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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that schools will only reopen if they meet scientific criteria that show the coronavirus is under control in their region, including a daily infection rate of below 5% over a 14-day average. "We're not going to use our children as guinea pigs," he added.

The big picture: Cuomo's insistence that New York will rely on data to decide whether to reopen schools comes as President Trump and his administration continue an aggressive push to get kids back in the classroom as part of their efforts to juice the economy.

  • Trump attacked the CDC's guidelines on reopening schools safely last week as "very tough and expensive," while Education Secretary Betsy DeVos stressed on Sunday that the guidelines are "flexible" and only meant to be recommendations.
  • DeVos also doubled down on threats to withhold federal funding from schools that choose not to reopen, arguing that the money should be redirected to families who can use it to find another option for their children.

What Cuomo is saying:

  • "On schools, what does [Trump] say? 'Reopen the schools. Just open them up, don't worry.' He was wrong on the economic reopening. He's wrong on the schools reopening."
  • "Everybody wants to reopen the schools. ... It's not, do we reopen or not? You reopen if it is safe to reopen. How do you know if it's safe? You look at the data."
  • "If you have the virus under control, reopen. If you don't have the virus under control, then you can’t reopen. We're not gonna use our children as a litmus test and we're not going to put our children in a place where their health is endangered. It's that simple."

Details: Cuomo that schools can only begin in-person learning once the region has entered "Phase 4" of its reopening plan.

  • Decisions on which districts will be allowed to reopen will be made during the first week in August.
  • If a region's infection rate is above 9% on a seven-day average after that first week, Cuomo said reopenings will be paused.

Go deeper: Pelosi says Trump is "messing with the health of our children" with push to open schools

Go deeper

Updated Dec 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Americans shrug off Omicron, Axios-Ipsos poll finds — CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise."
  2. Vaccines: Omicron gives a shot to boosters — U.S. announces $400M for global COVID vaccine distribution — Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles down.
  3. States: Gov. Hochul will order some NY hospitals to halt elective surgeries — Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers.
  4. World: EU drug regulator backs mixing COVID vaccines — Poor global equity likely in COVID pill access — CDC raises travel advisories for France, Portugal to highest level amid COVID surge.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Oct 21, 2020 - Health

Studies show drop in COVID death rate

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

There's been a sharp drop in mortality rates among hospitalized coronavirus patients, including older patients and those with pre-existing health conditions, per two new peer-reviewed studies.

By the numbers: One study that looked at a single health system found that hospitalized patients had a 25.6% chance of dying at the start of the pandemic, but now have only a 7.6% chance, NPR reports.

Oct 21, 2020 - Health

The overwhelming aftershocks of the pandemic

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The coronavirus pandemic will wreak havoc on the U.S. health care system long after it ends — whenever that may be.

Why it matters: The pre-pandemic health care system was already full of holes, many of which have been exposed and exacerbated over the past several months, and many Americans will be stuck with that system as they grapple with the long-term consequences of the pandemic.