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A student is informed by a crossing guard of a temporary school closure in Brooklyn. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

New York City's public school system will close for in-person learning beginning Thursday after coronavirus positivity rates in the city topped 3%, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Why it matters: The city, which is staring down a second coronavirus wave after being the world's epicenter for the pandemic earlier this year, previously boasted having more students physically in classrooms than nearly any other locality in the country, per the New York Times.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Marisa Fernandez: The tough decision taps into the struggle of school districts all across the country during this time of peak community spread.

Worth noting: Despite the closure, indoor dining remains open at a reduced capacity across the state, per the Times.

What they're saying: Asked at a press conference if the school closure was a setback to the state's handling of the virus, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, "If you’re on the planet, the cases are going up."

  • "The whole world is going up. Right? The whole world. Every state in the nation is going up. Right? So success becomes what? How you’re doing relative to everybody else. That’s what success becomes.”
  • "And New Yorkers are doing better than everybody else."

The big picture: Hospitalizations in New York are steadily rising, and cases in the state have seen a dramatic jump this month — but the numbers are still well below the levels seen this spring, per the COVID Tracking Project.

Go deeper

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy.
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: America struggles to keep schools open — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers.
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker
Jan 30, 2021 - World

Germany to impose travel restrictions to curb spread of coronavirus variants

Border police officers check passports and COVID-19 tests at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Thomas Lohnes via Getty Images

Germany announced Friday that it was imposing new travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

Details: All non-German residents traveling from countries deemed "areas of variant concern," including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, Brazil, Lesotho and Eswatini, will be banned from entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.

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