New York will not allow summer sleep away camps this year amid concerns illnesses could spread, Health Commissioner Howard Zucker on Friday announced.
"Throughout this entire public health response, there isn’t a single decision we have not made based on data and science, rather than emotion," Zucker said in a statement. "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."
The move comes weeks after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced day camps would be allowed this year.
But Cuomo had acknowledged sleep away camps presented a different challeng for controlling the spread of COVID-19 and a new illnesses that has affected children.
"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," Zucker said. "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."
Schools have been closed since March in order to limit the spread of the virus as classes shifted to distance learning. It remains uncelar if school buidlings can open in September.
"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," Zucker said. "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."