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Hundreds of schools close in NYC 'hot spot' zip codes with COVID-19 clusters

Posted at 6:10 AM, Oct 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-06 06:30:49-04

NEW YORK CITY — Around 300 schools across nine New York City coronavirus "hot spots" closed Tuesday morning with students switching to all-remote learning as COVID-19 cases spike in those areas.

The decision was announced Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, one day after Mayor Bill de Blasio asked the state to approve a proposal to shut down all public and private schools, as well as non-essential businesses, in nine city zip codes where the percent of positive cases has been above 3% for more than seven consecutive days.

The zip codes impacted are: 11691; 11219; 11223; 11230; 11204; 11210; 11229; 11415; 11367.

There are about 100 public schools and 200 non-public schools located in the affected areas, according to de Blasio.

Students in these schools have now pivoted to an all-remote learning curriculum.

According to the mayor's proposal, the zip codes would have to hit one of two threshold options in order for schools to reopen:

  • Reopening Threshold One: At least 14 days of shutdown with less than 3% positivity on a 14-day average for the last seven consecutive days.
  • Reopening Threshold Two: At least 28 days of shutdown with less than 3% positivity on a 14-day average at the end of that time period.

Cuomo did not direct non-essential businesses to close, as de Blasio had requested. However, the mayor later said at a separate news briefing Monday afternoon that he plans to move forward with enforcing the closure of non-essential businesses in hot spot zip codes, unless he's told not to.

The governor expressed concerns Monday about categorizing coronavirus clusters by zip code. He suggested the state is looking into other ways to geographically define clusters and, once that is determined, he would reconsider closing non-essential businesses in those areas.

Cuomo also issued a strong warning to religious institutions, which he said have been a source for spreading the virus via large gatherings: If institutions in hot spot areas won't agree to enforce and follow rules, he will close them.

Despite 20 zip codes with coronavirus clusters in the state, Cuomo emphasized that New York still has a low percent of positive cases when compared to other states and countries.

The combined percent of positive cases in the 20 hot spot zip codes was 5.5% on Sunday. The statewide percent positivity without the 20 zip codes, which are being over-sampled due to increased testing, was 1.01%. The statewide percent positivity including the 20 hot spot zip codes was 1.22%.