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CUNY, SUNY to reduce in-person classes amid virus concerns

March 11, 2020 GMT
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A laboratory technician prepares COVID-19 patient samples for semi-automatic testing at Northwell Health Labs, Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Lake Success, N.Y. The US Food and Drug Administration has approved faster testing protocols as the viral outbreak continues to spread worldwide. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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A laboratory technician prepares COVID-19 patient samples for semi-automatic testing at Northwell Health Labs, Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Lake Success, N.Y. The US Food and Drug Administration has approved faster testing protocols as the viral outbreak continues to spread worldwide. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York state had 216 confirmed coronavirus cases Wednesday, a jump of 43 from the day before, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

More than half the total cases — 121 — are in Westchester County, where the suburban community of New Rochelle has endured a fast-growing COVID-19 cluster. Cuomo on Tuesday declared a 1-mile radius “containment area” in the community.

Concerns about the virus have also led the state and city university systems to make plans to maximize distance learning and reduce in-person classes starting March 19, following the lead of colleges around the country. New York City has also raised the possibility that it will scrap its St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

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A look at the effects of the outbreak:

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NUMBERS

In addition to the 121 cases in Westchester, New York City had 52 cases as of Wednesday; there were also cases in Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, Saratoga and Ulster counties.

Thirty-two people are hospitalized, and the rest are recovering at home or have recovered, Cuomo said.

In an effort to get more people tested for the virus faster, Cuomo said New York will contract with 28 private labs in the state.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.

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ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE

Cuomo said health experts are recommending that New York City’s venerable St. Patrick’s Day parade be canceled amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The governor told a news conference at the state Capitol that officials would likely make a decision later Wednesday. The parade, scheduled for Tuesday, would draw thousands to Manhattan at a time when officials are trying to reduce large gatherings.

“If you listen to the experts, they would say you should not be having a St. Patrick’s Day convening at this time, which I believe makes sense,” the governor said.

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STATE COLLEGES GO REMOTE

State University of New York and the City University of New York campuses “will release students to the best of their ability” next Thursday, Cuomo said. Distance learning and other options will be developed by campuses. If programs must be done on site, like labs, there will be an exception, he said.

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SUNY has about 416,000 students on 64 campuses, while CUNY serves about 275,000 students per year, according to their websites.

“With more than 100,000 SUNY students currently taking one or more of their courses online with us, we believe we are prepared and well-positioned to take advantage of remote instruction to further our student’s education during this crisis,” SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson said in a prepared statement.

CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said moving to distance learning will protect students. He said the system’s 25 campuses — including dorms, libraries, and research facilities — will remain open.

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BROADWAY THEATERS

A part-time usher at two Broadway theaters tested positive for COVID-19, but the shows at those theaters were continuing with performances, the theater organizations said.

The Shubert Organization, which runs the Booth Theater and the Nederlander Organization, which runs the Brooks Atkinson Theater, said they were notified Tuesday evening that the employee had the coronavirus.

The employee, who is under quarantine, had most recently worked as an usher at Booth from March 3rd to March 7th, and as a line-manager outside Brooks Atkinson on February 25th and March 1st, the organizations said.

A deep cleaning had been completed at Booth and was scheduled for Wednesday into Thursday overnight at Brooks Atkinson, they said.

“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” is running at Booth, and “SIX” at Brooks Atkinson.

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WORK SHIFT

Cuomo said he has asked business leaders, mostly in New York City, to stagger their employees’ work shifts or let them work from home to reduce potential coronavirus exposure. The strategy of staggering work hours to reduce rush-hour crowding was widely used during the 1918 influenza epidemic.

Also, the governor said New York will provide two weeks of paid leave for state workers required to quarantine as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

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Associated Press writers Mary Esch contributed from Albany and Karen Matthews from New York. The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.