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Schools are some of ‘the safest places places’ children can be, CDC director says

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Schools are among ‘the safest places’ that American children can be amid surging cases of coronavirus across the country, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr Robert Redfield said on Thursday night. 

During the rare White House coronavirus task force briefing, he called school closures an ’emotional response’ to rising infection rates. 

He said that data does not support the notion that closing schools reduces coronavirus transmissions. 

It comes after New York City public schools were closed down on Thursday and students returned to fully remote learning. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the closures after the city’s coronavirus test positivity rate reached three percent. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo hit back at the Mayor for his decision on Thursday, saying the city had acted too soon. He dubbed in-person learning ‘safe’ because, while the city positivity rate was three percent, the rate in schools was much lower at 0.19 percent. 

Numerous studies have now suggested that children are not major ‘vectors’ of coronavirus, and are less likely to become infected with coronavirus or spread it, compared to adults. 

Dr Redfield said that infections detected in schools did not originate there, but simply reflected the spread of coronavirus in the wider community. 

‘Last spring, we did not recommend that schools close, and we do not recommend it today,’ said Dr Redfield during the Thursday briefing. 

CDC director Dr Robert Redfield urged schools to remain open, calling them among the ‘safest places’ children can be amid surging coronavirus cases in the U.S. during a Thursday night White House coronavirus task force press briefing 

Mayor Bill De Blasio announced on Wednesday that New York City schools would be closed from Thursday after the city’s coronavirus test positivity rate hit three percent

‘In the spring we had limited data’ on whether schools are drivers of coronavirus transmission, ‘today we have data to confirm that K-12 schools can operate face-to-face learning and can do so safely and responsibly.

But not all school districts – especially those in metropolitan areas that were hard-hit by the first wave of coronavirus in the spring – seem to believe that that’s the case. 

Boston officials stopped in-person learning in late October.  Philadelphia, a number of Maryland counties the entire state of Michigan have followed suit. 

This week, Fairfax, Virginia postponed its plan for some of the city’s youngest children and kids with disabilities to return to classrooms. 

Restrictions like these have been put into place or reinstated as U.S. cases surge to more than 180,000 in 24 hours, on Thursday. Deaths have surpassed 250,000 with more than 2,000 recorded yesterday. 

As of this week, more than 1.6 million children in the U.S. have had coronavirus, according to CDC data. 

But the vast majority develop only mild infections, and many have no symptoms at all. So far, 140 pediatric deaths have been recorded by the CDC. 

Parents and children protested outside New York’s City Hall this week after Mayor de Blasio closed schools as the city’s coronavirus test positivity rate hit three percent 

Earlier in the pandemic, health experts feared that these mild and asymptomatic pediatric infections could fuel rampant and silent spread of coronavirus. 

That does not appear to be the case. Children’s immune systems seem better equipped to fight off coronavirus (studies to determine exactly why are underway), keeping their viral loads low enough that they are unlikely to transmit the infection to adults or other children.  

Infections detected on-campus ‘were not acquired in schools but in the community and household,’ said Dr Redfield. 

‘Data strongly supports that K-12 schools and, really, higher education are not where we really have problems.  

Over the summer, whether to send children and college students back to school in the fall was a subject of much controversy.  

CUOMO SAYS IT’S STILL TOO SOON TO CLOSE NYC AFTER DE BLASIO CLOSED SCHOOLS AND WARNEED A LOCKDOWN IS IMMINENT 

Cuomo says it’s still too soon to close NYC despite de Blasio warning second lockdown is imminent as he is slammed for ‘ignoring health officials to shut down schools’ while bars and restaurants stay open 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday that it was too soon to start closing New York City despite Mayor Bill de Blasio claiming another lockdown was coming ‘soon’ as a justification for shutting public schools. 

De Blasio has been slammed for deciding on Wednesday that he was going to close all public schools despite the infection rate in New York City being just 3 percent and only 0.19 percent in schools. 

