Gov. Cuomo on schools: ‘We’ll reopen if it’s safe, we’re not going to use our children as guinea pigs’

State News

NEW YORK CITY (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave a coronavirus update from New York City Monday, where he said masks were imperative in driving down the spread of COVID-19.

“It is about following the data and following the science and taking the precautions and doing what’s right,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It is about masks; masks work, we can tell you that here in New York. We had the worst spike per capita on the globe and we brought it down. Those masks work. We were the first state to start mandatory masks April 15, and all the science says for sure, masks make a big difference.”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms joined the briefing via zoom, and she was praised by the governor.

“You’ve been inspiring,” Gov. Cuomo said to Mayor Lance Bottoms. “They refer to you as a rising star and they are all correct and we are with you; anything we can do for you or the city, we stand ready. We remember how good the people of this country were to us.”

“We’re headed in the wrong direction,” said Mayor Lance Bottoms. “So as a city we’ve recommended that we go back to phase one, which is essentially a stay at home order and also we’ve instituted a mask mandate. It’s very simple, unless we have a coordinated approach across this country, we are gong to continuously, unnecessarily, watch people die.

“We didn’t have to look to Italy, we could have looked to New York and you told us very clearly that if we didn’t do things differently in our cities and states then we would find ourselves in the same situation New York was facing, and unfortunately you are correct,” said Mayor Lance Bottoms.

“The unfortunate and frustrating thing is, why did other states have to deal with this?” Gov, Cuomo said. “I mean we knew what we were dealing with, New York went through this before.”

In regards to New York’s numbers, the governor says there are good numbers in every region of the state and 792 virus hospitalizations is the lowest number since March 18.

“We live and die by the data and all the numbers are good,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Death toll for yesterday is 10 people. Again, we’d love to see that number at 0, but compared to where we’ve been that is a very good place to be.

“51,000 tests yesterday and it was just over 1%,” Gov Cuomo said. “So it is all good news on where we are as a state, And the numbers show that what we have done, in terms of our reopening strategy and plan, has worked, and it shows that this nation can defeat COVID.”

Earlier Monday, the New York State Department of Education released a new 28-page document for guidance on schools reopening.

MORE | New York state releases guidance on reopening schools in new 28-page document

School districts across New York are to submit their specific reopening plans to the state government by the end of July. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last week the state would make a “universal decision” in the first week of August about the prospect of schools reopening for the fall.

“There is a state formula that will determine if it is safe to reopen schools,” Gov. Cuomo said durign Monday’s briefing. “So open schools or not there is a state formula that determines it. There is state guidelines as to how that schools reopen.”

According to the guidance, “New York is a large and diverse state – so there will be no ‘one size fits all’ model for reopening our schools.”

“Everybody wants to reopen the schools,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I want to reopen the schools. It’s not ‘do we reopen or not.’ You reopen if it is safe to reopen. How do you know if it is safe? You look at the data. We’re not going to use our children as guinea pigs. We’re not going to use our children as a litmus test and we’re not going to put our children in a place where their health is endangered.

“Common sense and intelligence can still determine what we do even in this challenging environment,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Schools will reopen if that region is in phase four and the daily infection rate remains 5% or lower over a 14 day average. That means the virus is under control, that means the schools are safe to reopen.

“This determination will be made in the first week of August,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The safety valve; schools will close if the regional infection rate is above 9% on a seven-day average. The day schools opens, we will continue to monitor every day, and if the infection rate goes over 9% we hit the emergency stop button.”

Although the governor says the numbers trend in a positive direction, he says he remains concerned about the possibility of a second wave.

“All of our numbers are good,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Bad news is we have to keep them that way and there are challenges; there are two threats. First is lack of compliance by New Yorkers. We get arrogant, we get cocky, weather is warm, numbers are good. Second, is the virus comes to New York and this is a very real threat and it is Déjà vu all over again.”

The governor was once again critical of the federal government’s handling of the pandemic.

“This is their [federal government] political agenda,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Over public health policy, this is politically inconvenient in an election year, so deny it. Except you are jeopardizing public health and you’re loosing lives by your denial and political agenda.

“When there’s a federal emergency, it’s dependent on the federal government and they abandoned their post and left it up to the states,” Gov. Cuomo said. “At the end of the day, science trumps politics. Politics does not trump science. You don’t defeat a virus with politics. You defeat a virus by using science and medicine. That was true from day one.

“Trump’s COVID scandal makes what Nixon did at Watergate look innocent,” Gov. Cuomo said.
Nobody died in the Watergate scandal. Thousands of people are going to die in this COVID scandal, and that is all the difference in the world.”

The are currently 19 states on the coronavirus travel advisory, which requires incoming travelers from these states to self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival. Monday, the governor announced more strict measures for reporting individuals who are coming to New York from states with high-infection rates.

“You must give officials at the airport your form as to where you came from and where you’re going,” Gov. Cuomo said. “If you leave the airport without providing the information, you will receive a summons immediately with a $2,000 fine. None of this is pleasant, but we’ve gone through this before.”

The governor did say that essential workers were exempt from the self-quarantine imposed by incoming travel.

MORE | 3 more states added to New York coronavirus travel advisory, incoming travelers to self-quarantine

Before the question and answer session of the briefing with reporters, the governor once again thanked New Yorkers for their collective diligence in keeping the virus at bay.

“They will be talking about what we did for decade to come, it really was a historic moment,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Personally traumatic, socially traumatic, and historic.”

Locally, Sunday marked the fifth day in a row with no COVID-19 deaths in Monroe County. To date, 277 Monroe County residents have died from the virus. Officials say there were 28 new cases of the coronavirus since Saturday, for a total of 3,992 cases in Monroe County.

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

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