Hudson Valley COVID-19 Update: Thursday Night, March 26

The normally crowded Malden Service Area off the New York State Thruway Thursday.

This is a roundup of coronavirus news and announcements from New York State and Hudson Valley and Catskills counties co-produced with The River Newsroom. This is from Thursday night, March 26.

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

37,258 cases confirmed (6,477 new)

122,104 tests performed (18,625 new)

385 deaths (100 new)

5,327 hospitalized (or 6,844, according to the COVID Tracking Project)

1,290 ICU admissions

New York State coronavirus page

New York State official pressroom

Hotline: (888) 364-3065

The US surpassed China and Italy for total cases on Thursday, becoming the country with the most confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world. Vox notes that this may not necessarily mean the US has the worst outbreak; insufficient testing, which has been a huge problem in the US, is also a problem in other countries. Graeme Wood of The Atlantic looked at Iran’s numbers in early March, and concluded that there may be 2 million or more uncounted cases in the country.

The pandemic is driving record unemployment claims in the US. Data released by the Department of Labor showed that 3.3 million Americans filed initial unemployment claims last week, crushing the previous record of 695,000 set in 1982 (the department began tracking claims in 1967). Jobless claims last week rose 1,064 percent above the previous week. The US unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in February, a half-century low, but labor economist Martha Gimbel told The Washington Post that has likely risen already to 5.5 percent.

New York also had a record number of first-time unemployment claims. More than 80,000 New Yorkers filed, up from just 14,727 the week before. Just under 55,000 people filed in the worst week of the Great Recession. The crush tied up phone lines at the state Department of Labor and repeatedly crashed the website, suggesting the true number of newly employed may be higher.

Doctors and nurses in New York City and elsewhere say people are dying without being tested, leading to an undercounting of cases. “Two of the hardest-hit areas in the nation—New York City and Los Angeles County—released guidance earlier this week encouraging doctors not to test patients unless they think the test will significantly change their course of treatment,” Buzzfeed reports.

At least one Hudson Valley county has failed to count a death due to COVID-19: The Other Hudson Valley reports that internationally known scholar and curator Maurice Berger, who died in his Craryville home in Columbia County on Monday, was never included in official statistics because he was never tested. In an obituary, the Baltimore Sun reported Wednesday that Berger died of complications from COVID-19.

Some hospitals in the US are considering universal Do Not Resuscitate orders for COVID-19 patients, the Washington Post reports.

In his daily coronavirus briefing, President Donald Trump said that the Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort will arrive at Pier 60 in Manhattan by Monday, three weeks earlier than expected. The ship has 1,000 hospital beds and 12 operating rooms.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued a release Thursday warning hikers to avoid busy trailheads, keep six-foot distances from other hikers, and stick close to home. More and more local parks and trails are closing: The Mohonk Preserve and private trails on land owned by the Gould family in Hardenburgh are now closed, and the Town of Hunter has asked visitors and residents to stay away from local trailheads and parks. Business shutdowns and widespread unemployment means more people are using outdoor spaces, and as trails and parks close due to overcrowding, the pressure increases on those still open.

After passing the Senate yesterday, the $2 trillion federal stimulus package moves to the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicts a bipartisan approval on Friday.

New York is one of just three states with no American Sign Language interpreter translating coronavirus briefings, the Democrat & Chronicle reports. Props to Dutchess County executive Marc Molinaro for being ahead of the state on that front.

New York University is allowing medical students who have met all their requirements to graduate early to start fighting the coronavirus pandemic, ABC 7 reports.

Announced by the state today:

-New York is scouting new locations for temporary hospitals, with the goal of having a 1,000-plus patient overflow facility in each borough of New York City as well as Westchester, Rockland, Nassau, and Suffolk counties.

-Large donations of money, personal protective equipment, hotel rooms for healthcare workers, and other tools for fighting the pandemic are being made to New York State by businesses, foundations, and wealthy individuals.

-The state still needs more equipment, especially ventilators. In Thursday’s daily briefing, Cuomo said: “We have approved the technology that allows one ventilator to serve two patients—what they call splitting, which is when you add a second set of tubes to a ventilator to do two patients. It’s not ideal, but we believe it’s workable.” Cuomo said that the average COVID-19 patient is on a ventilator for 11 to 21 days, far longer than the three or four days that is typical of ventilated patients with other issues.

-Cuomo has begun talking about shifting downstate patients to upstate hospitals to spread out the impact of the outbreak. “We’re working on a collaboration where we distribute the load between downstate hospitals and upstate hospitals. And we’re also working on increasing the capacity for upstate hospitals,” he said.

-With an expected revenue shortfall of about $10 to 15 billion, the pandemic is wreaking havoc on New York State’s budget, due April 1. The state is going to need to be flexible and trim spending throughout the year, Cuomo said. The Times Union has more.

