CORONAVIRUS IN NYC: Cases top 96K, deaths reach 5,463 as Cuomo, de Blasio clash over school closures

1010 WINS Newsroom
April 11, 2020 - 6:30 pm

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — Mayor Bill de Blasio said Saturday that public schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year as New York City continues efforts to contain the coronavirus, which has claimed more than 5,400 lives across the five boroughs. But just two hours later, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it wasn't the mayor's decision to make, just his "opinion."

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"It's the right thing to do," de Blasio said Saturday morning. "It clearly will help us save, because it will help us to guarantee that the strategies that have been working—the shelter in place, the social distancing—all the focused strategies that are finally beginning to bear fruit, they need the time to continue to be effective."

The school system has 1.1 million pupils who have been taking part in online learning since the school system closed on March 16. The effort has had mixed success in the city, where many low-income students lack Wi-Fi and devices for connecting to their virtual classrooms.

At his daily briefing, Cuomo responded to de Blasio's announcement, saying "that's the mayor's opinion."

"There has been no decision on the schools," Cuomo said.

He also said there's been no decision on when to open businesses.

"I understand the mayor’s position is also that busineses will probably open in May," Cuomo said. "Again, no decision has been made on whether or not business will open."

Cuomo said it's his legal authority to close or re-open schools. "That's why when we closed them, we closed them statewide," he said.

"It will be a metropolitan-wide decision," Cuomo added. "It will be coordinated with the business decision. It will be coordinated with the rest of the state," Cuomo said. "It will definitely be coordinated with New Jersey and Connecticut."

De Blasio's press secretary, Freddi Goldstein, issued a swift reaction to Cuomo's press conference, saying the schools will remain closed.

"The Governor's reaction to us keeping schools closed is reminiscent of how he reacted when the Mayor called for a shelter in place," Goldstein wrote. "We were right then and we're right now."

"Schools will remain closed, just like how we eventually - days later - moved to a shelter in place model," Goldstein continued.

In a later tweet, Goldstein said the mayor had called and texted the governor before the decision was announced.

"We wanted parents and teachers to have certainty as early as possible," Goldstein wrote. "When the Mayor made the call, he informed the Governor (called and texted). Our staff also spoke. We told the public. Those are the facts. Let's keep kids and their parents first."

De Blasio responded to the governor on MSNBC Saturday evening: "I’ll always work with the state of New York. I’ll always work with the governor, but the bottom line is my responsibility is not to the federal government, the state government. My responsibility is not to another elected official. My responsibility is to those kids, those parents, those educators who need to be safe. And my responsibility is to protect my people."

1010 WINS has reached out to the governor's office and mayor's office for clarification.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams reacted on Twitter, telling the mayor and governor to "cut the crap."

"I don’t have the time. I don’t have patience for petty back-and-forths in the middle of a deadly pandemic," Adams wrote.

De Blasio initially resisted closing schools even as the city recorded its first deaths from the coronavirus, saying he feared that health care workers would have to stay home to care for children and that hundreds of thousands of poor students would go hungry without their free school meals.

Authorities in some other locales, including the states of Virginia and Pennsylvania, have previously announced that schools will be shuttered for the rest of the year.

As of Saturday, there have been 96,522 coronavirus cases reported across the five boroughs and 5,463 deaths.

The breakdown by borough is:

  • Queens: 30,480
  • Brooklyn: 25,339
  • The Bronx: 21,061 
  • Manhattan: 12,391
  • Staten Island: 7,213

De Blasio also announced Saturday that 6,000 New York adults in the city's homeless shelter system will be moved to hotels to minimize their risk of catching the coronavirus. He said that's about 1/3 of single clients in the overall shelter system.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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