This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Saturday, August 1st, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.
New York City is in Phase 4 of reopening now, which includes zoos, botanical gardens, and professional sports (without fans). 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:
3:30 p.m.: Seven more businesses that serve alcohol had their liquor license suspended for ignoring coronavirus restrictions, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Saturday.
The unidentified businesses include three in Manhattan, three in Queens, and one in Staten Island.
"We need the NYPD to step up and do enforcement," Cuomo said at a news conference on Saturday morning.
The news is the latest in an ongoing series of crackdowns on eateries that have flouted social distancing guidelines amid the pandemic. This brings the total number of suspended liquor licenses to 52 since March when the pandemic forced restaurants and bars to close down. The state has since allowed outdoor dining as part of Phase 2, but have continued imposing restrictions.
Along with the suspensions, the State Liquor Authority, working jointly with State Police, handed down a total of 36 violations to businesses in the five boroughs on Friday -- 27 in Manhattan, five in Queens, two in the Bronx, and one each in Brooklyn and Staten Island -- with another three handed in Nassau County and two in Suffolk County.
Cuomo “Disappointed” New York City Missed Deadline To Submit Full School Reopening Plans
2 p.m. A record number of COVID-19 tests were administered Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said at his press briefing Saturday.
He said there were 82,737 tests conducted Friday in the state, with 753 positives or 0.91% of the total.
“We hit our record number of tests done on a single day: 82,737. That is the most tests ever conducted in a single day in this state,” Cuomo said in the briefing. He added 581 people were hospitalized, and four people died of COVID-19 on Friday.
“We're in the stage where we are protecting our progress from threats,” Cuomo said.
He also said he was “disappointed” that New York City was among the state's school districts who have not met the July 31st deadline to submit their school reopening plans.
“I'm disappointed that New York City didn't have their plan on time because that's one of the main districts where there is a lot of discussion and dialogue. And until there's a plan, people are not going to feel that there's an informed dialogue and to have that whole process, have that discussion, get it done in two weeks is going to be hard. And if parents are not comfortable and confident, I'm telling you, they're not going to send their child,” he said.
The governor's tacit criticism of Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city's Department of Education echo the political sparring that erupted over the decision to keep schools closed this spring. The state has overall guidelines, but will leave the reopening details up to the districts themselves. Cuomo has said he'll make decisions on reopening each district by August 7th.
City education officials have said as the largest school district in the country with 1.1 million students, they requested and received a two-week extension from the state to submit school-specific plans. The DOE submitted a health and safety plan Friday that includes contact tracing plans for the system’s 1,800 public and charter schools.
Cuomo said 650 of 700 school districts in the state have submitted their plans.
Georgia Overnight Summer Camp Was A Superspreader Event Among Children And Teens
12 p.m. As parents process details of New York City's school reopening plan—a hybrid learning program of both in-person and remote learning; how outbreaks will be handled; a 3% COVID-19 positivity threshold—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new report about an outbreak at an overnight YMCA summer camp in northern Georgia, offering new data on transmission among children and young people.
The CDC found an "attack rate" of 44% among in-state campers and staffers. "This should show you how actively kids can transmit it,” Brian Castrucci, head of de Beaumont Foundation, a public health non-profit and a former epidemiologist, said to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "If you have a low prevalence in your community, you can start to do things. If you have rampant and rapid community spread, then there is no opening school, there is no opening colleges. It is not going to work."
The state had allowed overnight camps to resume operations on May 31st. The YMCA camp held an orientation between June 17th and 30th, with 138 trainees and 120 staffers, followed by their first camp session, starting on June 21st, with 363 campers and three senior staff members. While the camp did require everyone to show proof of a negative COVID test 12 days or less before the start of camp and followed some of the CDC's recommendations for summer camps, the report notes, "Measures not implemented were cloth masks for campers and opening windows and doors for increased ventilation in buildings. Cloth masks were required for staff members. Camp attendees were cohorted by cabin and engaged in a variety of indoor and outdoor activities, including daily vigorous singing and cheering."
By June 23rd, a teen staffer left the camp "after developing chills the previous evening," the CDC reported, and received a positive COVID test result the next day, prompting the camp to start sending campers home. Of the 344 campers and staffers tested, 260 received positive results; there were a total of 597 in-state attendees and staffers.
The CDC explained, "The findings in this report are subject to at least three limitations. First, attack rates presented are likely an underestimate because cases might have been missed among persons not tested or whose test results were not reported. Second, given the increasing incidence of COVID-19 in Georgia in June and July, some cases might have resulted from transmission occurring before or after camp attendance. Finally, it was not possible to assess individual adherence to COVID-19 prevention measures at camp A, including physical distancing between, and within, cabin cohorts and use of cloth masks, which were not required for campers."
Still, after reading the report, Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist at the University of California at Irvine, told the Washington Post, "To me, this is a significant weight added to the side of the scale that says close the schools." Though children spend more time with each other at overnight camp, he also said, "it’s solid evidence to suggest we should be extremely cautious about opening schools."
The camp has been identified as the YMCA High Harbour's Lake Burton location. The YMCA of Metro Atlanta said in a statement to the AJC that they tried to adhere to protocols outlined by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and the CDC, adding that families "reached out to our staff to express their desire for us to open our residential camps in an effort to create normalcy in their children’s lives due to the detrimental impact of COVID-19. This weighed heavily in our decision to open, a decision in retrospect we regret."
However, parents told the newspaper "they did not think the YMCA showed enough urgency. The camp was not immediately closed. Parents were given the option of picking up their children over a period of a few days before the camp closed for the season."
Late on Friday, Kemp, a Republican, extended the ban on cities and counties issuing mandates requiring mask wearing. The state has around an 11% positivity rate.