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Gov. Cuomo: Schools reopening is matter of public health, parents’ voices need to be heard

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NEW YORK CITY (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a briefing Monday on New York’s COVID-19 response effort on day 156 of the pandemic in the state.

Regarding Monday’s virus data, the governor says the numbers remain good statewide, with 536 virus hospitalizations, and three new deaths. The governor said 136 New Yorkers in the ICU with the virus, and 62 patients intubated — all at, or near, the lowest rates since mid-March.

“After two and a half months of reopening, the numbers have actually gone down, which nobody suggested and that is really a compliment to New Yorkers — we started reopening May 15,” Gov. Cuomo said.

The governor still warned New Yorkers about the threat of a second wave, as cases continue to rise in different regions throughout the country.

“Look at whats going on across the country, look at those increases, look at what we’re dealing with in terms of now 39 states on the quarantine list, and look at incidents of lack of compliance — the numbers are a result of the actions,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It is just really reckless, rude, irresponsible and illegal.”

Earlier Monday, the governor announced the reopening of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center.

A few weeks ago, the governor said the state would announce the decision to reopen or not to reopen schools during the first week of August. Districts statewide submitted their individual reopening plans to the state for review on Friday.

“I will make a decision on schools this week,” Gov. Cuomo said. “This is an issue of public health. Just because a district says ‘you shouldn’t be worried about your child’s health.’ That’s not enough.”

The governor said it was important to note that it’s not just a district decision, but that teachers, parents and students needed to be included in the ongoing discussion regarding reopening.

“It’s not ‘well the government said the schools are open, now everybody must go,'” Gov. Cuomo said. “It’s not going to happen that way. They’re informed, parents. They’re the most informed people on this issue, probably in the country — they’ve lived through it. They’re going to have questions. This is not going to be the school district puts out a plan and by dictatorship that is the plan. You need the parents to be comfortable, you need the teachers to be comfortable, you need the children to show up at school and there’s going to have to be a discussion.”

MORE | Teachers in Rochester plan to protest reopening of public schools Monday on 490 overpass

The governor also said that the possibility of schools remaining closed poses a number of threats.

“Not opening schools is also highly problematic,” Gov. Cuomo said. “You know it effects socialization, you know it subjects some to dangerous situations, you know some kids have insecure food situations, you know there’s a huge economic disparity in terms of remote learning.”

The governor continued to warn about the growing infection rates elsewhere in the country, and remains critical of the federal government’s handling of the pandemic.

“We said we have two threats: We have the lack of compliance and we have the national situation,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The national situation is getting worse, it’s not getting better.

“You have medical experts who are now saying we should hit the reset button, that the nation should shut down and start over. That’s the only way to stop the virus. That’s what medical experts are saying,” Gov. Cuomo said. “That’s a damning commentary on where we are. Hit the reset button, just close all the states and start over. Look, you want to start over? You want to hit the reset button in this country? We start this time with the truth, we do something different that was done in this country six months ago when this started.

“Tell the American people the truth,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The truth is it was a mistake to deny COVID, it was a mistake to downplay COVID. It was a mistake to say its just the flu, it was a mistake to say it will be gone by Easter. They sent the wrong message to the American people because some people heard the American president and they believed him. Tell the truth — the truth is it was a mistake that when you say what was going on in New York five months ago, you didn’t heed the warning.

“Six months later these states still don’t have testing and contact tracing,” Gov. Cuomo said. “How can it be? You had six months. Here in New York we had two weeks, we we’re ambushed. If we don’t tell the truth on the reset, COVID will never end, and it will ricochet across the country. It will just bounce back and fourth. The truth is COVID is serious, it is deadly serious and it’s deadly serious for all of us.

“This was a colossal blunder, how COVID was handled by this federal government. Shame on all of you,” Gov. Cuomo said.

On Monday, Gov. Cuomo also signed legislation that extends the lookback window included in the Child Victims Act. Claims can now be filed until August 14, 2021.

“The Child Victims Act brought a long-needed pathway to justice for people who were abused and helps right wrongs that went unacknowledged and unpunished for far too long and we cannot let this pandemic limit the ability for survivors to have their day in court,” Gov. Cuomo said in a press release Monday. “As New York continues to reopen and recover from a public health crisis, extending the lookback window is the right thing to do and will help ensure that abusers and those who enabled them are held accountable.”

The governor also signed legislation that makes booze-infused ice cream and frozen desserts legal in New York.

The legislation will help New York’s dairy farmers, liquor and craft beverage producers, dairy processors and manufacturers, food retailers and restaurants meet the increasing consumer demand for these new products, according to the Governor.

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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