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Mayor De Blasio Says If City COVID-19 Positivity Rate Goes Above 3% Schools Will Close The Next Day

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Only a day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo imposed new coronavirus pandemic restrictions, there was a threat from Mayor Bill de Blasio to close New York City schools if the infection rate continues to rise.

De Blasio said Thursday he'll move swiftly if the positivity rate goes above 3%, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported.

"If any day we see in the morning the indicators come out and have reached that level then we'll move immediately the next day schools will be shut down," the mayor said.

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The mayor said there's still time to turn it around, but the trend is not good. The positivity rate Wednesday was 2.6%.


The mayor insisted he will stick to the 3% standard for closing schools, a standard worked out with the teachers' union. The World Health Organization standard is 5%, while the New York State standard is 9%.

The United Federation of Teachers is sticking to that standard because city schools have a higher density than other regions.

"Three percent is a hard and fast number. This is all part of a plan. Remember, we had independent medical experts who helped us put this plan together," UFT President Michael Mulgrew said.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The question is whether the city Department of Education is ready to go all-remote if schools are closed. A spokesman for the principals union said his members have been given no plans for going remote.

"There has to be a centralized place where parents to really get access to the information they need and quickly. You can't call into a place and someone will get back to you in a week, or you call a school and they tell you to call 311," Mulgrew said.

Thursday night, the DOE sent a letter to principals with guidance on how to prepare ahead of another potential shutdown.

Meanwhile, New Yorkers are grappling with Gov. Cuomo's new restrictions, including limiting the number of people that can attend a gathering in a private home. A spokesperson for the governor said the number 10 was picked to be consistent with the rules in neighboring states. Connecticut has a 10-person limit.

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Staten Island Borough President James Oddo urged his constituents to stay home and follow the guidelines after 80% of the borough was declared a yellow zone. And even though it breaks his heart, Thanksgiving with his mom is off the table.

"I will not be spending Thanksgiving, my brothers will not be coming in sitting around the same table. Tou have to live your values," Oddo said. "That means avoiding gatherings inside when you can."

Also, the chairman of the City Council Health Committee, Mark Levine, is calling for an end to indoor dining until the numbers go down. Starting Friday, bars and restaurants have to close at 10 p.m.


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