-New York State is still calling on nurses, doctors, mental healthcare practitioners, and other skilled health professionals to volunteer, as well as manufacturers, technology professionals, and more. On the state website is a page calling for volunteers in a variety of fields.

We have begun calculating the number of cases per 10,000 residents in each county, rounded to the nearest whole number. County populations vary widely in this region, and we feel that reporting numbers proportionally is a better way to make comparisons between counties than using the number of confirmed cases. But it is important to note that we do not know how much difference between counties is being driven by insufficient testing. The reporting of cases is lagging far behind actual infections, and sick people who cannot get tested are not being reported.

A general note on New York State data: These numbers are changing rapidly. In our 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 don’t add up, it may be because local confirmed case counts have not yet been included in the state’s 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

5,944 cases confirmed (1,253 new)
Confirmed cases per 10,000 residents: 61

County coronavirus page

As of 3pm on March 26, Westchester County executive George Latimer announced 1,513 new positive cases, bringing the county total to 7,457.

Quote of the day goes to Latimer, even though he technically said it on Wednesday: “Mass death is bad for business.” The county shouldn’t rush back into business as usual, the county executive said in a public briefing.

The 23-day quarantine of 100 New Rochelle residents will continue after the Westchester County Board of Health voted against lifting it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state there are two ways to end a quarantine: waiting at least seven days since symptoms appear and being symptom-free for three days, or get negative test results. Many of those quarantined have been unable to get test kits due to the limited supply, and some have tested positive after being symptom-free for weeks. The board relied on the test criterion instead of the symptoms criterion because of unclear direction from the CDC, but it passed a non-binding resolution recommending the state adopt the latter.

The Mount Vernon city council is debating whether to extend the deadline for tax payments to the city, LoHud.com reports.

Two local Hudson Valley news outlets won $5,000 grants from Facebook and the Lenfest Institute to do coronavirus coverage: the Examiner in Westchester County, and Times Hudson Valley Media, which runs the Wallkill Valley Times, Mid Hudson Times, and Southern Ulster Times.

ROCKLAND COUNTY
1,197 cases confirmed (229 new)

Confirmed cases per 10,000 residents: 37

County coronavirus page

As of 8pm on March 26, Rockland County announced the countywide total of positive cases is now 1,340.

A synagogue and a private school were each fined $2,000 by the county for violating its emergency order suspending school classes. The school contested the fine, saying it had only been handing out school lunches and textbooks for distance learning, which is allowed by the state. The county Health Department had received 85 complaints about the two locations, according to the Office of County Executive Ed Day. However, Ramapo police chief Brad Weidel, who recently clashed with Day over the police response to an Orthodox Jewish wedding, said his officers had been to the school twice and found no violations.

ORANGE COUNTY
751 cases confirmed (113 new)

Confirmed cases per 10,000 residents: 20

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

Two people died of COVID-19 in the county today: a 71-year-old and a 90-year-old, both women, both of whom had health problems before contracting the virus. County officials said neither was from the Montgomery Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where the county’s first victim died yesterday.

A businessman donated 800 surgical masks to an ambulance squad he normally sells to. Focus Media president Josh Sommors said he was the son of a former EMT and that he hoped the donation would spur other businesses to donate goods and services.

At least four people were transported to hospital with COVID-19 from the Montgomery Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Wednesday, the same day a resident died from the disease, though some of them were transported back. State health inspectors were expected to visit the nursing home today.

DUTCHESS COUNTY
190 cases confirmed (37 new)

Confirmed cases per 10,000 residents: 6

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

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

A 176-room dormitory at Dutchess County Community College (DCCC) will be converted into a surge hospital for COVID-19 patients. Conklin Hall, which has 457 beds, is not meant for critical cases, according to the county. The move is an effort for Nuvance Health, which owns Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie and Northern Dutchess Hospital in Rhinebeck, to meet Governor Cuomo’s mandate that hospitals increase their bed count by 50 percent. Vassar and Marist colleges in Poughkeepsie may also be enlisted in the future if needed. In-person classes at DCCC have been shut down after the state mandated all public colleges move their classes online.

A 71-year-old man died Wednesday from COVID-19, the second death in Dutchess County. He was admitted to St. Luke’s Cornwall hospital in the City of Newburgh earlier that day and had not been on the county health department’s radar. The county issued a statement about his death.

PUTNAM COUNTY
94 cases confirmed (10 new)

Confirmed cases per 10,000 residents: 10

County coronavirus page

A release on the Putnam County website states: “As of 4pm on March 26, the Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) is confirming 16 new positive cases of COVID-19 in Putnam County residents, bringing the total to 109 cases.”

