Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday the state’s health department would require colleges to report when they have more than 100 COVID-19 cases and that colleges above that threshold may be forced to switch to remote learning.
“Colleges across the country are seeing outbreaks,” Cuomo said at a news conference, noting that Cornell University and Hofstra University were among schools in the state that have had outbreaks. “This is going to be a problem.”
Hofstra called the governor’s characterization misleading and said the university is following necessary guidelines.
“The governor’s directive monitors positive results as of August 28, and we have had a total of 34 positive cases out of a total on-campus population of 9,200 since that date,” the university said. “In every instance, appropriate protocols have been followed, with immediate isolation and quarantine in coordination with the Department of Health. Unlike some schools, we have conducted thousands of initial tests, have begun surveillance testing and offer on-site symptomatic and other testing as advised by clinicians.”
The governor’s spokesman Jack Sterne shot back, saying Hofstra’s cases are concerning.
“Governor Cuomo has been clear that COVID can easily spread on college campuses and must be monitored closely,” Sterne said. “Seventy-four confirmed cases among the student body, there is obviously cause for concern at Hofstra and the Department of Health will continue to treat this like what it is: an outbreak that must be watched.”
Cuomo, a Democrat, also accused Republican President Donald Trump of “trying to kill New York City” by not advocating for additional federal aid to help states deal with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, including funds to clean schools and trains.
Earlier on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republican leaders of the U.S. Senate will introduce a proposal for additional coronavirus relief on Tuesday and could schedule a vote as soon as this week.
McConnell said the proposal – expected to have a far smaller scope than a bill passed in the Democratic-led House of Representatives – would focus on “some of the very most urgent healthcare, education and economic issues.”
Cuomo, who has repeatedly blamed the Trump administration for not acting more quickly and aggressively to prevent spread of the virus, said the president and the Republican-majority Senate would court economic disaster if they did not provide significant federal aid to the states.
“If they don’t provide a response the national economy will suffer for years,” he said.
A separate coronavirus tracker for colleges and universities can be found at suny.edu/covid19-tracker
-With Timothy Bolger
Related Story: NY Adding Cases in Schools To Coronavirus Tracker
For more coronavirus coverage, visit longislandpress.com/coronavirus