Gov. Cuomo: Updated state guidance on schools coming ‘within the next week’

QUEENS, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a conference call with media Monday afternoon to update New Yorkers on the state’s ongoing coronavirus response efforts.

The governor said the New York State Department of Health would be issuing new guidance on COVID-19 restrictions and how they pertain to schools “within the next week.”

Some educators have called on the state to adopt the new CDC guidelines which say three feet of distancing in the classroom is safe and adequate, but the state has not yet adopted those guidelines — which were issued by the CDC on March 19.

Educators have said the current six-feet distancing requirement has been the hardest obstacle to navigate as some districts work to reopening schools for more in-person instruction.

Regarding new coronavirus numbers, the governor announced the following data Monday:

  • 150,225 COVID-19 tests reported statewide Sunday
  • 6,583 new cases
  • 4.38% positivity rate statewide Sunday
  • 57 new COVID-19 deaths
  • 4,434 hospitalized
  • 906 in ICU
  • 577 intubated

The governor said COVID-19 rates have held relatively flat in recent weeks, with varying degrees of smaller changes in separate regions throughout the state, but he said COVID fatigue poses a risk to public health in the race between virus variant strains and vaccination.

“‘COVID fatigue, I’m tired, the weather is warm, there’s a vaccine, the death numbers are down, hospitalizations are down — I think we’re over it,’” Gov. Cuomo said. “The community that accepts that mentality first will have a higher transmission rate. It’s not over, and there are still variants, and you can still get sick. Yes people are vaccinated, but not enough. Once people believe this is over, and they think COVID isn’t dangerous, the behavior changes. People are now relaxing, and as people relax with COVID, it’s a problem. Don’t get cocky with COVID — COVID wins when you get cocky.”

Although a few days past its due date, the governor said the legislature continues to make progress on the state budget negotiations.

“The budget is probably the most complicated, the most ambitious, and the hardest budget we have done,” Gov. Cuomo said. “This is a post-crisis budget. In many ways, I think, it’s an international competition: Who can rebuild first, who can learn the lessons first? I think there’s an opportunity for New York in that.”

The governor said most of the budget had been agreed upon, and that it should be passed and signed in the near future.

“We have a conceptual agreement on all issues, I think it’s fair to say,” Gov. Cuomo said.

Beginning Tuesday, all New Yorkers 16 and older will be eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

Earlier Monday, Gov. Cuomo toured Rochdale Village, in Queens, New York Monday to announce a new pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinic launching Tuesday.

“We’re setting up a pop-up site right here in Rochdale Village and we want to get the word out,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It’s a pleasure to be home; for me, Queens is home. When people say to me ‘oh you have a New York accent’ I said I don’t have a New York accent, that is a Queens accent and I’m proud of it. Queens is a special place to me, Queens really represents the heart of what New York is all about; it’s diversity, it’s unity, it’s strength, it’s people who are finding commonalities rather than differences. Queens people also have an attitude — I want you to know I have a Queens attitude. I always have and always will.”

Gov. Cuomo’s full conference call:

Gov. Cuomo visits vaccine pop-up clinic in Queens

The governor expressed optimism in New York’s response efforts to the pandemic.

“We went through a long winter,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Probably the longest winter of my life, we went through the COVID winter. It was the coldest, the darkest, most frightening winter we have ever gone through. People were isolated, people were afraid, you couldn’t go outdoors, you couldn’t touch, you couldn’t hug, you couldn’t see family members. Your mother, your grandmother, you’re afraid literally to see one another. How cruel a winter. How cruel — and then death on top of it. Death where people died in hospitals and you never even had a chance to say goodbye.

“We are now in the season of renewal and we have to make it a season of renewal — it doesn’t just happen,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Renewal requires effort. You have to see a different reality and you have to make it happen and that’s where we are now.”

The governor said COVID is still a concern, despite the positive trends in vaccinations and viral hospitalizations decreasing.

“The first step toward renewal is what? It’s defeating COVID,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Do not get cocky with COVID. Do not get cocky with COVID. ‘Well it seems like its getting better,’ and it is, but do not get cocky with COVID. There are variants. This virus changes on you, it mutates on you, hundreds of times a week around the world. All you need is one mutation that is vaccine resistant and then we have a problem. We have to crush COVID and we have it on the run, but now is the time we have to crush it once and for all. And the first step in doing that is you have to take the vaccine.”

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