As Concerns Over Coronavirus Grows, Several More Bronx Schools Close

Correction: We previously reported Kinnert Day School as having been closed as per a list reported by The New York Times, however, according to the head of school Rabbi Aaron Frank, the school is still open.

There is no other area of The Bronx and perhaps in New York City that is feeling the impact of the rapidly spreading coronovirus than Riverdale.

First SAR Academy closed last week a student’s father tested positive for COVID-19 (otherwise known as coronavirus).

This particular individual is now linked to over 50 cases of the virus in New York and lives in New Rochelle which is now under a 1 mile containment zone to help stop the spread of the virus as best as possible.

Horace Mann will be closed for the remainder of the week through March 31st, at least for now.

Now Horace Mann, Riverdale Country School, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, Manhattan College, College of Mount Saint Vincent are closed.

All students living on campus at both Manhattan College and College of Mount Saint Vincent have been ordered to move out of campus for the time being through Spring Break which begins next week for most of the schools.

Currently only Mount Saint Vincent had one student test positive for COVID-19, but all the schools are closing down out of an abundance of caution to help limit the spread of the virus in a race to “flatten the curve”, or help spread out the rate of infection as to not overwhelm our fragile healthcare system.

Other Bronx schools outside of Riverdale which have shutdown are Fordham University and Bronx Lighthouse Charter School in the South Bronx neighborhood of Foxhurst.

As testing increases and more and more people test positive for COVID-19, the rise of school closures is expected to rise and teaching moved to online/distance learning for the time being.

Several schools are already discussing the possibility of continuing teaching virtually well beyond March and into April or the foreseeable future depending on how the current pandemic plays out.

There are some folks calling this mass hysteria and saying that coronovirus is no more deadlier than the flu and even if that is the case, the point is that we need to not overwhelm our hospitals and intensive care units which can only handle so much.

What we do know at the moment is that people with underlying chronic medical issues like diabetes, heart or lung disease and older adults appear to be more susceptible than the general population when it comes to developing more serious complications from COVID-19.

What does that mean for the people of The Bronx who have some of the highest rates of asthma, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes in New York City and the nation?

Diana Hernández, a South Bronx resident and an assistant professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health had an op-ed published in the Daily News on Monday and writes:

First, for many working-class and poor people, social distancing is aspirational, at best, due to the realities of work, home life and transportation. Lower-wage workers may be more likely to be exposed to infected individuals by virtue of occupations in the service industry where encounters with the public are more common. In addition, they are more likely to be subject to wage versus salary employment, anemic sick-leave policies and unequal health-care access. Employees who benefit from more flexible work arrangements can take time off more easily without losing money and may also have access to superior healthcare facilities that are more capable of handling this emerging health threat.

Dense living conditions stemming from poverty and low wages may also increase the risk of exposure and transmission to others in doubled- and tripled-up households. Limited access to private vehicles also means greater reliance on public transit, including to seek medical care, and the corresponding risk of infection therein.

Lastly, health disparities make everything worse. Low-income and other marginalized groups are impacted by more sickness and less optimal outcomes across a spectrum of conditions and diseases. Under such circumstances, disadvantaged groups fare worse not because of the new exposure, per se, but because a compromised health status and suppressed immune function make it more difficult to ward off a new infection or survive its impact.

In the meantime, let’s do the best we can to protect ourselves and others.

Here are some tips via the Center for Disease Control’s website:

Take steps to protect yourself

Illustration: washing hands with soap and water

Clean your hands often

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Illustration: Woman quarantined to her home

Avoid close contact

Take steps to protect others

man in bed

Stay home if you’re sick

woman covering their mouth when coughing

Cover coughs and sneezes

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
man wearing a mask

Wear a facemask if you are sick

  • If you are sick:  You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room. Learn what to do if you are sick.
  • If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.
cleaning a counter

Clean and disinfect

  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

To disinfect:
Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work. Use disinfectants appropriate for the surface.

Options include:

  • Diluting your household bleach.
    To make a bleach solution, mix:
    • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water
    • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
    Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
  • Alcohol solutions.
    Ensure solution has at least 70% alcohol.
  • Other common EPA-registered household disinfectants.
    Products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens pdf icon[7 pages]external icon claims are expected to be effective against COVID-19 based on data for harder to kill viruses. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, etc.).

Complete disinfection guidance

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