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Wednesday, 18 November 2020

'Have a plan B ready, parents': Bill de Blasio tells New Yorkers to prepare for school closures as city's positive COVID test rate hits 2.7% on seven-day average

 Mayor Bill de Blasio told New York City parents on Tuesday to come up with a 'plan B' for child care as the city braces for possible schools closures due to a growing positivity rate that now sits at 2.7 per cent. 

During a press conference, the mayor said the city must be vigilant in efforts to fight against the virus and get the positivity rate down before it hits 3 per cent. 

If the positivity rate reaches 3 per cent, de Blasio will close all school buildings in the city. The 3 per cent mark was set over the summer as the city was trying to avoid a teachers' strike. 

When the mayor was asked if health officials have given him a forecast that the city will hit that 3 per cent threshold by the end of this week, de Blasio said: 'There's been a lot of unpredictability in this whole process over these months. 

'I warned parents on Friday: get ready. Because I think that was the responsible thing to do to say, "Look this could happen. There's a decent chance this will happen."

'Get ready. Have your plan B ready for how you want to make sure your kids are taken care of right if we have to close the schools for a period of time,' de Blasio said.  

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday morning that New Yorkers should have a 'plan B ready' as the city braces for possible schools closures due to a growing positivity rate that now sits at 2.7 per cent

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday morning that New Yorkers should have a 'plan B ready' as the city braces for possible schools closures due to a growing positivity rate that now sits at 2.7 per cent

Bill de Blasio tells New Yorkers to prepare for school closures
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De Blasio said that he wants students to stay in school and any school closures would be temporary 'to reset the equation given the new conditions we're in'. 

'Today New York City schools are open,' the Democratic mayor said.

'Tomorrow they will be open as well. We've got a fight ahead to keep them open. But I'm not giving up and you shouldn't give up either. Every day that we can keep our schools open is a blessing for our children and our families,' he said. 

'Everyone's been participating in the things that have kept schools safe. Everyone has been wearing their masks ... and we need to keep doing that to do our very, very best to keep schools open,' de Blasio said.

'We have some new challenges because of what's going on around us,' he added. 

In his press conference on Tuesday, de Blasio said that he wants students to stay in school and any school closures would be temporary 'to reset the equation given the new conditions we're in'. Students demonstrate during a rally to keep schools open on Saturday

In his press conference on Tuesday, de Blasio said that he wants students to stay in school and any school closures would be temporary 'to reset the equation given the new conditions we're in'. Students demonstrate during a rally to keep schools open on Saturday 

On Tuesday morning, de Blasio tweeted: 'We're holding the line against #COVID19 and schools will be OPEN tomorrow [Wednesday], but we still have work to do to keep our numbers down'

On Tuesday morning, de Blasio tweeted: 'We're holding the line against #COVID19 and schools will be OPEN tomorrow [Wednesday], but we still have work to do to keep our numbers down'

Asked if the city should be flexible about the 3% threshold, de Blasio said: 'We set a standard. We asked everyone to trust it and believe in it. It's important to keep consistency with that.'

On Tuesday morning, de Blasio tweeted: 'We're holding the line against #COVID19 and schools will be OPEN tomorrow [Wednesday], but we still have work to do to keep our numbers down.' 

De Blasio also gave an update on hospitalizations and cases, noting that 102 patients have been admitted to hospitals in the city. 


The mayor said a total 1,117 new COVID cases have been reported in the city. 

About 280,000 of the city's 1 million-plus public school students are attending school in person part of the time, while the rest are learning remotely five days a week.

Since the start of in-person learning, about 1,050 students and 1,200 teachers and staff have tested positive for the virus. To date, nearly 1,400 classrooms have been closed temporarily, including 573 closed as of Monday.

About 280,000 of the city’s 1 million-plus public school students are attending school (file image) in person part of the time, while the rest are learning remotely five days a week

About 280,000 of the city's 1 million-plus public school students are attending school (file image) in person part of the time, while the rest are learning remotely five days a week

De Blasio's remarks come on the same day as Dr Anthony Fauci encouraged state officials to try and keep their schools open. 

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN that schools should stay open as much as possible even if other establishments are closing. 

'We're seeing certain local people, be they mayors or leaders in the community, doing selected closing of places that are highly vulnerable, clearly among them are bars and anything that has congregate setting, particularly indoors,' Fauci said. 

Fauci then said: 'The default position to be is try as best as possible to keep the schools open, but you've got to have not one size fits all, you've got to take a look at what is going on in the particular location where you're at.

'But we should be trying to keep the children in school as safely as we possibly can.'  

Beyond New York City, which was the epicenter of the US COVID-19 crisis in the spring, infections have reached unprecedented levels nationwide.

Forty-one states have reported record increases in COVID-19 cases in November, while 20 have seen a record rise in deaths and 26 reported record hospitalizations, according to a Reuters tally of public health data. 

Twenty-five states reported test positivity rates above 10 per cent for the week ending on Sunday, November 15. The World Health Organization considers a positivity rate above 5 per cent to be concerning.

The Midwest remains the hardest-hit US region. It reported 444,677 cases in the week ending on Monday, November 16, 36 per cent more than the combined cases of the Northeast and West regions.

De Blasio's remarks come on the same day as Dr Anthony Fauci encouraged state officials to try and keep their schools open. 'The default position to be is try as best as possible to keep the schools open,' Fauci said

De Blasio's remarks come on the same day as Dr Anthony Fauci encouraged state officials to try and keep their schools open. 'The default position to be is try as best as possible to keep the schools open,' Fauci said 

There are more than 11 million cases of COVID in the US and at least 247,356 deaths

There are more than 11 million cases of COVID in the US and at least 247,356 deaths 

The number of coronavirus patients hospitalized in the US hit a record of 73,140 on Monday. Hospitalizations have increased over 46 per cent in past 14 days, according to a Reuters tally.

New York is among several northeast states that had managed to contain the virus fairly well over the summer after a frightening spring wave, but now has one of the highest week-over-week case increases as of Sunday.

Infections have also jumped in neighboring Connecticut by more than 50 per cent in the last week from the week prior.

'Right now we see the storm clouds coming again,' Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, a Democrat, told MSNBC in an interview on Tuesday.

Governors of several states and city officials have imposed new restrictions on indoor gatherings in recent days in an attempt to stem the spread of the disease over the winter, with the prospect of a widely available, effective vaccine still months away.

Several have urged citizens to exercise caution around the Thanksgiving holiday and not travel or socialize with extended family for the traditional indoor feast.

'I know this is difficult & frustrating, especially with the holidays right around the corner,' Vermont Governor Phil Scott wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, referring to his ban on multihousehold gatherings. 'But it's necessary & we need your help to get this back under control.'

Last week, Detroit Public Schools joined a growing list of districts shifting to remote learning, telling students to stay home until January 11. 

Philadelphia administrators last week scrapped plans to start bringing students back November 30. 

Minneapolis Public Schools have also put an indefinite hold on efforts to bring more children back to school. Boston public schools switched back to all-remote learning on October 22.

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