Could New York City be headed for another COVID-19 shutdown? Officials say if the number of cases in the city doesn’t go down, it’s very possible.
The city is seeing a seven-day average of 593 cases, which is 8% over the threshold. This week Mayor Bill de Blasio said hospitalizations are still low; however, the city’s positivity rate is a major concern. He attributes the number to more testing.
“We want to turn the tide now with all the outreach and the face mask wearing and the social distancing and the testing,” de Blasio said. “We want to start knocking down that seven-day rolling average, but we’re keeping a very close eye on the situation because we’re obviously at a point where that has gone up in recent weeks and we take that very seriously.”
As far as schools are concerned, 21 schools are currently closed for two weeks due to outbreaks. Health officials say most COVID-19 infections in schools are not being transmitted in school buildings.
“When we see a situation where a school needs to be closed, we work out of an abundance of caution and, so far, that’s served us really well because as we know, the schools overall have been extraordinarily safe, and so I think our cautious, you know, health and safety first approach is really working for us,” de Blasio said.
In an effort to cut down on the number of possibly infected people coming into New York State, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is changing course when it comes to the state’s travel advisory just in time for the holiday travel season.
Cuomo recently announced new guidelines allowing out-of-state travelers to New York to “test out” of the mandatory 14-day quarantine. The guidelines deviate from the required 14-day quarantine for travelers who come to New York from states with high infection rates.
Travelers must get tested within three days prior to arriving in New York and quarantine for at least three days upon arrival. Travelers must get tested on the fourth day of their arrival. If travelers receive a negative test, they don’t have to quarantine for the remaining time. Anyone coming to New York State must fill out a Traveler Health form.
“New York is the third lowest positivity rate in the nation and New Yorkers should be very proud of what they’re doing. However, travel has become an issue—the rest of the states pose a threat,” Cuomo said. “We’re going to a new plan given the changing facts, and the experts suggest we shift to a testing policy. So there will be no quarantine list; there will be one rule that applies across the country.”
This week, Cuomo joined several Black leaders who say the federal government isn’t adequately planning for the COVID-19 vaccine when it comes to Black Americans. They say officials need to address existing health disparities.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial, and NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson are calling the federal government out on its shortcomings. They say officials are relying on the flu vaccine model, which often leaves the Black community behind.
“New York clearly recognizes that the existing flu vaccination infrastructure is woefully insufficient to be relied upon solely to provide the COVID vaccine fairly, expeditiously and equitably to all New Yorkers,” James said. “The audacity of this administration, the Trump administration, to stand by and watch as communities of color in this country have suffered disproportionately from this virus and then turn around and rig the system once again against them is hard to fathom.”
Morial said inadequate testing early on during the pandemic is a telltale sign of what could be expected for the vaccine. He pointed out that in March, the White House announced a partnership with chain pharmacies to provide testing and out of 63 that testing sites that opened, only eight were in Black neighborhoods.
“There’s great fear that the plan for a vaccine has been politicized,” Morial said. “That politics, an accelerated approval process, an inadequate, if you will, preparation process, inadequate clinic trials, raise the specter that many Americans, particularly Black and Brown Americans, believe that the result will not be safe.”