Photo Credit: NBC / YouTube screengrab
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo at his daily coronavirus briefing

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and the officials who were present Sunday (May 17) at his daily COVID-19 coronavirus briefing told reporters in response to a question they are not yet willing to make a final decision on whether to allow children’s summer camps to go ahead this year — Jewish or otherwise.

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“With the new cases that are arising with children,” said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker,”we’re re-looking at those guidelines. Other states around who were also moving to open summer camps have also slowed down that process,” it was pointed out.

The “new cases arising with children” referred to by the official are cases of pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome, (PMIS), a new syndrome that has elements of both Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome, but which has come to be recognized as a separate disease.

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“This issue with this Kawasaki-like syndrome is, I think, very important,” the governor said. “We have about 120 cases now that we’re investigating in New York. (Ed.note: Five days ago there were 100 cases in New York.)

“People will say, ‘Oh, that’s only 120 children.’ I don’t believe it’s only 120 children,” Cuomo said. “I believe this is a syndrome that we are just discovering and Dr. Zucker has had a couple of conversations with health people across the country.

“Already, like 16 states (Ed.note: five days ago it was 11 states) are saying,’Oh yeah, we see that also.’ Five countries are saying, ‘We see that also.’ I think the numbers are going to be much, much higher, and we need to know that as a society,” he said.

“We were told children are not affected and we’ve been operating on that basis. And that’s one conversation with summer camps when you say children are not affected. If you now change your facts again and you say, ‘oh children may be affected, not with the traditional COVID respiratory illness but they may have this more serious inflammatory illness that could be a heart disease issue, that’s a different set of facts, right?

“So, respond to the facts. It’s especially tricky here because the facts change.”

The New York State Health Department last week issued a Health Advisory to warn local health departments, hospitals and other health officials about the new syndrome, which has already caused the death of three children in New York. The state health department is also investigating the effect of COVID-19 on children, the governor said at a briefing last week.

The total number of cases nationwide has reached more than 200 children, Zucker said, adding, “We need to make sure we don’t do anything to harm these children, and the numbers keep changing.”

Moreover, it may indeed affect plans for school in the fall, Cuomo acknowledged in response to a reporter’s question. It is impossible to know at the moment.

“Sometimes nobody knows,” he said. “Nobody knows about this virus. Nobody knows what the effect may be on children. I don’t believe it’s only 100 kids; I believe it’s only 100 kids until you look — and I think that number’s going to go up.”

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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 Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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