Coronavirus Live Updates: Spot safety checks at New York City schools, PPE hotline

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
NYC schools to have spot safety checks, PPE hotline
NJ Burkett has the latest on plans to reopen New York City public schools for the new academic year

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that Department of Education officials, including Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, will do unannounced spot inspections to make sure everything is safe for teachers and students before and after the first day of classes.

The mayor also announced a new Department of Education hotline where principals can call to expedite delivery of PPE and cleaning supplies.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 outbreak in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, does not appear to be a cluster situation, de Blasio said, even though 5,200 people have tested from the neighborhood since July 29.

"We do see individual households with specific problems, and those households are being engaged intensely to make sure that they quarantine, that they safely separate," he said.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announces that the COVID-19 outbreak in Sunset Park, Brooklyn does not appear to be a cluster situation.

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What's Open, What's Closed in the Tri-State area

Here are more of today's headlines:

Looking for a staycation? NYC offers many options

This summer has been like no other, and for those who don't want to travel, there are some intriguing staycation options.

'Miracle' COVID patient goes home after 111 days

A "miracle" COVID-19 patient who cheated death multiple times went home Monday after 111 days at Long Island hospitals to an ovation from doctors, nurses and staff members. Tito Velasquez, 36, of Valley Stream, had no underlying health conditions when he arrived at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream Hospital in critical condition back on April 28. Doctors said his oxygen saturation, which is 99% in a normal patient, was at just 11%. He was immediately placed on a ventilator and later tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

NY Aquarium, indoor exhibits at zoos reopening

The New York Aquarium is reopening on August 27 and indoor exhibits at the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, and Prospect Park Zoo are opening up as well.

UNC-Chapel Hill moving to remote learning

UNC-Chapel Hill undergraduate classes will shift to entirely online after multiple COVID-19 clusters reported, officials announced Monday. Due to this announcement as well as the reduction of campus activities, the university expects the majority of its current undergraduate residential students to change their residential plans for the fall.

See a list of reopening plans for Tri-State colleges and universities.

Victoria Gardens at Wollman Rink to remain closed

Victoria Gardens at Wollman Rink in Central Park announced that it will remain closed until at least 2021 and may cease operations entirely and released the following statement:

"Following the initial directives that amusement parks would be allowed to open in New York State during Phase 4 of the New York Forward plan, Victorian Gardens was prepared to open safely and responsibly with newly implemented COVID-19 protocols. Regretfully, since Victorian Gardens' normal operating season is coming to a close and New York State has not provided a re-opening plan for amusement parks, we are not able to open this season. This year has been an incredibly difficult one for communities all over New York City with the health risks resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the socio-economic fallout from related governmental executive orders. While Vicky and Victor and our entire Victorian Gardens team miss seeing everyone smiling, giggling, and having fun in our amusement park, our number one priority is the health and safety of our community, guests, and team members."

Museum of Modern Art announces reopening date

The Museum of Modern Art will reopen to the public on August 27, 2020, with new hours for the first month, through September 27: from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday to the public; and from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. on Mondays for MoMA members only. Admission will be free to all visitors Tuesday through Sunday, through September 27, made possible by MoMA's long-standing partner, UNIQLO. MoMA is dedicated to providing a safe environment for all with new safety protocols that follow CDC, New York State, and New York City guidelines. The Museum's Flagship Store on 53rd Street and the MoMA Design Stores in Midtown and Soho are also open.

Fall high school sports in New Jersey

Gov. Phil Murphy announced that NJSIAA will make the final determination on fall high school sports, but whether a student-athlete is participating in remote-learning or in-person instruction, their ability to play will not change. For every school that gives their team the go-ahead, the student athletes will be able to participate either way. Some districts have already given notice that their teams will not be playing, for schools that do play: Murphy says they don't want any student athlete to be shut out based on whether or not they're physically in their school building. A decision is expected to be made by the end of the week.

