Read our guide to understanding New York on PAUSE, NY's stay-at-home order; 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.
Are you a healthcare worker or another kind of essential worker? Email us what you're seeing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
12:30 p.m.: Just 30 minutes after Mayor Bill de Blasio's press conference announcing schools would remain closed for the academic year, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that the NYC mayor did not have the authority to close schools. The governor characterized de Blasio's decision as an "opinion."
"When we made a decision to close schools," Cuomo said, referring to the statewide move earlier this year, "We made it for the entire metro region... You can't make the decision just within New York City without coordinating with the region. Any decision to reopen will also be coordinated."
Cuomo pointed out that the decision would need to be coordinated with counties in the vicinity, like Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk, as well as neighboring states. "I'd like to coordinate with Connecticut and New Jersey, too," he said. Further, there would need to be coordination with the reopening of businesses, with Cuomo outlining, "I don't understand how you would open businesses in May, but keep schools closed in June... Schools do day care effectively... How can you say to people, I think you're going back to work in May, but schools are going to be continued to be closed."
The governor seemed irked at de Blasio's statements on Thursday, in which the mayor outlined when restrictions might be lifted. De Blasio said that the three indicators of positive coronavirus cases, hospitalization admissions, and intensive car unit hospitalizations had to continue to move downward for 10-14 days. On Thursday, the mayor had raised the possibility this might happen in May or June.
On Saturday, Cuomo said, "I respect his opinion on opening businesses in May, but there's been no decision yet, we're not opening business without coordinating" with other areas.
The mayor's spokesperson tweeted a rebuke of Cuomo's stance:
However, Cuomo's team asserted that the executive order that extended New York State on PAUSE to April 29th gives the governor the authority to make this decision. Here's the pertinent language of the order:
"The directive contained in Executive Order 202.4 as amended by Executive Order 202.11 related to the closure of schools statewide shall hereafter be modified to provide that all schools shall remain closed through April 29, 2020, at which time the continued closure shall be re-evaluated. No school shall be subject to a diminution in school aid due to failure to meet the 180 day in session requirement as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, provided their closure does not extend beyond the term set forth herein. School districts must continue plans for alternative instructional options, distribution and availability of meals, and child care, with an emphasis on serving children of essential workers, and continue to first use any vacation or snow days remaining."
This suggests that a decision about school closures would come towards the end of April, from the governor.
Maya Wiley, former counsel to de Blasio, believes that the governor's order is the reigning authority:
Another member of de Blasio's team pointed out that the mayor had consulted with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (who is also respected by Cuomo), believes schools should be closed for the rest of the school year:
It's unclear what the coordination between the city and state has been prior to today's press conferences, but a NY Times reporter says the city informed the state prior to de Blasio's press conference:
During the earlier part of his press conference, the governor spoke of how hospitalizations had plateaued and intubations have gone down. He noted that deaths had stabilized, though "at a horrific rate," with a total of 8,627 deaths statewide. Cuomo emphasized that the measures New York undertook were necessary, noting that even the White House was concerned about coronavirus earlier this year, "There are no political conspiracies here." and said there were still many questions to be answered before reopening.
Among the things necessary, he said, would be to have more widespread and better testing, prepare more, and federal stimulus money that is targeted to the most affected areas, specifically demanded that theSALT tax increase be repealed, calling it "gratuitous, offensive, illegal action in my opinion."
"You think you're going to reopen the economy without the engine of the New York metropolitan area? You're kidding yourself," he scoffed. "Repeal the SALT provision... which targeted New York and some of these places—Michigan, Detroit, California."
De Blasio Cancels NYC Schools For The Rest Of The School Year
9:49 a.m.: In a press conference, Mayor de Blasio announced that he will cancel school for the 2019-2020 term. "We originally said best case scenario was coming back Monday April 20th," he said, but acknowledged that was not possible. "After careful consideration, New York City public schools will remain closed through remainder of school year."
The NYC public school system serves 1.1 million students; it is the largest in the United States.
The mayor, who began his briefing by talking about how difficult the past weeks were for New Yorkers, but especially children, said: "Social distancing, the shelter in place, the things that have been really difficult for everyone, are also how we protect our children and families." But in order to keep bending the curve, he explained, it's required that we "keep this strategy of social distancing and shelter in place."
He also applauded the "heroic efforts" by educators to instantly switch to a remote learning curriculum.
"It was literally a painful decision" to close schools on March 15th, he said. But now, the move to close school for the rest of the year, "It's the right decision... The worst mistake we could make is to take our foot off the gas, and wake up in situation where disease could have a resurgence and threaten us even more."
De Blasio reminded again, "April will be worse than March, May will be better, maybe, but that's not enough time to open in June." He offered a five-point plan to enhance the remote learning plan:
The areas are: 1) Expanding the distribution of devices for remote learning to students (there are 300,000 students who do not have devices; the Department of Education has only distributed 55,000); 2) Expand the parent help line and tech support hours and staffing; 3) Offer more online activities and programs; 4) Graduating NYC's 75,000 high schools seniors; 5) Be ready to reopen in September and catch up.
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza noted that everyone in the world is trying to obtain devices, so that's why there has been some lag in every student receiving them. He also thanked the NYC schools staff. "While we may not be together in school buildings, schools remain in session because of our teachers and administrators," Carranza said.
The United Federation of Teachers, which represents teachers, supports the decision to keep schools closed this academic year; Carranza said that other labor leaders also believed that schools should remain on remote learning, and they all agreed to "let the data drive the decision."
Of parents, custodians, food service workers, and anyone who worked with or in schools, Carranza said, "They just want to know" what's going on.
And the schools chancellor brought up the "silver lining" to this "dark cloud"—the fact that this crisis has forced New York City schools to bridge the digital divide, because children who haven't had access to a device before will now get one.
We'll have more about the mayor's decision in further posts and updates. Do you work at a NYC school? Are you a parent, or student? Tell us about your experiences. Email email@example.com or leave a voicemail at 646-470-7736 to share your stories.
De Blasio Claps For The Helpers At Bellevue
At 7 p.m. on Friday night, Mayor Bill de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro, and members of the FDNY and NYPD stood outside Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan to clap and cheer for hospital workers.
One nurse, Hilda Tucubal, told the NY Post, "It definitely brings the morale up — for all of us... We bring that back home. We go to bed. We’re a little more uplifted. Sometimes it’s trying what we see there, and sometimes we see good things." She added, "Being sent off at night with all the firefighters is definitely uplifting. You feel love from the city.”
As of Friday night, there are 94,409 cases of COVID-19 in New York City, according to the city's data. There have been 5,429 deaths so far, by the city's count; the city also intends to include probable COVID-19 deaths that occurred at home to the death toll.
Queens continues to have the most cases, with 29,754; Brooklyn has 24,846; the Bronx, 20,543; Manhattan 12,201; and Staten Island, 7,027. Deaths by borough show Queens with 1759; Brooklyn, 1510; the Bronx, 1241; Manhattan, 629; and Staten Island, 289 (plus one unknown location of residence).
During a Friday night appearance on Real Time With Bill Maher, the mayor credited the heroic work of the essential workers—and also credited New Yorkers for their "amazing compliance" with social distancing and shelter in place. "To a remarkable degree, they're doing it," de Blasio said, "and that's why our health care leadership that some of these numbers"—hospitalizations, ICU admittance—"are slowing down now."
The mayor has a 9:30 a.m. press briefing on Saturday morning. He may make an announcement about the fate of the school year.