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Health Team

NYC virus rate stays below school-closing threshold, for now

Posted November 16, 2020 12:40 p.m. EST
Updated November 16, 2020 12:42 p.m. EST

West Brooklyn Community High School principal Malk Lewis explains a concept during a combination current events/trivia quiz and pizza party, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, in New York. The high school caters to students who haven't done well elsewhere, giving them a chance to graduate and succeed. On Thursday, Lewis decided to hold the quiz/pizza party to reward the nine students of a possible 58 students under a blended learning program. In normal times, the school can accomodate over 200 students, but with the coronavirus, they're limited to 58. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

— New York City's coronavirus test results have not reached the level that would trigger a shutdown of public school buildings, so schools will remain open for now, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday.

“Thankfully, schools will remain open on Monday, but we have to keep fighting back with everything we’ve got,” de Blasio said on Twitter.

De Blasio had warned Friday that schools could close as soon as Monday if the city crossed the threshold set earlier of 3% of coronavirus tests citywide coming back positive over a seven-day period. The rate stayed short of that on Sunday, at 2.57%, he said.

“We have a struggle ahead right now, I’m not going to lie to you," the mayor told worshipers at the Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn, " but I do want to let you know schools is open tomorrow, and that’s a blessing. And every additional day school is open is a blessing.”

New York City's public school system, by far the nation's largest with more than a million students, was one of few big-city districts to reopen classrooms this fall after the pandemic forced schools across the United States online in the spring.

Parents were given a choice of all-remote instruction or a “blended learning” system with students in class some days and learning online the other days.

About 280,000 students have attended in person, fewer than city officials had expected.

New York City and the rest of the state have struggled to contain rising rates of coronavirus infections in recent weeks. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said there were more than 1,800 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state on Saturday and 30 deaths. In the seven-day period that ended Saturday, there have been an average of about 4,450 new COVID-19 infections in the state per day.

In a speech at Riverside Church in Manhattan, Cuomo threatened legal action if a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes available and is distributed in an inequitable manner while Republican President Donald Trump is in office.

“The president talks about CVS and Walgreens and national chains,” Cuomo said, repeating a criticism he has made previously. “Sure, but they are mainly located in rich communities, not in poor communities. My friends, we can’t compound the racial injustice that COVID already created.”

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In a story November 15, 2020, about the coronavirus pandemic in New York, The Associated Press erroneously reported the average number of people per day testing positive for the virus. In the seven-day period that ended Saturday, New York state reported an average of about 4,450 new cases per day, not 3,900.

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