COVID-19 prompts Cuomo to lift 180-day rule for schools, waiting period for jobless benefits

wwny COVID-19 prompts Cuomo to lift 180-day rule for schools, waiting period for jobless benefits

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - New York will be able to perform 6,000 COVID-19 tests per day beginning next week. Governor Andrew Cuomo said Friday that the state has been authorized to use 28 labs around New York to increase the number of tests for the virus.

During a news conference, the governor thanked President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for making this possible.

Cuomo said the state has performed a total of 3,206 tests to date.

“The more you test, the more positives you find, the more you can isolate, the more you can reduce the spread,” said Cuomo.

Meanwhile, New York now has the most COVID-19 cases in the nation. As of Friday afternoon, 421 people have have tested positive for the virus, 50 people are hospitalized and 18 of those patients are in intensive care, Cuomo said.

Washington state has 420 confirmed cases and 31 deaths. There have been no deaths in New York.

Cuomo also lifted the requirement for school districts to hold at least 180 days of classroom instruction. (Under the law, a school district's state aid is directly tied to having at least 180 days of classes.)

The governor said school districts are permitted to make their own decisions about closing as a precaution.

He said a decision to close schools should be weighed carefully because children would miss out on their education, many youngsters rely on meals at school, and it would place a burden on parents.

If a school has a student or employee who tests positive COVID-19, the school is required close for at least 24 hours so it can be disinfected, Cuomo said.

The governor also addressed the issue of workers being laid off in connection with the coronavirus.

He said he has waived the 7-day waiting period for qualifying for unemployment insurance. In other words, if you lose your job due to COVID-19-related reasons, you immediately qualify for unemployment benefits.

Cuomo also announced that utility companies are barred from turning off power to those affected by coronavirus-related layoffs or illness.

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