New York City schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Saturday.
The mayor characterized the decision as “painful” but said keeping the schools closed is the way to keep the coronavirus from spreading.
“It will help us to save lives,” de Blasio said during a news briefing at City Hall. “It’s the right decision,” he said.
The mayor said the social distancing strategies in place are working to reduce the spread of the virus. Students have been learning remotely since school buildings were closed last month.
He said the decision was made in part after a conversation Friday night with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and one of the leading federal officials on the pandemic. “He was so clear about how important keeping the schools closed would be in our overall strategy,” the mayor said.
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, Utah and Texas have high, current infection rates to warrant this new quarantine advisory, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
Residents of those states are not being barred from coming to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, so Wednesday's action is largely advisory.
"This is the smart thing to do. We have taken our people ... through hell and back," New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy told reporters, via a remote feed in a briefing hosted by Cuomo in Albany.
"And the last thing we need to do is to subject our folks to another round, and this virus is risky enough on its own in terms of the potential to flare back up."
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said region-wide planning is essential to keep COVID-19 from spreading.
"The Northeast region has taken this seriously and that’s allowed us, as a region, to power through and get out positivity rates very low," Lamont said. "But we're not an island. As we look at the rest of the country, we've seen not just spikes, but community spread."
Those nine states from the South and West are now on the quarantine list based on rolling, seven-day averages of infection rates, according to Cuomo.
"The states themselves can change as the infection rate changes. And we'll update daily what states are above that infection rate," Cuomo said.
More than 300,000 New Yorkers have bailed from the Big Apple in the last eight months, new stats show.
City residents filed 295,103 change of address requests from March 1 through Oct. 31, according to data The Post obtained from the US Postal Service under a Freedom of Information Act request.
Since the data details only when 11 or more forwarding requests were made to a particular county outside NYC, the number of moves is actually higher. And a single address change could represent an entire household, which means far more than 300,000 New Yorkers fled the five boroughs.
Whatever the exact number, the exodus — which began when COVID-19 hit the city in early spring — is much greater than in prior years. From just March through July, there were 244,895 change of address requests to destinations outside of the city, more than double the 101,342 during the same period in 2019.
The escape from New York is fueled not only by coronavirus concerns, but economic worries, school chaos and rising crime, experts say.
Michael Hendrix, director of state and local policy at the Manhattan Institute, which has commissioned surveys about the state of the city, was not surprised by the data.
“I think people are afraid,” Hendrix said. “They’re afraid of catching a deadly virus and they’re afraid of crime and other quality of life concerns. One thing we also hear is about trash and cleanliness of the city.”
The institute’s survey of six-figure earners in July and August found that 44% of respondents had considered moving outside the city in the prior four months. They cited cost of living as the biggest reason. More than a third, 38%, said they thought the city was heading in the wrong direction and only 38% rated the quality of life as good or excellent.
More than half, 53%, said they were very concerned about sending their kids back to school.
Major crimes have been on the rise this year with the number of murders in the Big Apple hitting 344 by October, surpassing the count for all of 2019. The number of shootings through Nov. 8 is up 94% over 2019.
“The biggest reason for people leaving the city is uncertainty about when the pandemic will be over and how quickly the New York economy will recover,” said Kathryn Wylde, head of the Partnership for New York City. “More than half a million city residents who were employed in the retail, restaurant, services sectors have lost their jobs and cannot afford city rents. The late decision on re-opening public and private schools forced many families to relocate so they could make enrollment deadlines in districts where they were living during the pandemic.”
The partnership was behind a September plea from top business leaders to Mayor de Blasio urging him to crack down on crime and quality-of-life concerns.
The postal data shows that many fleeing New Yorkers simply crossed the border to Long Island, Westchester or New Jersey. The Post Office received 21,362 change requests to Suffolk County, 18,731 to Nassau County and 15,850 to Westchester County. A total of 9,356 wanted their mail sent to Hudson County, NJ.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo defended Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to close New York City schools as the city reaches 3 percent Covid-19 positivity rate. In a heated exchange with a reporter, Cuomo pointed to the city’s previous decisions with shutting down schools and state laws that have been put in place.
New York City’s schools will move to remote learning only as the city tries to tamp down a growing number of coronavirus cases, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday.
The shuttering of the nation’s largest school system had been anticipated for days after de Blasio told parents on Friday to have a plan in place in case the city decided to close schools for in-person learning, NBC News New York reported. Remote learning will begin Thursday, the mayor said in breaking the news over Twitter.