Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last month.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last month. Credit: Office of the Governor / Mike Groll via AP

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Saturday that he believes the state's COVID-19 infection rate will continue to rise through the holidays, even as he offered a suggestion he said might prevent the widespread closure of schools in New York City.

Mayor Bill de Blasio had warned on Friday that the city's public schools could indefinitely shut down in-person learning if the seven-day average positivity rate hit the city-set 3% threshold.

But Cuomo suggested adding another measure to the monitoring of the virus: the infection rate in each city school. That would require ramping up testing in the schools, but it might establish that the school is not the cause of virus spread in the community.

"You test the students in that school and if that school is not presenting a problem, then allow the school to operate. I think New York City should seriously consider that," Cuomo said during a morning press briefing.

De Blasio’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

De Blasio had said Friday that city schools could go virtual as soon as Monday if the city’s positive rate tops 3% after inching upward all week. The rate reported Friday was 2.83%, but it had fallen to 2.47% in Saturday morning’s report, de Blasio’s Twitter account posted.

In New York City, a total of 97 patients were admitted to hospitals Friday, and there were 926 new cases, according to city figures.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo says New Yorkers will not be bullied, following President Donald Trump's remarks about possibly withholding a COVID-19 vaccine from the state. Newsday's Steve Langford has the story. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.; NY Gov. Office; White House; AFP via Getty Images / Timothy A. Clary

Bracing for a holiday rise

Cuomo also said he believes the state's infection rate, already on an upward swing, will worsen through the holiday season, as people celebrate Thanksgiving and other holidays together.

The state conducted 184,162 tests Friday, with 5,388 registering as positive, for an overall infection rate of 2.9%, he said.

The positivity rate in areas where there are clusters of virus activity was 4.8%, he said.

A total of 24 people died of virus-related illness Friday, Cuomo said.

"It is a rising tide of COVID-19 internationally," Cuomo said. "The rate of increase is less in New York, but it is an increase."

Cuomo also continued his war of words with President Donald Trump, who had suggested withholding a coronavirus vaccine from New Yorkers.

Trump wrote on Twitter: "The problem is (Cuomo) said that he will delay using it, and other states WANT IT NOW."

Cuomo responded Saturday, saying, "If that's what the president believes, he has an abusive personality. He's been nothing but hostile to New York from Day One."

The governor pointed to several polls that indicated many Americans don't trust a vaccine, and noted that New York is putting together a team of experts to review any federal approval of one.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio last month.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio last month. Credit: Mayoral Photography Office / Michael Appleton

Moreover, Cuomo said, the review process would not delay vaccine distribution.

The picture on LI

Overall, Long Island has a virus positivity level of 3.3%, around where it has hovered for days, according to state figures.

In Nassau County, 417 residents tested positive for COVID-19 out of a record number of 13,724 tested, putting the rate at 3%, County Executive Laura Curran said.

Nassau’s hospitals reported 127 COVID-19-related patients, she said.

"The recent increase in disease activity over the past week is a grave reminder of how easily and quickly this virus can spread," Curran said.

Central Islip High School. The school district is going remote...

Central Islip High School. The school district is going remote for a week after Thanksgiving. Credit: James Carbone

The total number of cases in Nassau reached 53,688.

Suffolk had 449 cases for a total of 52,942, the state figures said.

A total of 3.7% of those tested in Suffolk were positive, according to county figures, and 77 people were hospitalized.

With John Asbury and Matthew Chayes

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