NYC coronavirus: Schools and subways remain open but large events canceled

Broadway shows will remain open but will be at half capacity, he added.

The announcement came as officials said they plan to take more aggressive actions to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus in the nation’s largest and most densely populated city.

In a city like New York, “there’s no such thing as social distancing,” Cuomo said. “You’re always within six feet of a person.”

“We really need to take more aggressive actions. This is not going away on its own,” he added.

New York mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN on Thursday morning that there are 62 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the city, up from 52 on Wednesday.

“It has been growing steadily,” he said.

There have been up to 40 confirmed cases in Nassau County on Long Island, including one person in an assisted living facility, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.

Still, those tallies are well below the number of cases in New Rochelle, a small suburb outside New York that has become one of the largest clusters of coronavirus spread in the country. Dozens of cases have been connected to a 50-year-old attorney who works near Grand Central Station in Manhattan and who tested positive for the virus on March 2, Cuomo said.

The city is going to “introduce more and more restrictions” Thursday and Friday to stem the pandemic, according to de Blasio.

“We are going to very quickly put out guidance about having to reduce crowds and audiences while still having a certain amount of activity,” he said.

And the issue is not going away anytime soon. New York City could take at least six months, until September, to get back to some sense of normalcy because of coronavirus, de Blasio said.

Subways to remain open

According to de Blasio, the goal is to strike a balance between restricting the spread of the disease while maintaining people’s livelihoods. Given that balance, he said he is not going to shut down the subway system that connects so much of the city.

Commuting in the time of coronavirus in the nation's largest subway system

“If you do that, you’re shutting down the economy and work and livelihood,” he said.

Crowded trains carry more than 5 million people each weekday. On Monday, Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman and CEO Pat Foye sought to assure the public the trains “remain safe” but urged people with health issues, “If you can get around without riding the subway, do it.”

The MTA, the state agency that runs the subway, buses and commuter rails, last week announced it was using bleach and other disinfectants recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to scour all equipment in the system every 72 hours.

Health experts urged subway and bus riders to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, after disembarking.

Two schools closed after case

In general, officials said they wanted to keep schools open. One key concern with closing schools in New York City is that schools provide free meals for those who are hungry or have food insecurity. Children are catching the coronavirus, but they’re generally developing mild cases of the illness, according to health experts. Still, they could pass the virus along to those who are more susceptible.

Two co-located schools in the Bronx are closing due to a student’s “self-confirmed” positive case of coronavirus, de Blasio said in a statement.

The Health Department will trace close contacts of the student to recommend quarantine and testing as necessary, he said. The Department of Education will completely disinfect the building, which will be closed for an initial 24-hour period.

“We don’t make this decision lightly, and we know the disruption and anxiety this means for students, faculty and parents,” de Blasio said.

A self-confirmed case means that the child’s parent has told the city the child tested positive, but the case has not yet been formally logged in the state database, according to the mayor’s press spokesperson.

Several universities in the city have told their students to stay home and attend classes online, including Columbia University, Barnard College, New York University and City University of New York.

Large events canceled

Health experts have recommended limiting large gatherings and close contact as an effective way to stem the spread of coronavirus. Because of that, a number of major events have been canceled or postponed in the past few days.

The St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City was officially postponed “due to the high density and the large volume of marchers and spectators who attend,” according to a statement from Cuomo’s office.

On Wednesday, the NBA suspended the rest of its season after a player on the Utah Jazz tested positive for coronavirus. By Thursday, a second player tested positive. That means New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets games are no more. The Jazz played the Knicks at Madison Square Garden last week.
The Big East conference basketball tournament scheduled for Madison Square Garden this weekend will take place without fans.

“Attendees will be limited to student-athletes, coaches, event staff, essential team and conference staff, television personnel, credentialed media and immediate family members of the participating teams,” the Big East said.

What life is like inside the coronavirus containment zone in New Rochelle, New York
The New York City half-marathon, originally scheduled for Sunday and expected to attract 25,000 runners, was also canceled.

Broadway shows at half-capacity

Broadway Theaters are required to have maximum capacity of 50% of total seating as of 5 p.m. Thursday, Gov. Cuomo said Thursday.

“50% of your seated capacity will be the new capacity,” Cuomo said.

And de Blasio said he did not want to cancel Broadway shows outright.

“I don’t want to see Broadway go dark, if we can avoid it,” he said.

A part-time employee of both the Shubert and Nederlander organizations who recently worked on Broadway tested positive for coronavirus, according to a statement from the companies.

The individual who is currently under quarantine most recently worked at Shubert’s Booth Theatre Tuesday to Friday of last week during performances of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” and at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre February 25th and March 1st when it was showing “SIX.” A deep cleaning took place at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, according to a press release provided by DKC/O&M public relations.

Employees of the theaters and the productions who may have been exposed were notified and advised to monitor their health, the companies said.

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld will cancel two upcoming stand-up shows scheduled for this weekend in New York City at the Beacon Theatre, he said on Instagram.

“Let’s do this another time when we can relax and enjoy it more,” Seinfeld wrote

CNN’s Taylor Romine, Kristina Sgueglia and Jason Kravarik contributed to this report.

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