Putnam County residents can now call 2-1-1 for coronavirus information, a move designed to ease the burden on the 9-1-1 call center. The county is getting help with the new line from the United Way, Patch reports.

ULSTER COUNTY
78 cases confirmed (13 new)

Confirmed cases per 10,000 residents: 4

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

As of 6pm on March 26, Ulster County’s website reported the total number of positive cases to be 92.

Ulster County is promoting a “Shop Ulster Saturday,” announced by county executive Pat Ryan during a Thursday webinar with the local business community. The Daily Freeman reported on the initiative.

An alliance of nonprofits in the Kingston area that includes Rise Up Kingston, the YMCA, Family of Woodstock, and People’s Place has been coordinating emergency meal and grocery delivery to residents in Kingston and the Town of Ulster. Calling itself Project Resilience Kingston, the group is plugged into the countywide Project Resilience initiative, and as of this week, it’s getting assistance from City of Kingston staff, some of whom have been deployed to help package and deliver meals. Those interested in volunteering can sign up here.

Spotted by a reader: A sign posted at a local trailhead by the Gould family, descendants of Jay Gould, who own much of the rural Ulster County town of Hardenburgh and allow hikers to access the summits of Doubletop and Graham Mountain on their private property. The sign states that access to Gould property is closed until further notice, trespassers will be arrested, and any sign-ins at the trailhead after March 20 will be used to pursue trespassing charges.

SULLIVAN COUNTY

53 cases confirmed (14 new)

Confirmed cases per 10,000 residents: 7

County coronavirus page

Three of the county’s COVID-19 cases are hospitalized, according to a Facebook post by the Sullivan Catskills Times, which quoted a county spokesperson.

KFEST has been cancelled. The two-decade-old music festival, most recently held at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, had not released a date or lineup, but is typically held in June. This follows yesterday’s announcement that Mountain Jam—slated for the same venue—will not go forward this year due to the coronavirus.

COLUMBIA COUNTY

13 cases confirmed (1 new)

Confirmed cases per 10,000 residents: 2

County coronavirus page

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

A renowned art critic died Sunday of a suspected COVID-19 case in Craryville, but the county had not mentioned any deaths until confronted by The Other Hudson Valley. A county Health Department spokeswoman said it could not be proven the man died of COVID-19 because he was never tested due to the short supply of test kits. The spokeswoman also said the county’s Monday press release contained inaccurate information, and that there was continuing COVID-19 hospitalization in the county. Maurice Berger, 63, who also lived in New York CIty, is best known for his writings on race and gender in art. He is the first suspected death from COVID-19 in the county.

Columbia Memorial Health’s hospital in Hudson is on track to double its bed count, according to hospital officials—twice Governor Cuomo’s mandate. Additional beds have been rented. The county continues to be hamstrung by a lack of test kits, and testing at the hospital is now only reserved for medical personnel and first responders.

Hudson mayor Kamal Johnson warned businesses he said were price gouging residents to not take advantage of the pandemic. “People who take unfair advantage of consumers by charging grossly excessive prices for essential consumer goods and services in the midst of an emergency can and should be fined,” he wrote in a Facebook post. He did not name the businesses in the post, but directed denizens to file a complaint with the state Attorney General’s Office if they are being taken advantage of.

DELAWARE COUNTY

7 cases confirmed (2 new)

Confirmed cases per 10,000 residents: 2

County coronavirus page

County alerts and announcements page

Bassett Healthcare Network hotline: (607) 547-5555

Three people in the county are hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19, Delaware County Public Health Services announced Thursday. Two are recovering at home, and three have been transferred outside the county.

The Delaware County Board of Supervisors issued a statement Thursday evening declining to identify towns where confirmed cases are located. “It is understood that some of our neighboring counties have begun to publish public lists by town; however, Delaware County is opting not to share this information at this time,” the release stated. “The state discourages this type of information release, especially in small communities like Delaware County, because it can inadvertently identify a person that is sick. As a result, other communities that have released this information are now facing legal action from those people that were identified in this way.”

In an email sent to village residents, Fleischmanns mayor Fred Woller announced the closure of the Fleischmanns Village Park playground and sporting field. The annual Memorial Day street fair in the village, which had been scheduled for May 24, is cancelled.

GREENE COUNTY
5 cases (1 new)

Confirmed cases per 10,000 residents: 1

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

Greene County Transit will only do on-call pick-ups starting March 27. The system will accept all urgent and non-emergency medical appointments along regular service routes and days.

SCHOHARIE COUNTY
2 cases confirmed (0 new)

Confirmed cases per 10,000 residents: 1

County coronavirus page

Bassett triage line: (607) 547-5555

No major coronavirus updates were announced by Schoharie County on Thursday.

 

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