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COVID In New York: Cuomo Says It's Possible NYC Schools Could Reopen Even If Positivity Rate Stays Above 3%

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- More restrictions are coming to parts of the Big Apple, as COVID-19 cases show no signs of slowing down.

This, as illegal parties were once again busted over the weekend, CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported Sunday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is sending out a warning to people living on Staten Island and in parts of upper Manhattan and Long Island -- rising coronavirus infection rates could bring tougher restrictions to those areas.

MORECOVID Testing In NYC: New Yorkers Waiting In Long Lines At Urgent Care Centers Across City

Parts of Upper Manhattan and Long Island are nearing yellow zone territory, but the governor said Sunday parts of Staten Island are heading into orange and red zones.

"Staten Island is a serious problem. Staten Island is also a problem in terms of overburdening hospitals," Cuomo said.

Red zone restrictions limit houses of worship to 25 people. In addition:

  • Mass gatherings would be prohibited.
  • Only essential businesses remain open.
  • Only take out dining allowed.
  • Schools would go remote, unless the school opts to test students and staff to make sure they're COVID-free.


Restaurant managers and owners, like Patricia Gaja, said they're not sure their small businesses can survive another shutdown. Indoor and outdoor dining is a lifeline, but red zone restrictions would limit them to take out and delivery only.

"Thats not good news. I'll tell you that. We've already suffered at least a 70% loss since last year," said Gaja, owner of the Phunky Elephant Gastro Pub.

"We'll probably have to shut down. Obviously, we'll try try to get by with whatever we can," added Chrissy Viola of The Richmond.

"There's not many restaurants that are going to survive all of this," said Vinium manager Roberto Hernandez.

New York City public schools are currently closed, because the infection rate seven-day average is 3.09%, but Cuomo said if the seven-day average stays above 3% for 10 days, by law the state takes control over city schools. The governor said if that does happen he will allow schools to reopen, if they agree to COVID-19 testing requirements.

"The school is safer than the local community. Think about it. You have 3% infection rate in the community. The school is under half a percent. Why would you want the child to stay at home, which means they're not going to stay at home. It means they're going to go outside. They're going to run around in a 3% community," Cuomo said.

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew expressed agreement with the governor.

"We don't think the whole system has to go remote if large areas of the city have kept transmission rates low," Mulgrew wrote to parents on Sunday.

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

Last week, the governor ordered bars, restaurants and gyms to close at 10 p.m. to help curb the rising infection rates. Late Saturday night, the city Sheriff's Department busted two illegal parties, including one at a sex club in Astoria, Queens. More than 80 people gathered, unmasked and without social distancing.

Another party was broken up in the Garment District, where 75 people were caught partying without social distancing. A total of seven people were issued summonses.


The governor also commented on reports that a Hasidic wedding was held inside a synagogue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn earlier this month. As many as 7,000 people were said to be in attendance.

Cuomo called the gathering a blatant disregard for the law. New York City officials are now investigating.

CBS2 reached out to city officials, but did not immediately get a response.

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