May 1 (UPI) -- Schools in New York will remain closed for the rest of the 2019-20 academic school year despite declining coronavirus numbers in the state, Gov. Andew Cuomo said in his briefing Friday.
Cuomo, who ordered schools to close six weeks ago, said performing the long list of health safety measures necessary to reopen campuses for the rest the 2020 academic year isn't feasible. The closures have affected 4.2 million elementary, primary and college students in New York.
"We must protect our children," the governor said. "Every parent, every citizen feels that. We have to protect our educators, and given the circumstances that we're in ... we don't think it would be possible to keep our children and educators safe."
A decision about the fate of summer schools, he said, will be made by the end of this month.
Cuomo reported nearly 4,700 new COVID-19 cases and 289 deaths, the first time the state's daily toll has fallen below 300 in weeks.
Earlier Friday, New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said there have been 2,600 additional cases and 202 deaths -- showing that the crisis is "still alive and well" in his city.
"That is a huge number," he said. "If I said these numbers to you three, four months ago, that would have been staggering."
The mayor said New York City will allow pedestrians and bicyclists back onto the streets as the weather warms, as way to enhance social distancing measures. The first seven miles worth of streets will be reopened on Monday and more will follow for the rest of May.
New York state and New York City have been the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States. Nationally, there have been 1.07 million coronavirus cases and almost 64,000 deaths to date, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Also Friday, Daniel O'Day, CEO of U.S. biotech firm Gilead Sciences, said the company is working closely with the Food and Drug Administration to gain quick approval to use the drug remdesivir to treat COVID-19 patients.
O'Day added that Gilead aims to make millions of treatments available by the end of the year.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said remdesivir studies showed "a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery."
A new study Thursday said it's likely the outbreak will endure for another 18 to 24 months, based on past pandemics. The models varied depending on whether the new patterns arrive in steep curves, gentler waves or a low-level "slow burn" pattern.
In Jacksonville, Fla., on Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said parks statewide will reopen Monday.
"Sunlight kills the virus quickly," he said, adding that open outdoor spaces are "a very low-risk environment" if they include "appropriate social distancing."
In Georgia, officials said testing in the state has increased to nearly 165,000 on Friday as shelter-in-place restrictions affecting travel and businesses were allowed to expire.
"I encourage all Georgians to continue to maintain social distancing, limit their travel and use best practices," Gov. Brian Kemp said.