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Politics

Cuomo Asks Airlines to Test Passengers Coming From UK

December 21, 2020

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that he has asked airlines flying into the state from the United Kingdom to make all passengers take a COVID-19 test before they get on the plane.

The Democrat said at least one airline, British Airways, had already agreed to comply. He is awaiting an answer from others, including Delta and Virgin Atlantic, but was hopeful they would also agree.

Cuomo has been calling on the U.S. government to temporarily halt all flights from the U.K. because of the emergence there of a new strain of the coronavirus.

Numerous nations have already taken that step out of concern that the newly identified strain might be more easily transmitted.

"I think the United States should do what other countries have done, which is halt the travel," Cuomo said, adding that too much was still unknown about whether the mutated virus would pose more of a threat. "I was on the phone with top experts all weekend. We don't know if it's more deadly. We don't know how much more easily it's transmitted."

Cuomo added that he believed he had the legal authority as governor to ask airlines to test passengers in the absence of federal action.

NYC SCHOOLS

New York City's public school system will conduct special social, emotional and academic behavioral screenings next year for students in 27 neighborhood hard hit by coronavirus, officials said.

Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said the screenings, beginning in September, will allow educators to get a jump start on treating mental health issues related to the virus or the disruption of schooling that might linger into adulthood.

The city is hiring 150 additional social workers for the effort and will expand a partnership between schools and the city's public hospital system.

Carranza said he'd like to bring such services to all city schools, but can't currently afford it without outside funding.

Mayor Bill de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, heads up the city's mental health initiatives. She described the new screenings as an important extension of a child's annual pediatric exam.

"Even in the best of times, this is a best practice," McCray said. "Now, after COVID-19, it is more critical than ever."

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