New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will determine by the first week in August if regional infection rates are low enough to reopen schools, saying he refuses to use the state’s children as “guinea pigs” as President Trump makes a hard push to resume in-person learning.
Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, said schools will get a green light if they are in the fourth phase their reopening plans and the positivity rate is under 5%.
The governor criticized Mr. Trump for his aggressive push to send kids back this fall, saying the federal government hasn’t done enough to address safety.
“He was wrong on the economic reopening, he’s wrong on the schools reopening,” Mr. Cuomo said, referring to southern states that restarted their economies swiftly and are seeing rapid transmission.
The Trump administration says children don’t appear to be big transmitters of the disease and that school closures are even more harmful to children. Officials have threatened to withhold funding if institutions remain closed.
The governor said there are too many unknowns about the disease.
“We’re not going to use our children as the litmus test,” Mr. Cuomo said. “We’re not going to use our children as guinea pigs.”
Mr. Cuomo is celebrating a sharp decrease in transmission after his state was, by far, the hardest hit earlier in the pandemic.
He drew a contrast between New York, which faced a big spike at the outset of the virus — before a testing system was operable and the nation realized how widespread it was — and states that are seeing an uptick after nationwide lockdowns.
He said even as New York reopens, cases haven’t ticked up, and “they’ve actually gone down.”
“So the reopening strategy has worked,” Mr. Cuomo said. “It shows that this nation can defeat COVID. There was no reason to have these states on the increase.”
He said the state cannot get “cocky,” however, as it continues to reopen, saying it will set them back like other states.
The governor’s already worried about new cases from out of state, citing a cluster in Rensselaer County traced back to travelers from Georgia.
Mr. Cuomo said out-of-state visitors to airports in New York will have to fill out a form stating where they’re coming from and plan to be, or else face a $2,000 fine.