Hudson Valley COVID-19 Update: Sunday Night 3/22

La Voz, a Spanish-language magazine covering Hispanic news and culture in the Hudson Valley, is translating these roundups and co-publishing them on its website. Read here. You can also listen to daily audio updates from “La Voz con Mariel Fiori” on Radio Kingston.

La Voz, una revista de cultura y noticias del Valle de Hudson en español, está traduciendo estos resúmenes y co-publicandolos en su página web. Leyendo aqui. También puede escuchar actualizaciones diarias por audio en el show “La Voz con Mariel Fiori” en Radio Kingston. 

The River is also collaborating with WGXC to announce these updates over the air. To listen, tune in to 90.7 FM at midnight, 5am, 7am, or 9am, or visit the audio archive online.

RESOURCES

We’ve moved our list of resources to a page on our website, which will be updated regularly. The list is not comprehensive, but if you know anything you’d like us to add, please email us.—Phillip Pantuso

NEW YORK STATE

15,168 cases confirmed (4,821 new)

61,401 tests performed
114 deaths

New York State official pressroom

Hotline: (888) 364-3065

New York City and its suburbs now account for about five percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases globally. “Community spread of the highly contagious virus now appears commonplace,” The New York Times reports. Roughly half of the confirmed cases in the US are now in New York State, although widespread lack of access to testing makes it difficult to know the true extent of the outbreak, and New York has been among the most aggressive states in ramping up testing.

The state’s coronavirus information page has been growing in scope: It now contains a wealth of information for individuals, businesses, and local authorities on everything from advice for pregnant people to how to disinfect a bus. Those who have questions the state website can’t answer are encouraged to call the state coronavirus hotline at (888) 364-3065.

An important item on the state coronavirus page was published on Friday, March 20: Procedures for obtaining state approval for local emergency orders. “No local emergency order shall be effective, valid, or with legal effect without compliance with the procedures set forth herein,” the document states. There is now a dedicated email address for local officials to send proposed executive orders, and their plans for enforcing them, to the state Department of Health.

Capital region reporter Joe Mahoney broke the news today that film producer Harvey Weinstein, currently serving a 23-year sentence for rape and sexual assault at maximum-security Wende Correctional Facility near Buffalo, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Mahoney spoke to Michael Powers, president of the state correctional officers’ union, who said that three state corrections officers also tested positive, and many more are being monitored. “The corrections officers being monitored include 58 NYSCOPBA members in the Hudson Valley, including 28 assigned to the maximum security Green Haven Correctional Facility,” Powers said.

On Sunday evening, Senate Democrats blocked the $1.8 trillion economic stimulus plan, saying it did not provide adequate protection for workers nor sufficient restrictions on the businesses that would receive bailout money. Democrats took special issue with a provision of the plan that would give the Federal Reserve access to $425 billion for loans to struggling companies, without restrictions on which businesses could receive it or how it could be used. President Donald Trump would also not commit to not accepting federal funds for businesses he owns. The situation is developing, and as of Sunday night, Senators on both sides of the aisle were working behind the scenes to strike a deal.

In today’s daily coronavirus briefing, Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke of the outbreak as a challenge that would define a generation. “We overcome challenges and this is a period of challenge for this generation. And that’s what has always made America great and that’s what’s going to make this generation great. I believe that to the bottom of my soul. We will overcome this and America will be the greater for it. And my hope is that New York is going to lead the way forward and together we will.”

Renters across New York State are still in the dark as to what sort of relief will be available to them. In the briefing, Cuomo said that the state “took care of the rent issue,” but it’s not clear how. Evictions have been suspended statewide, and the state has directed mortgage lenders to allow homeowners to postpone payments, but there is no policy currently in place to suspend rent payments or otherwise provide relief to renters, reports real estate news outlet The Real Deal.

Announced today by New York State:

-The Army Corps of Engineers is ready to begin construction on temporary hospitals at SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Westbury, Westchester County Center, and Jacob K. Javits Center.

-In addition to the Army Corps of Engineers facility at the Javits Center, FEMA will also set up four temporary hospitals there, each with 250 beds, fully equipped and staffed by the federal government.

-The state is continuing to identify sites to repurpose existing healthcare facilities to be used as temporary hospitals. On Saturday, the state leased the Brooklyn Health Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare to serve as a temporary hospital with capacity for up to 600 beds.

-Cuomo called on the federal government to immediately implement the Defense Production Act and nationalize the contracting and acquisition of medical supplies. The current market for supplies like masks and gowns is causing price gouging and forcing states to compete against each other, Cuomo said.

-Cuomo also called on the Food and Drug Administration to start approving tests for coronavirus antibodies, which would allow people to be tested to find out if they had been sick with COVID-19 and recovered. Current tests for coronavirus infection only detect whether an individual is currently sick, not whether they have recovered and are now immune to the virus. People who have been sick with the virus and have recovered might play vital roles on the front lines of healthcare and other risky occupations.

-The state Department of Health will issue an emergency order directing all hospitals to increase bed capacity by 50 percent, with a goal of 100 percent increase.

-All elective, non-critical surgeries in the state must be cancelled, effective Wednesday, March 25. Cuomo estimated that canceling elective surgeries would buy hospitals around the state an extra 25 to 35 percent more beds. “I understand the hospitals are not happy about it. I heard that elective surgery is a big source of revenue for the hospitals. I understand that, but this is not about money,” Cuomo said.

-Cuomo is directing New York City to come up with an immediate plan for social distancing in public parks, where there is a “significant problem” with people not staying six feet apart from each other.

