New York City’s public schools will close and transition to remote learning Thursday as coronavirus cases continue to rise, officials announced Wednesday.
“Given recent increases in transmission, we have reached a point in our City’s infection rate that requires all students to transition to remote learning,” Chancellor Richard Carranza said in a letter to parents.
The city has reached its threshold to close schools: a 3% testing positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average, Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted. “We must fight back the second wave of COVID-19,” de Blasio said.
Earlier this week, de Blasio said he would work with the state to reopen schools as soon and safely as possible, but Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday said the plan for reopening is still unclear.
Cuomo, in a news conference, said New York State’s positivity rate is currently 2.88%. Total hospitalizations remain at 2,202, while 35 people died on Wednesday. As COVID-19 cases rise around the country, Cuomo said no state in the nation has a positivity rate below 2%. Data from Johns Hopkins still shows the U.S. leading the global number of cases, with over 11,400,000 positive cases.
According to Cuomo, New Yorkers “deserve credit” for the low positivity rate, which he called “great news relative to everyone else.” However, Cuomo also cited western New York’s positivity rate as a microcluster. He claims cases there are spiking because smaller non-city locations that had lower rates earlier in the year failed to feel the “painful reality” that New Yorkers experienced first hand.
National health experts have also predicted an additional spike in cases, as the weather continues to cool and many begin the start of holiday seasons such as Thanksgiving. In New York State, residents are advised to skip gatherings with family members outside of their bubbles and restrict indoor gatherings to less than 10 people. Even with restrictions, Cuomo said he expects Thanksgiving to cause a massive spike in COVID-19 cases. “Your family sounds safe,” said Cuomo. “Your dining room table at Thanksgiving sounds safe. No, you won’t be safe —it’s an illusion.”