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NYC schools won't open if COVID-19 infection rate over 3%, Mayor Bill de Blasio says

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Friday that NYC schools will only reopen and stay open if the infection rate is below 3%. Credit: NY Mayor's Office

New York City won’t open schools unless the citywide coronavirus infection rate is below 3% — a stricter standard than the state’s threshold of 5%, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday.

"We have a particular challenge here in New York City. We were the epicenter. There’s tremendous concern, tremendous trauma, that we’ve been through, and also the conditions of this city: we’re one of the most densely populated places in the country," de Blasio said at his daily news conference. "We’ve fought so hard to come back from this disease. We’re gonna be very cautious to not let there be a resurgence."

The city has been below the 3% threshold for weeks, but if the schools open, and if the infection rate began to rise above the threshold, schools would be closed and there would be other containment measures citywide beyond the schools, de Blasio said.

In the case of one or two confirmed infected students or teachers in an individual classroom, de Blasio said, those assigned to that classroom would be quarantined for 14 days. The entire building would be closed if there were two or more cases in different classrooms. Learning would shift to a remote program, he said.

De Blasio had previously said the city planned to open its public schools in September with a “blended” learning model. Some students could attend school in person as few as two days a week, due to limited space and the need to require social distance between pupils.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has said he would reach a final decision on whether to reopen schools next week.

Meanwhile, the Sunny Atlantic Beach Club closed down Thursday and Friday "out of an abundance of caution” to clean and sanitize after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19, manager Ali Rosenblum said.  

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The club has about 1,000 members. Managing member Howard Taub said the initial plan was to reopen Friday but with rainy weather, they decided to take an extra day to take the cleaning process one step further.

Their plan is to open as normal Saturday. 

A camper and a staff member at the Town of Hempstead’s summer camp for special needs individuals tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours but neither was seriously ill and the camp should open Monday with its usual coronavirus safeguards, officials said on Friday.

Camp Anchor was shut on Friday because of the rain. No indoor programs are allowed during the pandemic, officials said.

"At this time there is no indication that there is an increased risk to the camp as a whole," David Neubert, the town’s medical director, said in a letter Friday to the campers, staffers and other officials.

Camp Anchor is a year-round program. The six-week summer program is held in Lido Beach.

Cuomo said Friday that coronavirus indicators continued to be relatively good across the state. The level of confirmed positive cases in test results from Thursday was 0.93% statewide. The level was 0.9% in both Long Island and New York City.

Of 68,869 test results released Thursday, 644 were confirmed positive for COVID-19, according to state data released Friday.

The number of new confirmed cases was 45 in Nassau County, 54 in Suffolk and 285 in New York City. 

Five people died of coronavirus-related causes in the state on Thursday.

"New York State continues to closely monitor alarming COVID-19 numbers throughout the nation as we flatten the curve, slow the spread and proceed with a data-driven, phased reopening," Cuomo said. "So much of our ability to fight this destructive virus is dependent on what each of us does in day-to-day life, and social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands make a huge difference as we stay New York Smart. I ask New Yorkers to continue practicing those good habits and closely following state guidance, and I urge local governments to enforce that guidance."

Stony Brook Southampton Hospital reported that for the first time since March 8 it had no confirmed COVID-19 admissions and no admitted patients under suspicion for COVID-19. The hospital also said it discharged a recovered COVID-19 patient after 120 days of hospitalization, including about a month on a ventilator.

"This is a significant milestone in our fight against the coronavirus and is a result of the excellent care provided by our medical staff and health care workers," said Robert S. Chaloner, the hospital's chief administrative officer.

"We continue to test all admitted patients for COVID-19," he said. "We request that all our East End communities continue to follow CDC guidelines, including wearing face masks, social distancing, and frequent hand-washing."

The hospital said it was preparing for the potential of a second surge of COVID-19 admissions in the fall. Sign up to get COVID-19 text alerts.

With Matthew Chayes, Joan Gralla and John Valenti

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