A general note on New York State data: These numbers are changing very, very rapidly. Print newspapers are out of date by the time they hit newsstands. In our own reporting, we are relying on the state’s daily counts, but those are frequently updated or contradicted by reports from local officials within hours. If our numbers in this news roundup don’t add up, it may be because local confirmed case counts have not yet been included in state numbers, or because a case that was reported to local public health authorities is officially being included in the count for another county.

WESTCHESTER COUNTY

1,873 cases confirmed (486 new)

County coronavirus page

The county’s Department of Social Services released safety measures on Sunday to eliminate in-person contact whenever possible. The county’s Bee-Line bus system will also shift to rear-door boarding and exiting starting Monday, in an effort to protect drivers.

ROCKLAND COUNTY
455 cases confirmed (193 new)

County coronavirus page

With testing becoming more widespread, Rockland County confirmed an additional 193 cases today, according to the state Department of Health numbers. There were no other major updates out of the county today. To read yesterday’s news, click here.

ORANGE COUNTY
247 cases confirmed (84 new)

County coronavirus page
Orange County Department of Health: (845) 291-2330

The Orange County Distillery is now making hand sanitizer out of locally-grown Black Dirt grain, the Times Herald-Record reports.

DUTCHESS COUNTY
82 cases confirmed (33 new)

County coronavirus page
Dutchess County COVID-19 hotline: (845) 486-3555

Dutchess County 24/7 mental health helpline: (845) 485-9700

The county Department of Behavioral and Community Health today confirmed its first death from COVID-19: a 69-year-old male who passed on Friday. The man developed respiratory symptoms and went directly to Mid-Hudson Regional Hospital. “This is a stark reminder of the challenge and toll we all face as we come together to respond to this emergency,” county executive Marc Molinaro said in a statement.

Nuvance Health, in cooperation with Dutchess and Ulster counties, will open two COVID-19 drive-through collection sites on Monday, March 23, according to a press release. The Dutchess County site will be at the Intermodal Center at Dutchess Stadium on Route 9D in Fishkill.

Dutchess County is also reducing its public transit service in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Starting Tuesday, March 24, only Routes E, J, K, and L will be operating, with service provided from 7am to 4pm Monday through Friday. Dial-A-Ride and Flex service will be suspended until further notice. Fixed route fares will be a reduced rate of 75 cents per ride, while same-day, on-demand service will be $1 one way.

PUTNAM COUNTY
37 cases confirmed (15 new)

County coronavirus page

The county posted an update to its website confirming 39 total cases as of 4pm on Sunday, with cases in every town. “While this is not the news people want to hear, it is not surprising and we have been preparing for this eventuality,” health commissioner Dr. Michael J. Nesheiwat wrote. “With more testing we will find more residents who test positive for this contagious disease.”

ULSTER COUNTY
26 cases confirmed (8 new)

County coronavirus page
Ulster County COVID-19 hotline: (845) 443-8888

Nuvance Health, in cooperation with Dutchess and Ulster counties, will open two COVID-19 drive-through collection sites on Monday, March 23, according to a press release. The Ulster County site will be at TechCity at 300 Enterprise Drive in Kingston. The Daily Freeman reports that another site in Ellenville is expected to open later in the week.

The Daily Freeman also talked to emergency medical providers throughout the county about their urgent need for personal protective equipment for a story that was published on Saturday. In short, they’re worried about shortages.

SULLIVAN COUNTY
16 cases confirmed (4 new)

County coronavirus page

According to a news release posted Sunday on the county’s coronavirus info page, there are now 17 confirmed cases in the county. The release states that “unnecessary travel is banned as of 8pm,” but this is misleading. There is no general travel ban or road closure in the state, and any travel bans that might be enacted in future would need to come from New York State, not local governments. Under New York’s 10-point PAUSE policy, in effect 8pm Sunday, all New Yorkers are being advised to keep a six-foot distance from others in public and refrain from unnecessary use of public transportation, and all non-essential gatherings of any kind are cancelled, but there are no penalties for individuals for traveling or being on the roads.

COLUMBIA COUNTY
5 cases confirmed (3 new)
County coronavirus page
Columbia Memorial Health COVID-19 hotline: (518) 828-8249

The county has created a new coronavirus info page on the Columbia County Department of Health website.

DELAWARE COUNTY
3 cases confirmed (2 new)

County coronavirus page
County alerts and announcements page
Bassett Healthcare Network hotline: (607) 547-5555

On Sunday, the county posted a release about the state’s 10-point PAUSE policy for individuals and businesses, which is now in effect statewide as of 8pm Sunday night. The release notes that no travel bans are currently in place, and that any travel bans or general road closures would have to be put in place by the New York State government.

GREENE COUNTY
2 cases (0 new)

County coronavirus page
Columbia Memorial Health COVID-19 hotline: (518) 828-8249

Greene County posted a news release to the county website on Sunday stating that there are five confirmed cases in the county, in the towns of Windham and Hunter, and an additional 14 people self-monitoring for possible exposure. The county’s news release included statewide and worldwide case numbers from Friday that are now two days out of date.

SCHOHARIE COUNTY
1 cases confirmed (0 new)

County coronavirus page

Bassett triage line: (607) 547-5555

The Town of Conesville, whose supervisor Bill Federice is the chair of the county Board of Supervisors, issued a message dated Saturday, March 21, to “residents, visitors, and second homeowners.” In the message, the town implored visitors and residents alike to limit travel, saying that “the number of exposures will increase with movement within and into the area from other parts of the state and country,” and noting that Schoharie County is a rural area where most businesses are closed and services are under severe strain. The town also urged people in the county not to call Schoharie County Public Health Services, but to direct all questions about testing or coronavirus information to their own health providers or to call New York State’s coronavirus hotline at (888) 364-3065.

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