation in the country.”
Cuomo cautioned that while some regions upstate would be able to begin slowly reopening some non-essential businesses, it was key not to jump the gun, otherwise, the virus could come back and be more devastating.
He said that regions will only reopen if they are below 70 percent hospital capacity and the transmission rate of the virus remains under 1.1 people while outlining other necessary guidelines. (See second image above.)
“We want to ‘Unpause New York’ on May 15 when the regulations expire statewide, but I will be extending them to some parts of the state,” Cuomo added. “But in some regions, you could make the case that we should unpause on May 15, but you have to be smart about it. We all have to be smart about it.
“Remember we have gone through hell and back over the past 60 or so days. What New Yorkers have done has been to save lives, but we have to stay vigilant,” he continued.
“This is not over, even if we want it to be so. We literally saved lives. We can’t now negate everything that we accomplished.”
Cuomo said that they are looking ahead to September, when flu season begins, to ensure that hospitals aren’t overwhelmed by flu and potential COVID-19 cases.
“Flu season will take up our testing and hospital capacity. We’re going to have labs doing COVID-19 testing, but that will be diminished if they have to do flu testing as well,” he said. “When flu season comes, if someone is feely achy and coughing, they’re going to think it’s the flu or COVID.
The governor continued: “Having the flu is one thing, having COVID is something else. So you’re going to run to the Emergency Room and then you have the hospital capacity rising too high.”
There were an additional 335 COVID-19 deaths, Cuomo announced, bringing the confirmed death total to 17,638 in New York since the outbreak began 59 days ago. There were approximately 900 new COVID-19 patients, down from approximately 1,000 the day before.
“We want to reopen, but we want to do it without infecting more people or overwhelming the hospital system," Cuomo stated. "That’s the balance.”
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