Parents are furious that their kids can’t go to class while bars, restaurants, nail salons and other non-essential businesses are still open. Many private schools are also still open. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified closing public schools because he said Gov. Cuomo was going to start shutting down businesses ‘soon’. On Thursday, Cuomo said it was still too soon for that

De Blasio, in trying to justify his decision, on Thursday said it was because New York City had once been ‘the epicenter’. He also promised that Cuomo – who is the only official with the power to shut down businesses – would do so soon. 

But during a call with reporters, Cuomo said the infection rate was still too low. When asked why de Blasio had taken the decision and if he agreed with it, he said ‘you’d have to ask the school district’.  

It has also been claimed that de Blasio ignored his own health experts to shut the schools. 

According to a senior official cited by The New York Daily News, ‘senior city health officials have expressed to the mayor and his administration their disagreement and concern with using the 3 percent threshold to close schools in the city, given that schools themselves are not at 3 percent and that transmission in schools is not as big a concern as it is in other settings like bars and restaurants.’ A spokesman for de Blasio’s office denied it.  

Nationwide, COVID-19 cases are increasing. Panic buying has started again in some states and many cities are struggling to keep up with the number of people lining up for tests again. 

Across the state of New York, the test positivity rate decreased between Tuesday and Wednesday from 3.4% to 2.7%. Contextually, Chicago has an infection rate of 15 percent, California’s is 8 percent, Alabama is 24.7 percent, Iowa is 50 percent and South Dakota is 55.9 percent and none have taken measures as de Blasio has.

POSITIVITY RATES

MANHATTAN – 2.3%

BROOKLYN –  3.9%

QUEENS – 4.6% 

BRONX – 5.1%

STATEN ISLAND  – 4.5%

NYC WHOLE – 2.5%

NY STATE –  2.8% 

CALIFORNIA – 8% 

ALABAMA – 24.7% 

IOWA – 50% 

SOUTH DAKOTA – 55.6% 

NATIONWIDE: 10% 

On Thursday morning, de Blasio was was roasted during an appearance on CBS This Morning where gave no other reason for sticking to the 3% threshold other than ‘because we were once the epicenter’. 

He insists that Cuomo is about to shut down New York City, and is using that as his justification. 

‘The governor made clear yesterday that New York State is going to very soon be applying an orange zone standard to New York City. 

‘That will be closing indoor dining. Those restrictions are coming very soon,’ he said. 

He insisted that his decision is not ‘political in the least’, adding: ‘We’re dealing with a new circumstance, a surge that we have to be very, very concerned about. 

‘We’ve got to reset this equation. 

‘So, I say to my fellow parents, I don’t expect this to go for long, I expect us to come up with a new standard that’s more stringent. 

‘We’re going to ask a lot of parents – we’re going to ask them to get their kids tested a lot, but then we can come back.’

Asked why he took the decision to close schools when everything else was open, he said: ‘Because we were the epicenter of this crisis.’ 

He also warned that he would enforce a tougher standard once they reopened but did not say what that would be. Cuomo on Thursday shirked responsibility for the public schools closure. 

‘I left discretion to the local school districts. NYC came up with their rules. 

‘They have their individual rules…on the 700 school districts, you have to talk to them,’ he said. 

While the numbers are coming down now or at least holding steady, Cuomo says there will be a spike after Thanksgiving.

‘There’s a new factor. Living room spread. 

‘In addition to those other factors. We know indoor dining has been a problem. The gyms, the hair salons; every national health agency has identified them.

‘We then add the theory, which is also from the CDC, that family, living room spread is now a new factor. I am telling you – I will wager you – that if people are not extraordinarily diligent, and act in a way they’ve never acted before, you’re going to see a very large spike.

‘The travel is a very large problem for us. If people are coming from Vermont or Maine they don’t pose a risk. If they come from anywhere else, they pose a risk.

‘Better safe than sorry. We went through this once before,’ he said. 

He went on: ‘From here until January is very dangerous. 

‘A vaccine is on the way… but not in any time frame that is going to make any difference to the immediate future.’ 

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