Cuomo says New York schools can reopen in-person this fall

Cuomo says New York schools can reopen in-person this fall
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New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoNew York reports 1,000 daily new COVID-19 cases for first time since June Overnight Health Care: Trump signs largely symbolic pre-existing conditions order amid lawsuit | White House puts off action on surprise medical bills | Rising coronavirus cases spark fears of harsh winter NY health officials to review any vaccine approved by Trump MORE (D) announced Friday that schools can reopen this fall, citing low infection rates that he said will allow students and teachers to return to classrooms safely.

"It is just great news," Cuomo told reporters. "We are probably in the best situation in the country right now."

When and how schools reopen will be left up to individual school districts. However, Cuomo warned that if the seven-day rolling average of tests coming back positive exceeds 9 percent in a particular region, schools in that area must close.

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New York’s response to COVID-19 has been widely touted as one of the success stories of the pandemic. While the virus initially hit the state hard, especially in New York City, it was able to contain the virus with strict public health measures, including lockdowns, mask requirements and a slow, phased reopening of businesses.

The percent of tests coming back positive in New York is about 1 percent — one of the lowest levels in the country.

Cuomo’s decision is sure to please President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments Ocasio-Cortez: Trump contributed less in taxes 'than waitresses and undocumented immigrants' Third judge orders Postal Service to halt delivery cuts MORE, who has pressured governors and local leaders to fully reopen schools this fall. In making their argument, the Trump administration has cited the adverse effects of school closures on children's health. Reopening would also provide Trump a much-needed boost to the economy as more parents would be free to head back to work.

Public health experts say it’s important to reopen schools in some capacity to avert the negative consequences of closures on children's health, but they have also stressed that the decisions to reopen should depend on the transmission levels of individual communities. 

While children are far less likely to experience serious COVID-19 symptoms, it is still unclear what role they play in spreading the virus to adults.

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It will be harder for schools to reopen safely in communities where there are high levels of COVID-19 transmission, experts say.

“In the hot zones, you have to take that on a case by case basis, and make a decision based on the welfare of the kids, as well as the feasibility of being able to open up,” Anthony FauciAnthony FauciTillis appears to reinforce question about COVID-19 death toll Overnight Health Care: Trump signs largely symbolic pre-existing conditions order amid lawsuit | White House puts off action on surprise medical bills | Rising coronavirus cases spark fears of harsh winter NY health officials to review any vaccine approved by Trump MORE, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said last week on MSNBC.

Still, schools that reopen should space desks six feet apart, encourage face mask wearing and follow other public health measures, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

--Updated at 12:40 pm.