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State monitoring of Long Island’s “disturbing jumps” as districts warn schools could close

This story was reported by Matthew Chase,, Bart Jones and Craig Schneider. It was written by Jones.

Some Long Island school districts warn residents that schools could be closed because part of the region is in danger of being defined as a “microcluster” by the state due to rising levels of COVID-19 infections.

The Levittown, East Meadow and Connetquot districts, along with Town of Riverhead, have sent notices telling residents to be prepared for a possible halt.

“The positivity rate in recent days is over 3%, and the seven-day average for positivity in the last week is over 2.5%,”

; wrote Tony MacDonald, superintendent of Levittown schools, in a letter to residents on Friday. “As a result, the Ministry of Health and the governor of New York [Andrew M.] Cuomo will most likely identify parts of our region in yellow zones, orange zones or red zones in the coming days. ”

The zones represent different levels of restrictions for businesses, schools and gatherings, depending on the spread of the virus.

And in New York, “community spread” resumed, ending a lull in which the growth of infections was driven by clusters, according to the mayor’s chief spokesman.

Government officials said they were monitoring “alarming jumps” in the Long Island COVID-19 cases and would identify the areas.

“As temperatures cool, cases rise – just as experts predict – and we see increases across the country,” said Cutern spokesman Jack Stern. “We are working with Suffolk and Nassau County to monitor and resolve alarming surges in some Long Island communities and increase testing and enforcement.”

He added that New York City Department of Health officials “will identify cluster zones if the indicators are reached. We need all New Yorkers to shake off COVID fatigue and wear masks, socially distance themselves, explore and wash your hands. ”

The seven-day moving average for Long Island is 3.19%, according to government data released on Friday.

Long Island school and government officials have spoken out against school closures, saying they are not major distributors of COVID-19 and are in fact among the safest places for children.

“We have been very successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19 in our schools,” MacDonald wrote. “Our schools are a safe place for our students and staff.”

On Thursday, all public schools in New York were closed indefinitely by Mayor Bill de Blasio after the city reached a 3% threshold of infection levels set by the city.

School closures only as a “last resort”

Laura Coran, executive director of Nassau County, said she “strongly disagrees” with de Blasio’s move and will fight to keep schools open in Nassau as long as it is safe.

“Thanks to the hard work of school administrators, school buildings have not been a major vector of transmission in Nassau. Our follow-up contacts have found that the virus is spread mainly at social gatherings where no precautions are taken,” the Koran said.

She added: “School closures must be an absolute last resort. Isolating children from teachers and classmates is detrimental to young people’s mental health and educational and emotional growth. School closures lead to further economic ruin and disproportionate harm to families. in lower income communities. ”

Suffolk County Executive Director Steve Beloun reiterated support for schools to remain open. “The county is working with our school districts to ensure that all measures to stop the transmission of COVID-19 are in place in our schools,” he said. “As a result, so far we have not seen a significant spread of COVID-19 in our schools and we see no reason to stop schools in Suffolk County at the moment. The county will do its best to keep our schools open. ”

Cuomo said on Friday that if a region becomes a yellow zone, schools could remain open while testing 20% ​​of their population within two weeks of designation.

In the orange and red zones, schools must close for four days, but may reopen if all staff and students are tested, returning only those with a negative result. Then 25% of the school population must be tested weekly.

“It’s a mandate, it’s a state law,” Cuomo said.

Linda A. Adams, head of Connetquot schools, wrote to residents on Thursday that after an email she sent, “The Suffolk County Department of Health has published an update of the mandatory school testing guidelines that will be available if our region entered the “yellow” protection zone “after a steady increase in COVID-19 cases.”

She said various regulations had been issued and asked health officials in Suffolk to clarify whether 20% of the total student population or 20% of students in each school should be regularly tested for school resumption.

Stern said the microcluster designations are based on the average daily rate of positivity of the geographical area above the 10-day threshold above the threshold – “ie a sustained increase when contact tracking data points to community spread rather than isolated outbreaks.” ”

He said the state also takes into account the percentage of cases per 100,000 inhabitants, hospitalizations, “any links to collection facilities and other epidemiological factors. Zones are created based on case spread data and in consultation with the local health department.”

Cuomo: New York broke the test record

The New York State infection rate was 2.6 percent in Thursday’s test results, including microclusters that were oversampled, Cuomo said. Without microclusters it was 2.15%.

The level was 2.9% on Long Island and 2.4% in New York.

Cuomo said the state had broken another test record, with 205,466 completed on Thursday. The number of new confirmed cases is 389 in Nassau, 413 in Suffolk and 2,021 in New York. Thirty-two people died Thursday from coronavirus-related causes in the state, and 2,348 were hospitalized.

Babylon Junior-Senior High School stayed on full distance learning on Friday due to two more positive cases of COVID-19 at the school, said principal Linda Rozzi.

Rosie said she expects the school, which stopped studying on Thursday, to return to instruction on Monday.

The additional cases led to a total of 8 active cases at the school, while quarantining more than 26 staff members and “even more students” who were tracked, she said.

The daily number of coronavirus infections reported in New York on Friday is “alarming as hell,” de Blasio said on Friday.

There were 1255 new infections over a period of 24 hours. 200 or 300 did not pass until September, he said.

In a tweet late Friday afternoon, de Blasio’s chief spokesman, Bill Neidhard, said all five municipalities had at least five zip codes with an infection rate of more than 3% and 40 zip codes of more than 4%.

“It’s already clear that we’ve entered the New York community,” he said.

He added that new restrictions – such as bans on indoor eating, cessation of gyms – are likely to be imposed soon after Thanksgiving, probably the first week of December.

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