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Cuomo lays out guidelines for reopening New York schools

NEW YORK — “Science trumps politics” was the message Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered at a briefing in his Manhattan office on Monday about New York state schools reopening. Guidelines include the region must be in Phase 4 and the two-week average coronavirus infection rate is below 5% as of Aug. 1.

“That means the virus is under control and the schools can reopen,” Cuomo said.

Schools will have to close if the infection rate in any region of the state spikes above 9%.

“That’s the green light and that’s the red light,” the governor said. “It’s based on the data and it’s based on the science.”

New York City is the only region of the state that has not yet entered Phase 4, which permits malls, colleges and most businesses to open with restrictions.

The governor warned travelers coming to New York from hard-hit states that they must abide by strict New York state quarantine rules.

A new executive order says arriving travelers must fill out forms at airports saying where they will quarantine. Violators will face a possible $2,000 fine.

He noted that a coronavirus outbreak in upstate Rensselaer County has been traced to a group of residents who recently returned from Georgia, where they apparently contracted COVID-19.

Even as he gave New Yorkers hope that students can return to classrooms soon, Cuomo attacked President Donald Trump for mismanaging the virus.

He accused the president of ignoring science in a politically motivated push to reopen the economy too quickly.

“Go ask Florida, Texas and Arizona how well that worked out,” said Cuomo, referring to Sun Belt states that have seen a massive coronavirus spike in recent days.

Cuomo said Trump is using the same flawed playbook when it comes to reopening the nation’s schools.

“He was wrong on economic reopening and he’s wrong on the schools,” he said. “We’re not going to put our children in a place where they’re in danger. We’re not going to use our children as guinea pigs.”

Cuomo announced that just 10 people died of coronavirus Sunday and the three-day rolling average of deaths dipped to a low of seven, a 99% decline from the dreadful toll at the pandemic’s peak.

The positive testing rate remained low in New York at 1.04% and about 1.3% in. New York City.

“It’s all good news,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo shared the spotlight at the news conference with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, whose family was infected with COVID-19 after one of her children became an asymptomatic victim.

Bottoms bemoaned a lack of leadership from Trump and Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who have balked at new restrictions or mandatory mask regulations even as the pandemic spikes dramatically.

“I’m seeing numbers I hadn’t seen since April,” Bottoms said via video call. “We’re heading in the wrong direction as a city.”

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