New York City could begin to ease coronavirus restrictions in June | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children


An almost-empty Times Square in April. | Kena Betancur/Getty Images

NEW YORK — New York City will remain largely shut down at least into June, but could begin to ease some restrictions next month if progress in combating the coronavirus pandemic continues, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.

“We’re clearly not ready yet,” de Blasio told reporters at a press briefing Monday.

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“Unless something miraculous happens, we’re going into June,” he said. “June is when we’re potentially going to be able to make some real changes, if we can continue our progress.”

The virus has killed 19,931 people in the city, and the number of confirmed cases stands at 178,766, according to city data.

School has already been canceled for the rest of the academic year, and public events have been called off through the end of June. Under a state order — which could begin to ease at the end of this week for less-affected upstate regions — gatherings of any size are banned, nonessential businesses are closed and people must stay six feet apart from each other.

In the latest data, the number of patients newly hospitalized for Covid-19 fell to 55, and the number of people in intensive care units at public hospitals dropped modestly.

“We’re going to always go by the data. It’s been pretty good, and pretty consistent. It’s not quite been what we need it to be,” de Blasio said. “We’ve got to guard against a boomerang, and at any point if the data started to change, that then delays the moment when you could do any kind of loosening of restrictions.”

Officials are also watching with growing alarm as children are diagnosed with an inflammatory syndrome that appears linked to Covid-19, which has sickened 38 kids in the city so far. Most of the kids affected have been between the ages of 5 and 9, officials said Monday. The illness, which casts doubt on previous beliefs that children were at little risk from the virus, could affect plans to reopen schools in September, de Blasio acknowledged.

“We’re taking it very seriously. We’re watching it very carefully, and anything we do about schools is going to be led by health and safety first,” de Blasio said. “As of this moment, we believe we can reopen schools safely and well in September. But we have to keep a very close watch on this syndrome.”

With pressure easing on hospitals, the city plans to send masks, gloves, and medical staff to 1,000 local clinics in neighborhoods hard-hit by the pandemic, de Blasio announced Monday.

The city will send 120,000 surgical masks and 115,000 pairs of gloves per week to 1,000 medical practices, some of which have shut down in the midst of the pandemic because of lack of staffing and protective equipment.

Hundreds of doctors and nurses from the city’s medical reserve corps will be deployed to the clinics, which are spread across 26 neighborhoods in the five boroughs. It’s part of an effort to tackle racial disparities in the spread of the virus, which has killed black and Latino New Yorkers at roughly twice the rate of whites.

“They’re the place people turn for health care who don’t have other options,” de Blasio said.

The city also plans to use the local clinics as part of its push to ramp up testing and trace the contacts of people with Covid-19, but details of that arrangement were not immediately provided.

Meanwhile, alternate side parking, which has been suspended since mid-March, will be put back in effect for one week starting next Monday to allow for a major street cleaning, de Blasio announced.

After that, it will be suspended for at least another two weeks.

“We do see a number of areas in the city where some litter is starting to add up, and we’re concerned,” de Blasio said.


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