NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered schools to close beginning on Tuesday in several coronavirus “hot spots” in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.
The announcement brings forward a plan by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to close schools in 11 neighborhoods beginning on Wednesday after coronavirus test positivity rates rose above 3% in those areas for seven days in a row.
“I am not going to recommend or allow any New York City family to send their child to a school that I wouldn’t send my child,” Cuomo said at a news conference on Monday.
He said the state would take over enforcement of social distancing rules from local authorities in the hot spots.
Cuomo and de Blasio have repeatedly squabbled over government responses to the spread of COVID-19. Cuomo again chastised the mayor on Monday for what he said was lackluster enforcement of social distancing rules.
The two leaders have not appeared together in public in many months, although Cuomo said he spoke by phone with the mayor earlier on Monday.
De Blasio has defended his efforts.
“I think it goes far beyond the question of enforcement,” he told CNN on Monday in response to Cuomo’s comments. “I think here’s a case where we need to really work deeply with communities, with community leaders, to have a bigger turnaround in the way people are handling things.”
Cuomo said he was also concerned about similar rising coronavirus rates in Rockland and Orange counties north of New York City, and that he may consider closing schools there too.
Many of the affected neighborhoods include large, close-knit Orthodox Jewish communities. Cuomo said he planned to meet with community leaders again on Tuesday to seek their help with getting people to comply with the rules.
New York faced one of the nation’s earliest and most devastating outbreaks of the novel coronavirus in the spring, but has since managed to largely curtail its spread.
On Monday, 1.22% of coronavirus tests statewide were reported to be positive, including those from the hot spots, Cuomo said.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen and Maria Caspani; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Berkrot)