Indoor activity increases the risk of coronavirus transmission.
It’s the reason New York City residents are still sitting outdoors to enjoy a meal, though access to indoor dining is just a short drive away.
But the same logic isn’t applied across the board.
Schools and gyms have been given the green light to reopen in NYC under certain guidelines. But many don’t understand the discrepancies.
City Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi told NY1 it’s all a matter of prioritization.
While opening classroom doors to students and faculty comes not without risk, it is worth it for the city to figure out a way to do so safely because of its benefits, Chokshi explained on “Mornings On 1.”
“My starting point as a doctor is how important it is for the health of our children to be in school. And this is true because it contributes to their social development, their emotional development, of course their learning, the education itself,” he said.
“But also so many children and families rely upon schools for meals and social services, so all of these things make it worthy for us to try to reopen schools, as we are. And we have worked on the most rigorous standards for health and safety of anyone in the country. So that’s why we’re one of the few places, and certainly one of the only large school districts, that is in a position to reopen,” Chokshi continued.
Chokshi said the most important factor to reopening schools is community transmission, which NYC has kept at bay.
This is also the reason the health commissioner stands behind the reopening of gyms.
“We will always encourage New Yorkers to exercise and stay active,” he said.
The city is working to ensure residents can do so safely. Inspections of gyms are currently underway, with many happening virtually.
“It’s a video call between a gym operator and one of our inspectors where we go through the very vigorous standards that we’ve established to make sure that gyms are safe,” Chokshi said. He said virtual gym inspections were implemented to preserve the health of New Yorkers.
The virtual inspections check that gyms have appropriate supplies of face coverings, safety plans in place, measures to disinfect and markers for people to maintain their distance.
Chokshi was thrust into the role of health commissioner when his predecessor, Oxiris Barbot, resigned suddenly last month.
“I certainly feel the weight of responsibility but I have no shortage of motivation,” he said.