New York City is in Phase 4 of reopening now, which includes zoos, botanical gardens, museums, and gyms. 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:
- SUNY Oswego Pauses In-Person Learning To "Stabilize" COVID Outbreak
- Poll Finds Nearly Half Of Americans Say They "Probably" Or "Definitely" Won't Get Covid Vaccine
- "Big Red Flag": Why Lack Of Teachers Was The Tipping Point In De Blasio's School Switch
- "Get That Flu Shot": NYC Urges Residents To Get Flu Vaccine During Pandemic
- New Yorkers Desperate To See Loved Ones In Nursing Homes Say Visitation Rules Do More Harm Than Good
4:15 p.m. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has officially walked back a recommendation the agency made last month that those exposed to the virus but who did not show symptoms do not need to get a COVID-19 test.
On Friday, the CDC website was revised to state that those who should consider getting tested include people who have had close contact "such as within 6 feet of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection for at least 15 minutes and do not have symptoms." Prior to that the agency only recommended testing for those with symptoms.
The initial change prompted a huge uproar in the scientific and public health community. Soon after, several outlets, including Governor Andrew Cuomo's office, reported that top Trump administration officials had pushed for the new guidance. President Donald Trump has frequently suggested that the country should do less testing to decrease the number of reported cases.
Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, later tried to backtrack the CDC's new guidelines by saying that testing "may be considered for all close contacts of confirmed or probable COVID-19 patients." But the website remained unchanged.
On Thursday, the New York Times reported that CDC scientists had vigorously objected to the change. Since the outset of the coronavirus crisis, the Trump administration has been suspected of interfering with the CDC, beginning with the sudden end to weekly press briefings. On Friday, the Times published emails that detailed some of the behind-the-scenes efforts of Trump administration officials to challenge the agency's staff and end their public communications.
One of those Trump officials, Michael Caputo, who worked as a spokesman for the Health and Human Services Department, left his position on Wednesday.
Friday's turnaround was applauded by public health experts.
Dr. Thomas Friedan, a former CDC head who was also New York City's health commissioner, called the change "an encouraging step in the right direction" on Twitter.
"Now the Administration needs to show that political interference with CDC science will never happen again," he added.
Cuomo, however, was more critical. From the start, he speculated that the change was made because the federal government wanted people taking fewer tests so as to hide the true number of cases.
"It is now known that this was yet another example of public health being subverted by the Trump White House, where from Day 1 politics & denial has come before science & facts," the governor tweeted.
In explaining the update on Friday, the CDC wrote, "Due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, this guidance further reinforces the need to test asymptomatic persons, including close contacts of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection."
SUNY Oswego Pauses In-Person Learning To "Stabilize" COVID Outbreak
3 p.m. A surge in coronavirus cases at the State University of New York at Oswego has prompted school officials to pause in-person classes for two weeks.
The school has 82 current cases, according to its COVID dashboard. The NY State Department of Health guidance to move schools to remote learning is 100 cases or 5% positivity rate on campus during a 14-day period. However, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said the move was "out of an abundance of caution and so that we can ensure that we have completely contained this virus on campus."
He explained in a statement, "After an uptick late last week, the college quickly scaled back on-campus activities, enhanced safety enforcement and penalties, and expanded surveillance testing. The result has been noticeably increased compliance and a quick drop-off in cases—cause for cautious optimism for the days ahead."
In addition to moving classes to 100% remote learning, the school will be converting all campus dining and other food service options to takeout and delivery, and suspending all in-person athletics, extracurriculars, and non-essential services.
All residential facilities will remain open, and students should not leave campus during this two-week pause — SUNY said, "By leaving campus, students risk spreading the virus further and possibly endangering their friends, families, and others in their hometown communities."
In addition testing amongst students and staff, the school will be monitoring wastewater at campus buildings and testing it twice a week. Detection of the virus in wastewater is considered an "early" indicator of the prevalence of coronavirus in the population.
In order to return to school, SUNY Oswego students were required to test negative for COVID-19. At SUNY Oneonta, where COVID cases grew to 10% of the student population and forced the school to shut down for the rest of the semester, students were not required to take COVID test before arriving on campus.
Poll Finds Nearly Half Of Americans Say They "Probably" Or "Definitely" Won't Get Covid Vaccine
A new poll from the Pew Research Center shows that the number of Americans who are willing to get vaccinated for coronavirus once a vaccine is approved has plummeted from earlier in the crisis, from 72% in May to 51% this month.
The remaining 49 percent of respondents said they would “probably” or “definitely” not get it.
The nationwide survey, which was conducted from September 8th to 13th among more than 10,000 adults, found eroding confidence in the vaccine development and approval process, with 78% of people expressing concerns that it will move too fast without being fully vetted for safety and effectiveness.
In the face of pressure from the Trump administration to expedite federals approvals, health experts have expressed concerns that a large portion of individuals would refuse to take an approved vaccine, undermining the entire vaccination development effort and prolonging the pandemic. On Thursday, Moderna and Pfizer, two drug companies that are leading contenders to produce a vaccine, revealed details about the late stage trials process in hopes of winning public trust. Prior to that, nine pharmaceutical companies released an unprecedented pledge that the vetting of any potential vaccine would be guided by science and the interest of safety.
President Donald Trump has said that he wants to see a vaccine produced by the election on November 3rd, a timeline that his own health officials have questioned.
The Pew study found that more than three-quarters of Americans, or 77%, believe it is "very or somewhat likely" that a COVID-19 vaccine will be approved in the United States "before its safety and effectiveness are fully understood."
While the desire to get a vaccine has diminished across all political and demographic groups, there were still significant divisions.
Democrats (or those leaning in that political direction) are more likely than Republicans and Republican leaners to get vaccinated (58% vs. 44%). Along racial lines, 32% of Black adults say they would "definitely or probably get a COVID-19 vaccine," compared with 52% of whites, 56% of Hispanics and 72% of Asians.