Coronavirus Updates: Cuomo Hints At New Restrictions, But Won’t Intervene In NYC Schools Shutdown – Gothamist

This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Friday, November 13th, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.

New York City is in Phase 4 of reopening now, which includes zoos, botanical gardens, museums, and gyms. Certain parts of Brooklyn and Queens are under a zoned shutdown. Get answers to questions you may have with our “Ask An Epidemiologist” series, or learn more about NYC COVID-19 testing options with our explainer. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.

Here’s the latest:

Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Friday that he would not intervene in a potential shutdown of New York City public schools, even as he hinted at further COVID lockdown measures to slow the accelerating spread of the virus.

New York saw more than 5,000 positive COVID cases on Thursday, a first since April. The number of total hospitalizations — now at 1,737 — reached the highest level it’s been since June.

After downplaying the prospects of a virus surge on Monday, Cuomo said he now expected the numbers to “deteriorate in the coming weeks.”

During a press briefing with reporters earlier today, Cuomo said he’d planned an emergency summit with other northeast governors to discuss a shared COVID strategy.

“We believe we’re going to have to be taking additional steps and to the degree we can share information and align action, we’ll do that,” he said.

Those new steps would not, Cuomo insisted, involve the NYC public school system, which Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to close once the citywide positivity rates exceed 3%. That trigger could come as soon as Monday, angering some parents and principals, who note that rates of infection across the school system remain low.

But while Cuomo has repeatedly overruled the mayor’s pandemic proposals in the past — including the first schools closure in march — the governor said he had no plans to interfere in the latest schools fight.

“We left it to local districts to work with the parents and teachers to come up with parameters,” Cuomo said.

He added that he hoped schools would reopen quickly, if they did need to close, and called on the mayor and union leaders to agree to a more targeted metric for shutting down in the future.

“The infection rate in the schools is not the problem,” he said, before offering his own opinion on the hotly-contested decision: “If schools were open, I think it would be better.”

Chicago Mayor Urges Residents To Stay At Home For A Month 

Starting on Monday, Chicago residents will be encouraged to stay at home for a month in an effort to fend off a second coronavirus wave threatening to overwhelm the city’s hospitals.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the non-mandatory stay-at-home advisory on Thursday, one day after the state’s department of health issues similar guidance.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker warned that more drastic restrictions may be coming.

“If things don’t take a turn in the coming days, we will quickly reach the point when some form of a mandatory stay-at-home order is all that will be left,” Pritzker said at a coronavirus briefing. “With every fiber of my being, I do not want us to get there. But right now, that seems like where we are heading.”

The Chicago Tribune reported that the seven-day statewide positivity rate for Illinois as of Wednesday, up from 8% on November 1st and up from 4.3% a month ago.

U.S. Shatters Record For New Daily Virus Cases

Heading into the holidays and colder weather in many states, the pandemic keeps accelerating, with record numbers of new daily COVID-19 infections nearly every day.

On Thursday, the U.S. recorded somewhere between 151,000 and more than 160,000 new coronavirus cases, according to various news outlets. The Washington Post tallied 18 states with all-time high numbers of hospitalizations.

The COVID Tracking Projects estimated that one in every 378 U.S. residents has tested positive for COVID-19 this week. In New York state, it comes out to one in every 722 residents.

Across the country, cities and states are imposing new restrictions to tamp down the surge.

In New York state, bars and restaurants with liquor licenses will be required to close at 10 p.m. beginning Friday. After 10 p.m., restaurants can still sell food for curbside pickup and delivery.

In addition, gyms and all indoor gatherings at private residences will be limited to 10 people.

Similarly, New Jersey has also ordered indoor dining to stop at 10 p.m. Governor Phil Murphy has also said that municipalities regulating business hours after 8 p.m. to help combat the spread of COVID-19. Newark, the state’s biggest city, will have a mandatory 9 p.m. curfew in three ZIP codes in the city’s East Ward.

In Connecticut, 80% of the state has been placed under a “red alert” warning, meaning that municipalities have the option of rolling back their reopenings to impose more restrictions.

A study by the state’s health professionals found that restaurants were the top source for outbreaks.