This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Friday, July 17th, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.
New York City is in Phase 3 of reopening now, which includes nail salons, tattoo parlors, and massage facilities as well as recreation like tennis and basketball courts; dog runs are also reopening. A look at preparing for the spread of coronavirus is here, and if you have lingering questions about the virus, here is our regularly updated coronavirus FAQ. 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:
11:00 a.m. Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York City is headed for Phase 4 of the reopening on Monday, July 20th. However, the only industries that will be able to reopen are those that operate outdoors. “It's all about safety. We want people to get back to work, we people to get their livelihoods back, we want to get our city back. But safety and health first,” he said during his Friday press conference.
Low-risk outdoor arts and entertainment activities, like botanical gardens and zoo, will be able to reopen; “Outdoors has proven to be the area where we're seeing a lot of things work successfully,” he said. Also, professional sports will resume, but without fans in the stands—the Yankees and Mets actually have two exhibition games this weekend.
Further, media production of movies, music videos, and television, can restart. What is not resuming is any sort of indoor cultural activity and any kind of indoor dining.
The mayor said the governor's office will have a formal announcement about the move to Phase 4 with further details; New York State's lockdown—or PAUSE, as Governor Andrew Cuomo dubbed it—began on March 22nd.
NY State Releases Guidance On School Reopening Plans—With Few Concrete Details
New York state’s Education Department released more guidance for school districts on reopening plans Thursday, but the guidance left key details up to individual districts, including how to handle COVID-19 outbreaks in school communities.
The 145-page “Recovering, Rebuilding, and Renewing: The Spirit of New York’s Schools” provided broad outlines of how the state’s schools will reopen this fall, including guidance on preparing school buildings for in-person learning:
“Schools and school districts should promote social distancing while maintaining existing safety requirements designed to protect students. To accomplish this, schools may expand their physical footprint or change the way they utilize space. Schools should also continue to meet or exceed ventilation requirements and may wish to consult with design professionals to increase ventilation and filtration.”
New York City public school officials are proposing a blended learning model where most students would attend in-person schooling 2 or 3 days a week, and be enrolled in remote learning the rest of the time. Students can also opt for total remote learning. The state has to approve each district’s plan by August 7th.
Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced some criteria for school reopening—if a region in Phase 4 of the reopening remains at a 5 percent (or lower) infection rate for 14 days, schools can reopen, he explained; however, schools will close if the regional infection rate is 9 percent or higher, using a seven-day average.
This chart is a bit confusing (I almost posts an absurdly conflated calculation) but safe to say schools need to have *a lot* of masks pic.twitter.com/WTqmeh26Ic
— Nick Niedzwiadek (@NickNiedz) July 16, 2020
New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza has not announced what the city plans to do when COVID-19 outbreaks arise in school communities. After technical glitches in an online town hall that nearly 23,000 parents attended Thursday night, Carranza reiterated the department's plan for blended learning. He said one thing is clear: “This year won't look like any other school year,” and the only thing school officials know for absolute sure is that there will be remote learning.
The state guidance also reminded districts of mandates that must still be observed, including school safety and fire drills, while maintaining the recommended social distancing:
“Schools must continue to conduct mandatory fire and lockdown drills according to the existing statutory schedule. School leaders will need to plan for these drills to be conducted in a manner that maintains social distancing at exits and gathering points outside the building, while still preparing students to respond in emergencies.”
Previously, lockdown drills have included gathering students to hide together in a closet.
Another crucial point is transportation: “Districts will continue to provide transportation to homeless students, students in foster care, those who attend religious, independent or charter schools – and those with disabilities – just as they always have,” the state guidance said.
New York City officials are working on transportation details with the MTA and the Taxi & Limousine Commission.