This story was reported by Matthew Chayes, Michael Gormley and Bart Jones. It was written by Jones.
New York State performed a record-high 87,900 tests for the coronavirus Wednesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said, with daily new positives remaining below 1% for the fifth straight day.
The statewide level of new cases was 0.84%, with Long Island logging in at 0.6% of people tested, according to state data released Thursday. The new high in testing represented a gradual increase from the 87,776 tests completed Tuesday.
"New York State continues to stay vigilant in the face of an ongoing crisis across the country as we pursue a phased reopening," Cuomo said in a statement. "Yesterday we did a record-high number of tests — which is critical to our cautious, data-driven reopening strategy — and we'll keep closely monitoring the numbers we receive daily.”
A total of 737 people were confirmed positive for the virus statewide, including 34 in Nassau County, 39 in Suffolk County, and 438 in New York City.
States/regions in red are included on New York's travel advisory list as of Oct. 27, 2020. Guam and Puerto Rico, not pictured, are also on the list.
Ten people died of causes related to COVID-19 on Wednesday in the state, bringing the total death toll from the pandemic to 25,228.
While coronavirus indicators continued in a positive direction, Cuomo warned against easing up on virus mitigation measures.
“New Yorkers shouldn't get complacent — wear masks, stay socially distanced and wash your hands — and local governments must continue to enforce our guidance throughout the state so we don't go back to the hell we experienced just a couple months ago," he said.
NY travel quarantine order stands
Meanwhile, a federal judge this week dismissed a lawsuit by an Arizona woman who fought New York’s requirement that travelers from states with high COVID-19 infection rates be quarantined for two weeks. Violation of the quarantine under Cuomo’s executive order could carry a $10,000 penalty.
“There is nothing conscience-shocking about the executive order,” wrote Judge David Hurd in his decision dated Monday. “States around the country have been grappling with an unfolding public health crisis.”
The woman, Cynthia Page, was supported by the American Freedom Law Center in Brooklyn that has opposed several government measures it considers infringements on civil and religious rights.
Arizona is on New York’s “restricted list.” Those states have on average an infection rate of 10% or more over seven days. Travelers from those states to New York must quarantine at home or other places secluded from the public. If they develop a fever or other symptoms of the virus, they would need to take further measures, including sleeping in a separate bedroom.
Page’s lawyers called the order “the equivalent of house arrest.”
Page said she doesn’t have COVID-19 and hasn’t been exposed to anyone who tested positive for the virus. But she said the quarantine kept her from a trip to help friends in Brooklyn move. She also said it was her last chance to visit New York City with those friends, and that was “very upsetting.”
NYC schools to be staffed by nurses
In New York City, as debate continued over reopening schools, Mayor Bill de Blasio said a nurse will staff every public school building when in-person learning resumes next month.
Richard Carranza, his schools chancellor, said: “The nurses will be, obviously, the medical expert on the campus.”
Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said: "Parents and educators will be relieved, and the 70,000 students who have gone without will now have access to a medical professional if and when school buildings reopen."
There also will be an “isolation room“ in each building that won’t need to be staffed by medical personnel, though the person would wear personal protective equipment, Carranza said. The post would likely be on a rotation and the staffer could stand in the doorway.
“If a child or an adult is experiencing any symptoms of being sick, they would obviously, with the appropriate PPE, be put into a room where they would wait for somebody to pick them up or take them home,” he said.
School employees’ labor unions, and even individual educators, have voiced concerns about reopening risks. De Blasio has said he takes those concerns seriously but that all teachers, principals and others are duty bound to show up absent a medical exemption.
De Blasio, speaking at his daily press briefing, declined to say how or even whether a teacher or other employee would be disciplined for failing to come to work, absent an exemption.
“We’re not going to answer questions about a negative scenario,” de Blasio said when asked whether an employee could be fired if a no-show.