Cuomo, de Blasio on same page in warning of more restrictions amid COVID-19 second wave

Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio in a side-by-side address on March 2, 2020 about the first coronavirus case in New York City. (Photo by Mark Hallum)
Photo by Mark Hallum

After tensions between the city and state on a decision to close schools manifested in angst from Governor Andrew Cuomo directed at reporters at a Wednesday press conference, both he and Mayor Bill de Blasio said it was only a matter of time before more closures would be instituted.

Indoor dining, gyms and salons are allowed to continue operating as usual under the restrictions that have been in place for a number of days. Schools were announced to move to full remote learning by de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza.

“The schools are safer than the surrounding communities and the trigger for the schools in New York City is lower than the trigger for indoor dining, etc. I said that repeatedly. The state law is yellow zone, orange zone, right? Orange zone is triggered at 3% in a micro cluster in a local area that is actually tougher on businesses than it is on schools. In an orange zone, indoor dining closes at 3%. A school closes also at 3% but a school can test out in an orange zone,” Cuomo said during his Nov. 19 conference call with reporters. “Schools close but the school can test out – test the students, make sure it’s safe – and then the school can operate, which they did in Brooklyn and Queens, some of them.”

Cuomo said discretion was left to local school districts on whether or not to go fully remote with classes due to a rise in infections for which the mayor made a decision on yesterday.

The 3% infection rate, according to Cuomo, is balance on a seven-day average. On Wednesday, the governor said New York City could become an orange zone if cases rise on a seven-day average with an infection rate of 2.9%, which was adjusted to 2.5% on Thursday.

The average for the city on Wednesday was 2.5% and as of today was 2.53%, according to the governor’s office.

The mayor was not far from the same point on earlier on Thursday, with a foreboding message to business owners to brace for possible shutdowns.

“A lot of people’s frustration emanated from the fact that they thought there was another kind of disparity. They looked at schools closing, and a lot of people say, what about restaurants?” de Blasio said. “I’m sorry to tell you that for the sake of those business owners and everyone who loves those gyms and loves indoor dining, it’s just a matter of time. It’s very likely to be in the next week or two, and I think you’re going to see that across the board, that there’s going to have to be a lot of tough choices to move us forward.”

According to Cuomo, however, these prospects must balanced now by New York having the third lowest statewide infection rate in the nation behind Vermont and Maine.

He cautioned that the period between now and January, when a vaccine may become available and President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in, will still be a “dangerous” period for containing the spread.

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