New York is one of three states on track to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, a group tracking the virus across the U.S. said Tuesday, and the state will use $65 million in federal coronavirus funding for child care providers to expand and comply with social distancing as nonessential employees return to work.
A study by Covid Act Now, a team of technologists, health experts and public policy leaders that have projected and tracked the virus in the U.S. since late March, announced Tuesday that New York is one of three states on track to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“New York went from one of the highest infection rates in the country to one of the lowest because we made decisions based on science — not politics,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said. “We’re seeing in other states what happens when you just reopen with no regard for metrics or data. It’s bad for public health and for the economy, and states that reopened in a rush are now seeing a boomerang.”
Covid Act Now’s team analyzes 50 states and more than 2,100 counties’ risk levels for a person to contract the novel coronavirus. The group named New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts as the only three U.S. states Tuesday on track to contain the virus, or prevent a second wave.
States and communities are evaluated based on COVID-19 infection and positive test rates, availability of hospital Intensive Care Unit beds and adequate contact tracing of those infected.
New York’s infection rate is 0.81, or on average, each New Yorker with COVID-19 is infecting 0.81 other people. Because the number is less than 1, the number of cases in the state continues to shrink, potentially weakening the virus. The state had an all-time low virus infection rate of 0.64 on May 9.
New York continues to conduct about 60,000 diagnostic COVID-19 tests daily — more than any other state or country per capita. The state reported 1 percent of Monday’s tests came back positive with 597 new cases. Massachusetts has the nation’s lowest COVID-19 infection rate at 0.75, but has an average positive test rate of 2.6 percent. New Jersey’s infection rate is 0.81 with a 1.6 percent daily positive test rate.
“We do this testing religiously, and we watch the rate and calibrate our reopening by that rate,” Gov. Cuomo said. “New York is finally coming back, and I can’t stress enough how important it is that we don’t blow this incredible progress now. To all New Yorkers: Wear a mask, get tested, socially distance, wash your hands and be smart.”
On Tuesday, the Hudson Valley region entered Phase III of the state’s four-phase gradual reopening plan for nonessential businesses. Long Island will start Phase III on Wednesday.
The governor also announced the New York Forward Child Care Expansion Incentive program Tuesday afternoon, which includes $20 million to assist childcare programs with expanded capacity to allow for proper social distancing, or maintaining at least 6 feet from others. Eligible materials or expenses include partitions, a short-term rental of space, etc.
The state will also award $45 million in Reopening and Expansion Incentive grants to eligible childcare facilities to fund half the cost to build a new classroom. The temporary funds will phase out over the second and third months as more parents return their children to childcare. Grants will be a maximum of $6,000.
“As we move further into the reopening and more parents go back to work, we’re also making sure child care programs across the state have the support they need to reopen safely,” Gov. Cuomo said. “By providing support for expanded classrooms that allow for more social distancing and other resources, we can help keep staff and children safe.”
Throughout the pandemic, 65 percent of child care programs licensed through the state Office of Children and Family Services remained open, with many serving families of essential workers. The $65 million is federal coronavirus funding the state received under the CARES Act.
The funding is available to childcare programs and facilities starting immediately, according to the governor’s office, to bring closed programs back to operation to serve families returning to the workplace.
To be eligible for the reopening funds, child care programs must have been closed as of June 15 and have a plan to reopen within two weeks of applying or are currently operating below their licensed capacity and want to expand. The grants will be pro-rated as programs reach capacity. Programs must submit a detailed plan for use of funds and must remain open at least through the end of the year, according to a statement Tuesday from the governor’s office.
The $20 million slated for Reopening and Restructuring Incentives range from $300 to $1,600 one-time grants and depend on the size of the program. Child care programs may apply to the state Office of Children and Family Services through July 15.
To schedule a free COVID-19 diagnostic test at one of 800-plus testing sites statewide, visit coronavirus.ny.gov.