Coronavirus Update: New York City likely to enter orange zone the first week of December, de Blasio warns

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NEW YORK (WABC) — Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday again warned New York City is headed for new restrictions as data shows COVID-19 cases are still rising.

“The restrictions that are coming. I’ve been very overt in the fact that the governor said an orange zone is coming. By our own projections, based on the state data, that will happen soon after Thanksgiving, probably the first week of December,” de Blasio said during a radio appearance.

Those restrictions will include closing indoor dining, gyms, and other things.

“I don’t say that with anything but sorrow for the people who work in those places, the people who own those small businesses. But that is what is going to happen,” he said.

Under state guidelines, New York City would need a 7-day 3% positivity rate for 10 straight days to move into the orange zone.

Governor Cuomo said he’s not a prognosticator, but suggested parts of the city could face new restrictions if they are not careful over Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, New York City’s entire public school system is closed for in-person learning through Thanksgiving.

“On schools, we will have an update before Thanksgiving, in the next few days, on the reopening plan and what it is going to take,” de Blasio said.

Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza has said the goal is to reopen schools by next month, although there is no clear path to an agreement with the United Federation of Teachers union on establishing an in-school threshold for students to return.

“The positivity rates at our schools are significantly lower than that of the city. However, schools are a microcosm of the city and students have to traverse through the city to get to school, so while that positivity rate is growing in the city, schools aren’t immune from that, and keeping our word was very important to the mayor, and to myself,” Carranza said.

During an interview for Up Close with Bill Ritter, Carranza did not indicate that three percent threshold would change for schools.

The head of the teachers unions is expressing some optimism that schools will be able to reopen again soon.

“We’ve proven that we can do this safely, but I think everyone needs to understand what we’re headed into, what the doctors are telling us, over the next couple of months. This should be our next big hurdle. But it’s more important that we all work together as a city,” UFT President Michal Mulgrew said.

At MS 143 in the Bronx, the only activity on Friday was from students who graduated in June finally picking up their middle school diplomas. It was a mini-reunion for these friends who all went on to different high schools this fall and have been all remote almost this whole school year. It definitely feels like something is missing.

“The interaction with other students. I feel like that’s a big part of high school. Since I’m just starting. I’m not really sure but I would like to make friends and stuff. And just sending emails to new students, that’s not the same,” Yanelyss Jerez, a 9th grader, said.

“I feel very isolated and very introverted, compared to when we were in actual school,” Kayliz Fariell, 9th grader, added.

It’s that emotional impact the pandemic is having on students that was the topic of a New York City Council education committee virtual meeting.

“The impacts our kids are experiencing. They’re no longer temporary. These impacts are generational,” NYC Council Member Mark Treyger said.

Even when schools do return in person, there won’t be quite as many students coming back as the city expected. Only 35-thousand more students opted into blended learning to come back when schools come back. Some students told Eyewitness News they are going all remote in part because it’s the safest option for their families.

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Private schools are not impacted by the city ruling and remain open for in-person instruction.

De Blasio said the city are working with the state by having a number of conversations with the governor on what it would take to bring schools back.

“I want that to be clear,” he said. “We have stringent health and safety standards right now. We have to raise that even higher to be able to bring our schools back, but that is exactly what we are going to do.”

The mayor also urged for more testing and implored parents to return the parental consent form for students to be tested.

WATCH | NYC mayor suggests indoor dining will likely shut down soon

Many health officials believe the real threat comes from private gatherings in people’s homes.

The CDC is now advising against travel for Thanksgiving. They recommend having dinner with people you already see on a regular basis, and if you do host extended family, do it outside.

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