ALBANY — The state will close any New York school district that fails to submit daily COVID-19 testing and infection data to comply with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order, officials said Friday.

Gov. Cuomo sent letters to 42 of the state’s 713 school districts Friday, or about 6%, demanding they submit the required coronavirus data to the state Health Department each day, or else schools will be closed to in-person classes and limited to remote, or online, learning as the pandemic continues.

All schools, local health departments, laboratories and testing sites are required to report daily coronavirus data to the Health Department to be included on the state’s tracker, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Sept. 8 executive order.

“Forty-two schools are receiving orders for noncompliance in submitting data,” the governor said Friday during a telephone coronavirus briefing. “Six-hundred and forty-eight school districts submitted data. That’s 94%.

“I don’t know why. I’m sure every school district has a separate explanation. They’re in violation of the law and they’re going to get a letter.”

Representatives from the governor’s press office did not respond to multiple requests for comment when questioned how long schools will have to comply with the Sept. 8 mandate before the state shutters a district, or how long a district will remain closed.

Ninety-seven new COVID-19 cases in schools were reported to the state Thursday, including 58 positive New York students and 39 teachers and staff members.

The state’s public coronavirus interactive tool, the COVID-19 Report Card, tracks virus infections and testing numbers in each of the state’s 713 school districts at schoolcovidreportcard.health.ny.gov.

The governor has said the tracker serves as a system of checks and balances as schools that reopened for in-person learning this fall were required to submit detailed testing and reopening plans to the state.

“We need to know the data to know if they’re operating safely,” Cuomo said. “I told the parents of the state that we will have the data and if the data shows any problematic situation, we’ll close down the school. If we don’t have the data, then you’re having children walk into the school blind, if you will, and we’re not going to do that.

“If I can’t tell parents the schools are safe or I can’t tell parents you look at the data and you make the decision ... I believe it is their decision, then the school is going to close.”

The Hudson, Ichabod Crane, Taconic Hills, Germantown, Chatham and New Lebanon school districts each reported data Thursday to the state Health Department and are in compliance with the state mandate, according to schoolcovidreportcard.health.ny.gov.

Each of Greene County’s public school districts, including Catskill, Cairo-Durham, Coxsackie-Athens, Greenville, Windham-Ashland-Jewett and Hunter-Tannersville, last reported data to the Health Department on Thursday.

The state’s 713 school districts reported about 4,500 new coronavirus diagnostic testing results to the state Health Department on Thursday, with about 1,800 results from public districts. Schools have conducted about 66,000 tests since the start of the 2020-21 academic year last month, with 29,000 completed by public schools and about 36,000 conducted through non-public and charter districts, Cuomo said.

Schools not complying with submitting COVID-19 testing data indicates a problem, the governor said.

“If the school can’t provide the testing data, it probably means the school isn’t testing,” he said. “If the school said they were going to test and then they’re not testing, that means there’s an issue. The schools all came up with plans. The data submission is really the evidence of implementation of the plan, and if they’re not implementing the plan and if that was the basis upon which parents sent back their children, they should know.”

Officials continue to study the state’s top 20 COVID-19 hot spot ZIP codes mainly concentrated in Rockland and Orange counties in the Mid-Hudson Region, and neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, which primarily originated from large religious gatherings in the Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish communities. Members of the state’s coronavirus task force are also monitoring hundreds of new virus infections in the city of Binghamton and several surrounding towns in Broome County, Western New York and various colleges and university campuses across upstate to prevent a second wave of COVID-19.

The hot-spot ZIP codes had an average 5.4% positive infection rate, which skews the statewide infection rate higher.

The state reported 1,194 new COVID-19 infections of 131,993 tests conducted Thursday, or 1.1% positive, including the hot-spot ZIP codes or areas with virus clusters. New York had a 0.9% infection rate Friday without the hot-spot testing oversample.

“We are oversampling a very small part of the state that has a very high infection rate,” Cuomo said. “That oversample when added to the statewide number is a skewed number.”

The hot-spot ZIP codes represent about 20% of the state’s new virus cases, or 2.8% of the state’s population of about 19.5 million people.

“We are now attacking the virus within 2.8% of the population,” Cuomo said. “That’s because we have so much testing data, we can get that specific and when you see it growing anywhere, then blow the whistle and send all the firefighters to put out those embers.”

COVID-19 infections throughout the rest of New York’s 10 regions remains low, with a 0.7% positive rate in the Capital Region, 0.3% positive in the North Country, 0.5% in the Mohawk Valley and 0.8% in the Finger Lakes on Friday. Infection rates remained at 0.9% positive in Central New York and on Long Island.

Western New York held steady Friday at 1.3% positive after a surge of clusters tied to factory workers

The Mid-Hudson Region, which includes Rockland and Orange counties, was at 2.1% positive Friday, down slightly from 2.2% Thursday. New York City remained flat at 1.2% new infections, but has an overall skewed positivity rate because of the dense population.

Six New Yorkers died from the virus Thursday, down from 10 on Wednesday.

Twenty-five more coronavirus patients entered state hospitals for a total of 779 hospitalized Friday. The number of hospitalizations has sharply increased from about 500 patients over the last two weeks as virus hot-spots persist.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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