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There won’t be any sleepaway camps in New York State this summer because of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement released late Friday afternoon, New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said the decision was made using all the best “currently available science and data.”


Following is the entire statement issued from Zucker’s office.

Throughout this entire public health response, there isn’t a single decision we have not made based on data and science, rather than emotion. Using the best currently available science and data, I have reached a decision to prohibit overnight children’s camps from operating this season in New York State.

Unlike day camps, which are approved to open June 29, overnight camps are a difficult setting to manage social distancing and face covering and infection control practices.

Overnight camps have congregate settings and sleeping arrangements in close quarters that present too many risks. In such a setting, even a single positive case in a camper or staff member could create an untenable quarantine situation and overwhelm camp health personnel that may not be able to handle a serious infectious outbreak of this nature.

I have fond memories of summer sleepaway camp as a kid and I understand the role they play in childhood development and the disappointment this decision may bring to families across the state. But amid the worst public health crisis in a century, my number one priority is the health and safety of all New Yorkers.

And while infection rates are declining, we need to proceed with caution and take every step possible to avoid undoing all the progress New Yorkers have made in bending the curve and reopening the state safely and responsibly.

Jewish Children Protest in Williamsburg
“We just want a camp and if not a camp, just open our parks!” urged one Jewish boy in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn who spoke to NBC-4 TV News on Friday morning prior to the release of the statement.

Williamsburg is one of the neighborhoods that was identified as one of the COVID-19 “hot spots” in the city, with an infection rate almost double the city’s overall average, according to the report.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said the focus would be on more testing in the neighborhood, and more “awareness” about the virus.

Cuomo approved the reopening of statewide playgrounds on Thursday as well as pools — at the discretion of local government — inasmuch as there are few other options for the thousands of children who usually go to overnight camps each summer.

However, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio sent law enforcement to chase out Jewish mothers and children in Williamsburg from the parks Thursday, even though they obviously had nowhere else to go, other than their own hallways or sidewalks.

Meanwhile thousands of protesters continue to be allowed, if not actively encouraged to march through the streets of any the city’s neighborhoods, including those of Williamsburg, cheered on by City Hall.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.