NEW YORK CITY — All 700 school districts in New York State are developing reopening plans for a reopening that may not happen for longer than first thought.
During a press conference Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said safety of pupils and students will be the biggest factor is any decision on reopening the thousands of schools across the state.
“We want kids back in school for a number of reasons, but we’re not going to say children should go back to school until we know they’re safe,” Cuomo said.
“There are 700 school districts in this state. The state has directed all 700 school districts to develop a plan on how they would reopen,” Cuomo said, emphasizing the word “would.”
“There has been no decision yet as to whether we are reopening schools, we obviously would like to.” He added “We don’t yet know if we’re going to reopen.”
Casinos and movie theaters will remain closed “as of now”, Cuomo said.
The COVID-19 numbers are much better in New York, the governor said, adding he understands people’s frustration with the phases and rules.
“What it means, since we started reopening May 15, the numbers have actually declined since we started reopening,” he explained. “Every expert warned us on the reopening that you could see numbers going up. You monitor the number of cases and control the phased reopening to keep the cases down and that’s just what we’ve done the last seven weeks.”
As research continues, things change regarding COVID-19, Cuomo cautioned. He warned that airborne transmission has become a greater factor than surface transmission.
The worst that could happen, however, is a new spike in infections and deaths, Cuomo said, calling out what he sees as two threats that could cause a new spike in New York.
People becoming complacent about masks, social distancing and their actions is the first threat, he said.
“That is a real threat and that is a threat that I am concerned about, Actions have consequences. Our success was a function of our action. I understand people are fatigued. We’ve been doing this for 128 days. I get it, but it doesn’t change the facts.”
He said the second threat is people coming to New York from the 38 other states showing a spike and a renewed infection rate.
“This is a frightening situation across this country,” he said.
“That’s how the virus got here to begin with. It got on a plane in Europe and it landed in JFK and Newark. No one knew it at the time,” he said. “An outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere.”
Cuomo also continued to fault President Donald Trump for the spike and the issues in several states.
“Somehow COVID has become a political issue, which I’ve never heard of a virus becoming political,” he said.
Trump is denying the seriousness of COVID-19 for some unknown reason, Cuomo charged.
“We’re not the United States of denial. We admit the problem and then we overcome the problem.”
The governor charged that Trump is enabling COVID-19 through his denial of its seriousness and refusal to use a mask.
“Mr. President, don’t be a co-conspirator of COVID,” Cuomo said.”Tell people it exists, it’s a major problem, it’s going to continue until we admit it and each of us stands up to do our part.”
“The President says a lot of things. They are not necessarily facts, they are not necessarily true. He makes up facts, he makes up science,” he said. “He won’t wear a mask because he doesn’t want to admit there’s a COVID problem, why I don’t know.”
Cuomo said Trump is facilitating the virus and enabling the virus.