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.
Four days after announcing that classes would be suspended for two weeks following an outbreak of COVID-19, SUNY Oneonta is now sending students back home for the rest of the semester.
In a letter, school president Barbara Jean Morris explained, "The college had begun a two-week 'pause' period on Aug. 30 in order to focus on testing while limiting the spread of COVID-19. However, with the increase in confirmed cases within our campus community — 389 since the start of the semester on August 24th — the college now needs to take this new action to contain the virus and prevent further community spread."
The 389 cases mark a steady increase from Sunday, when 105 cases had been reported. The school has about 6,000 undergraduate students. SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said the positivity rate for Oneonta students was 13%.
"Today's a tough day for SUNY and for SUNY Oneonta," he added.
Malatras said the outbreak was the result of parties in which pandemic protocols—like social distancing, having small gatherings, wearing masks—were not followed, according to The Daily Star. "I want to be the fun chancellor, but we're not in normal times," he said at a press conference. "I'm going to act swiftly and aggressively."
Students who have tested negative for the coronavirus are being asking to move out by Monday, with classes cancelled on Friday to facilitate the moves. Some students may apply for permission to remain on campus.
Further, Morris wrote, "Alongside our local Department of Health, we strongly advise students who have been moved to quarantine or isolation to remain on campus until they are cleared by the Department of Health to resume normal activities. Students who need to leave before that time should contact Environmental Health and Safety Officer Peter Booth for counseling on their options and instructions for minimizing the risk of spreading the virus to their families and others with whom they may come in contact."
The school will offer full refunds for housing and prorated refunds for dining fees.
NYC Malls Can Reopen At 50% Capacity On September 9th
On Thursday—or Day 187 since New York went on PAUSE to slow the spread of COVID-19—Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that shopping malls in New York City can finally reopen on September 9th, with appropriate pandemic protocols in place.
Malls will be limited to 50% of capacity, and must require that people wear masks/face covering and abide by social distancing, as well as hire additional staff to monitor crowds and ensure that MERV 13 HVAC filters are in place. "No indoor dining, loitering or unnecessary congregation will be permitted in malls," a press release from his office said.
Shopping malls in all other regions of New York State have been opened for weeks.
The governor added that indoor dining at NYC malls will not be allowed, because indoor dining overall is not allowed in the city.
Casinos are now allowed to reopen, at 25% capacity and with mask-wearing, social distancing, and additional staff. Table games and beverage service are not open, but table games could return if casinos construct the physical barriers.
The state positivity rate for coronavirus is still under one percent—with 889 positive tests, out of around 88,000 total tests, the current rate is 0.99%. More alarming to Cuomo is the outbreaks that continue in Western New York. Buffalo's positivity rate is 5.9%, while Chautauqua County is 4.5%; Niagara County is 2.8% and Eric County, not including Buffalo, is 2.3%. During a Thursday conference call with reporters, Cuomo said he hoped that people would take social distancing and mask wearing seriously, noting how in other parts of the country where people got lax, the municipalities or states had to roll back reopening measures.
Further, Cuomo had thoughts about reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants states to prepare for a fall vaccine.
"The President says he's going to have a vaccine," the governor said during his press call. "CDC is talking about a vaccine in early November. How convenient. It's going to be an Election Day miracle drug. Some people are concerned that the vaccine may wind up being hydroxychloroquine, so before we recommend that New Yorkers take a vaccine, the State Department of Health will be reviewing all the protocol and research by the FDA and whatever federal authorities say it's safe and effective. So, we will, before we recommend New Yorkers take any vaccine, we will have the state Department of Health review it."