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Gov. Cuomo extends school closures to April 15; State’s construction edict changes again

All schools across New York State will remain closed through at least April 15 in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced at his Friday media briefing.

The governor, who had initially ordered schools closed from March 16 through March 30, did not rule out another extension as mid-April nears, saying the state will reassess the school closures again in the coming days.

The 180-day waiver has been extended, meaning kids will not be required to attend 180 days of school this year.

“I don’t do this joyfully,” Gov. Cuomo said.

Shelter Island School voluntarily closed prior to the mandatory closing, which was first announced by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on March 15.

School districts are instead using distance learning techniques with students connecting with their teachers online.

• The announcement comes on a day when the governor reported the number of deaths has eclipsed 500 statewide and confirmed cases of the coronavirus is now at 44,635. More than 6,400 individuals are hospitalized across New York with 1,583 in intensive care units.

“We’re seeing a significant increase in deaths now,” the governor said.”It’s bad news. It’s tragic news. It’s the worst news. But it is not unexpected news.”

The number of confirmed cases in Suffolk County is now at 3,385, according to information released by the State Department of Health. There have been at least 22 deaths in Suffolk, county officials said Thursday.

Mr. Cuomo also announced plans to add 4,000 new hospital beds across New York City — 1,000 in each of the four outer boroughs. 

The new announcement brings the state to about 123,000 proposed hospital beds out of a projected 140,000 that will be needed when the number of hospitalized patients reaches its estimated apex in three weeks.

• The New York State Empire Development Corporation on Friday also amended its guidelines for what is an essential business during this time, making changes that will affect the building industry. The measure deems most construction to be non-essential across New York, the latest proactive step to increase social distancing that will surely impact the economy.

“Essential construction may continue and includes roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing, and homeless shelters,” the announcement states.

Non-essential construction must cease by Friday, April 3, and remain shut down until April 21.

Fines for non-compliance can be as high as $10,000, the state said.