New York students will stay home through summer, upstate hospitalizations tick upward
Here are the latest coronavirus updates from the hardest hid region in the U.S.
By Karen Matthews, Marina Villeneuve and Michael Hill
NEW YORK — Summer school students will not be reporting to the classroom. New York City will deliver one million meals a day to fight hunger during the outbreak. State labor officials hit with a flood of unemployment applications say they're working through the backlog.
Coronavirus developments in New York:
Summer school in New York will be conducted remotely, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday, citing the risks of returning children to the classroom.
The governor said it's too early to make a decision about the fall semester. School buildings in New York have been closed since March.
Schools obviously pose risks. They're places of gathering. They're on buses. They're in classrooms," Cuomo said at his daily briefing. "How do you reduce density in a classroom? How do you reduce density in a cafeteria, on a school bus, et cetera? How do you get children to wear masks?"
Cuomo also mentioned increasing awareness and concern about a syndrome affecting children that is thought to be linked to COVID-19. Pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome affects blood vessels and organs and has symptoms including prolonged fever, abdominal pain and vomiting.
New York is investigating 157 cases of the syndrome, which has been reported in more than a dozen countries. Two young boys and an 18-year-old woman diagnosed with the syndrome have died in New York state.
Meal programs and child care for essential employees will continue during the summer session, Cuomo said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday said instruction in the city's public schools will be online this summer.
There were 105 new deaths reported statewide, the fourth straight day the daily death toll has hovered slightly above 100. The death tally peaked at 799 on April 8.
There were 5,187 COVID-19 patients hospitalized statewide, a drop of 383 from the day before.
Cuomo's administration says it's making progress on its backlog of pending unemployment benefit applications.
New York has paid out over $10 billion in benefits to more than two million individuals, state labor commissioner Roberta Reardon said. That's up from $2.1 billion paid out in total last year.
Critics say the state's system has been too slow to help unemployed workers. In response, the labor department revamped its website and made other changes.
Cuomo's administration looked at over a million applications submitted before April 22, and found the state hasn't processed 7,580 claims that are missing information.
Another 15,831 are going through final processing that includes a check for fraud and identity theft, according to Reardon. The state has processed another 20,801 claims but hasn't released those benefits because individuals haven't submitted federally mandated weekly certifications.
"We will continue to try get in touch with everyone who applied so we can connect them with the benefits they are eligible for," Reardon said.
New York City is meeting the coronavirus crisis with a massive emergency food assistance program and will be delivering 1 million meals daily by next week, with another 500,000 meals available daily for pickup at school sites, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
We will let no New Yorker go hungry, period," de Blasio said. "It's not acceptable, no matter what we're up against, that anyone would be hungry in this city."
The city-provided meals are supposed to meet nutritional guidelines, and kosher, halal and vegetarian food is supposed to be available to those who request it.
The city has fired two vendors whose meals fell short of those standards, said Kathryn Garcia, the sanitation commissioner who de Blasio named as "food czar" during the pandemic.
"Just be clear, here's what I will not tolerate in this program: any expired food, meals that don't meet our nutritional guidelines, late or missing deliveries and different meals than you ordered," Garcia said.
Areas of upstate New York have been seeing more people hospitalized with COVID-19, including parts of the state recently cleared for reopening.
The total number of people hospitalized has been slowly declining statewide since mid-April, driven largely by lower numbers in New York City and the downstate region.
But the central New York region, which includes Syracuse, went from 52 total hospitalizations on May 9 to 80 Wednesday. That's down from a regional high of 84 the day before. The Finger Lakes region went from 124 hospitalization to 175 over the same period. The Finger Lakes hit a regional high of 180 on Monday.
Jim Malatras, who serves on the governor's coronavirus task force, said they were monitoring what he characterized as small upticks. He noted that some increases are limited to specific issues, like a recent outbreak at a greenhouse in Madison County.
"The rate of transmission is still relatively low, but the next couple of days, we'll know," Malatras said.
Cuomo said there's about a two-week lag on the hospitalization rate, so it could not be related to some regions reopening Friday.
COVID-19 symptoms appear on average five to six days after exposure to the virus, though they can take up to two weeks, according to the World Health Organization.