Schools in New York state will remain closed at least until April 15 as the result of a decision made by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to extend his initial order that had closed schools for a two-week period ending April 1.
Cuomo noted that the rule requiring that school systems hold classes for at least 180 days a year in order to qualify for state aid has been waived.
Cuomo said that he will be reviewing the trajectory of the pandemic to determine whether to extend the school closings beyond April 15. The continued school closings are part of the effort to enforce social distancing as a technique to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Cuomo was speaking during a news conference held at the Javits Center in Manhattan where the Army Corps of Engineers has assembled the first of four auxiliary hospital facilities.
Cuomo said that he is closing down nonessential construction sites. “Some construction is essential to keep the place running, but nonessential construction is going to be stopped,” he said.
He said his office would be releasing details on what construction sites can remain active.
Based on projections that the peak of the disease is two to three weeks away, Cuomo said that today he will be asking President Trump to authorize the Army Corps of Engineers to build an additional four emergency hospitals. He said that among the possible sites identified for the facilities are the Aqueduct Race Track, Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and a CUNY college on Staten Island.
Cuomo said that increasing hospital capacity to be prepared for the expected apex of the disease is a top priority with the number of hospital beds expected to be needed at 140,000.
Cuomo said that there have been 7,187 cases of COVID-19 identified in Westchester with a total of 44,635 cases in New York state. There have been 519 deaths recorded in New York, up from the 385 deaths reported yesterday.
New York City had 25,398 cases. There were 1,457 cases identified in Rockland, 910 in Orange, and 225 in Dutchess.
Cuomo again pointed to the correlation of the number of cases reported in New York reflecting the extent of the testing for the disease that has been taking place. He said that there have been 138,376 tests for the virus conducted in New York state, with 29,515 in Westchester.
Cuomo said the rate of increase in serious cases requiring hospitalization seems to be slowing. New York State Commissioner of Health Howard Zucker said that they will be monitoring data over the next few days to determine the extent to which that is true.
Members of the National Guard attended the news conference, and Cuomo thanked them for their service to the state and then had a warning.
“This is different beast that we are dealing with. This is an invisible beast, it is an insidious beast. This is not going to be a short deployment,” Cuomo said. “This is not going to be ‘We go out there for a few days, we work hard and we go home.’ This is going to be weeks and weeks and weeks. This is going to be a long day and it’s going to be a hard day and it’s going to be an ugly day and it’s going to be a sad day. This is a rescue mission that you’re on. A mission to save lives.”