This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Tuesday, October 27th, 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, museums, and gyms. Certain parts of Brooklyn and Queens are under a zoned shutdown. 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:
Mayor Bill de Blasio is urging city residents to stay put this holiday season, as the number of coronavirus cases nationwide surges to its highest level since the start of the pandemic.
"I hate to say it, but I have to urge all New Yorkers to not travel out of state for the holiday," de Blasio said during his daily briefing on Tuesday. "Realize that by doing that unfortunately you could be putting yourself and your family in danger and also the risk of bringing the disease back here."
The mayor's warning comes amid fears of a second wave in New York, as concentrated outbreaks continue to take root in the metro area. The city's daily case average topped the 550 threshold on Monday, and while hospitalizations and deaths remain low, health care officials have warned that could change quickly.
Many medical experts have cautioned against unnecessary holiday travel, particularly for those vulnerable to the virus or who may be seeing a family member at higher risk.
New Yorkers set on fleeing town should take certain precautions, such as getting a test before they go, and even pushing for an outdoor holiday dinner around the fire if possible, according to Dr. Stephen Morse, an epidemiology professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
During his briefing on Tuesday, de Blasio also urged the Trump administration — which has openly given up on controlling the virus —to mandate travelers receive negative COVID tests before boarding a plane. And he vowed to beef up enforcement of quarantine restrictions for those who plan to travel to one of 40 states currently on New York's travel advisory list.
For New Yorkers expecting out of town visitors around Thanksgiving or Christmas, the mayor is also pushing for a change of plans. "We're going to have to be the center of things together, just ourselves," he said.
Long-running tourist attractions, like the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and Rockettes' Christmas Spectacular, have already been cancelled. We're going to choose to believe the same is true of SantaCon.
Spending Christmas watching Home Alone in your sweatpants while eating Chinese takeout straight from the carton? Still perfectly safe.
SUNY Students Must Test Negative For COVID-19 Before Leaving For Holidays
In a new rule designed to prevent the spread of coronavirus in communities, all students enrolled in the state's public university system will be required to show a negative test before being permitted to leave their dorms and head home for Thanksgiving break.
State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras issued a press release Tuesday morning after first announcing the news to the Associated Press.
The policy comes as the state is battling concentrated outbreaks in New York City and other suburban counties. Across the country, colleges and universities have been sources for major coronavirus outbreaks. According to an ongoing tally by the New York Times, there have been over 214,000 known cases across more than 1,600 colleges.
"By requiring all students to test negative before leaving, we are implementing a smart, sensible policy that protects students' families and hometown communities and drastically reduces the chances of COVID-19 community spread," Malatras said, in a statement.
The testing requirement will mean that all of SUNY's 64 colleges and universities must develop plans by November 5th to test about 140,000 students within 10 days before Thanksgiving break. Most SUNY schools had been planning to transition to full remote learning anyway after Thanksgiving, with dorms set to be closed for most students. The new testing policy will apply to all students who are taking at least one class on campus, using on-campus services including the gymnasium, library or dining hall, or working on campus.
Most SUNY schools did not test students returning to campus in August, an oversight that led to outbreaks.
Last month, SUNY Oneonta earned the dubious distinction of recording the largest number of infections of any college in the state, following the discovery of more than 500 infections. SUNY officials responded by canceling in-person classes for the fall semester and sending students home.
The university, which has roughly 6,000 students, now has an estimated 720 cases, all but one of them among students, according to the school's website.
Altogether, SUNY reported that its schools have to date tested more than 270,000 students, with a positivity rate of 0.52 percent.
The current rolling 7-day positivity rate throughout the SUNY system is 0.32 percent.