NYC does not plan to reduce school reopening if a borough’s COVID-19 infection rate is above city threshold

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NEW YORK, NY – The city does not believe the percentage of New Yorkers who test positive for coronavirus by borough will vary so much from the citywide infection rate that school reopening should be reduced geographically, predicted Mayor Bill de Blasio ahead of New York City’s ambitious plan to reopen schools in the fall.

Last month, de Blasio announced that public schools in New York City could only reopen if the city’s coronavirus infection rate remains below 3%.

For weeks, the city as a whole has remained below the 3% threshold since early June. However, in Staten Island, this rate has varied over the weeks.

But de Blasio said he didn’t think the city would see large variations in infection rates by borough.

“I think I’m on a solid footing in saying that now we have a lot of experience with the coronavirus and that we haven’t seen large consistent variations at all across an entire borough,” said de Blasio to reporters at a press conference. with reporters on Thursday when asked if the city would consider closing schools in a particular borough if its infection rate was 3% or more.

“We’re going to be very careful here. If something starts to go in the wrong direction we are going to talk about it very publicly because part of what we would like to do … is tell people to take extra steps to stop any rising rate of infection, ”he said. he told me.

When de Blasio announced that schools could only reopen if the city’s infection rate remained below 3%, the rate of positive coronavirus tests reported in Staten Island rose above 3% for the first time since early June.

However, that rate fell almost 1% in the first week of August.

De Blasio said that at the end of the day the city would look at “different scenarios” but he didn’t think “that’s what we’re going to face.”

“I think it will either be about the city as a whole doing well or God forbid that we are going in the wrong direction.” I think it will be more widespread, ”he said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo last week allowed all schools in the state to reopen in the fall based on the state’s low rate of coronavirus infection.

While New York City’s infection rate cannot exceed 3%, the state’s threshold is 5%.

“I think it’s a really difficult problem and we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it. I think the advantage … of using some kind of geo-restriction would be that yes, you could tailor your answer only to people in that community. The dilemma, of course, is that we have a city in which teachers, staff and students often do not come from a narrowly defined zip code, ”the mayor’s public health adviser Dr Jay Varma said Thursday. .

Varma said the city’s main goal was to “strengthen” its prevention and detection measures by the school and use these schools as a “reference unit”.

Varma used the example of a positive coronavirus sufficient to quarantine an entire class for two weeks and two confirmed cases in one school, enough to shut down the entire school for two weeks.

“This is what you saw with the guidelines published before, on how we would run an individual school in one class, cases in multiple classes. Again, thinking of the students and thinking of the school as the unit in which we are going to plan and investigate, ”said Varma.

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