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Schools to close in 'hot spot' NYC zip codes with coronavirus clusters: Cuomo

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Posted at 12:41 PM, Oct 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-05 18:12:08-04

NEW YORK CITY — New York City schools in "hot spot" zip codes seeing spikes in coronavirus cases will close beginning Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.

The decision was announced 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 will now pivot to an all-remote learning curriculum.

The governor said his decision to close schools in the nine zip codes was due, in part, to a lack of adequate testing.

"This worries me," Cuomo said, adding that schools are one of several ways in which viral spread of coronavirus occurs.

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.

When asked why schools in Rockland and Orange counties' hot spots would not be closed, Cuomo said it is not at "the same level of problem," but added he would speak to community leaders Tuesday.

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 hot spot 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 statewide 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%.