NY Infection rate remains low

Gov. Cuomo said that New York's COVID-19 infection rate remained below 1% for the 10th straight day. The rate of positive tests, 0.71 percent, is the state's lowest since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. The average infection rate has been 1 percent or lower since June.

New York announces guidelines on gyms

Governor Andrew Cuomo said gyms can reopen statewide starting August 24 at 33% capacity with mandatory masks and HVAC ventilations systems in place, and local government must complete inspections and have final say on indoor workout classes. In other states, gym chains have had to limit capacity and close off some of the equipment. Also Monday, bowling alleys were allowed to reopen at 50% capacity with every other lane closed. Face coverings are required.

Newark schools opt for an all-remote start

Newark public schools will remain all-remote until the end of the 1st marking period in November, the head of the teacher's union said. The NBOE Reopening Task Force will reassess at that time, he said.

Newark public schools will remain all-remote until the end of the 1st marking period in November, the head of the teacher's union said.

Iona College welcomes students back to classrooms for in-person learning

Iona College welcomed students back to in-person classes Monday after a week of remote learning. The private Catholic college in New Rochelle was one of the first to close its doors and send students home when the coronavirus pandemic began, and now -- five months later -- it is one of the first colleges to put students back in the classroom, albeit in hybrid form.

South Korea warns of new outbreak tied to church

A conservative South Korean pastor who has been a bitter critic of the country's president has tested positive for the coronavirus, health authorities said Monday, two days after he participated in an anti-government protest in Seoul that drew thousands. More than 300 virus cases have been linked to the Rev. Jun Kwang-hun's huge church in northern Seoul, which has emerged as a major cluster of infections amid growing fears of a massive outbreak in the greater capital region.

south korea coronavirus
n this on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020, photo, protesters stage an anti-government rally in Seoul, South Korea.
Ahn Young-joon

Officials are concerned that the virus's spread could worsen after thousands of demonstrators, including Jun and members of his Sarang Jeil Church, marched in downtown Seoul on Saturday despite pleas from officials to stay home.

Tulsa sees surge in teachers seeking to file wills

A rising number of teachers in Tulsa, Oklahoma, are seeking to file wills amid the coronavirus pandemic and fears of returning to the classroom, according to a report from ABC affiliate KTUL.

Arizona school district cancels classes due to staff absences

A school district in Arizona was forced to cancel Monday classes after more than 100 staff members called out. The J. O. Combs Unified School District in Arizona's Pinal County was set to resume in-person classes but notified parents in a letter dated Friday that "we have received a high volume of staff absences for Monday citing health and safety concerns."

Columbia University: All undergraduate courses will be virtual

All undergraduate courses at Columbia University in the fall will be virtual, the school's President Lee Bollinger announced Friday. Additionally, about 40% of all graduate courses will be hybrid or in-person. "Though six weeks ago we thought that we could safely house 60 percent of Columbia College and Engineering undergraduates in our residence halls, today we have concluded that we must drastically scale back the number of students we can accommodate in residence on campus, thereby limiting residential-style living only to Columbia College and SEAS undergraduates who must be present on campus due to personal or academic circumstances. Housing arrangements for School of General Studies undergraduates will remain unchanged. We will continue to evaluate undergraduate housing options for the spring term," Bollinger said. As colleges and universities gear up to resume classes, many schools are taking different routes whether it's an all-virtual, hybrid or full reopen approach.

Fake face mask ID cards

The Department of Justice says an increasing number of people in California are going to great lengths to avoid wearing a face covering in public places. They say fake IDs that claim the person has a medical reason not to wear a mask are turning up big time.

The Department of Justice says an increasing number of people in California are going to great lengths to avoid wearing a face covering in public places.

There are legitimate exemptions such as having a disability where a mask could cause problems, but the Justice Department says more and more businesses are being shown fraudulent identification cards as an excuse. The Department of Justice has even released a warning to be on alert for "fraudulent face mask IDs," noting their use has been on the rise.


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