Thursday Night COVID-19 Update – Virus’ Peak Moves into Lower Hudson Valley

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. The following is from Thursday night, April 9.

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.

NEW YORK STATE
159,937 cases confirmed (10,621 new)
391,549 tests performed (26,396 new)
7,067 deaths (799 new)
32,869 hospitalizations (overall)
18,279 hospitalizations (current)
4,925 ICU admissions (current)
Confirmed cases per 10,000 residents: 82
New York State coronavirus page
New York State official pressroom
Hotline: (888) 364-3065

The nation got a glimpse of what’s keeping Governor Andrew Cuomo up at night—and unlike his brother, Chris Cuomo, the governor’s nightmares don’t involve family members dancing around in ballet outfits. In Thursday’s press briefing, Cuomo talked about the different epidemiological models the state is using to make policy decisions, and why some of them are especially scary. There’s the IHME model from the University of Washington (a model we’ve discussed in our daily news roundups), which predicts a peak of 73,000 hospitalizations and then a rapid dropoff. There are models from McKinsey, which predict a range of between 55,000 and 110,000 hospitalized. And then there’s a model from Columbia, which predicts 136,000 hospitalized in New York City alone. “The Columbia University model we can never—that would just be a nightmare. That’s the one that keeps me up at night, because you couldn’t get anywhere near that projection,” Cuomo said.

Using a few different models, each making slightly different assumptions about how fast the outbreak will spread and how much of an impact social distancing will have, New York State has been taking an attitude of “hope for the best, prepare for the worst,” Cuomo said. With recent efforts to increase hospital capacity statewide, the state now has 90,000 hospital beds, and may still be able to add more by converting dormitories or other facilities. Currently, there are 18,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, and Cuomo believes New York hospitals can handle the outbreak if the numbers keep following current trends. But if social distancing is relaxed, he said, we risk scenarios like the Columbia University model that the state will not be able to keep pace with. “The flattening of the curve last night happened because of what we did yesterday and the day before and the day before that. This is all a direct consequence to our actions,” Cuomo said. “If we stop acting the way we’re acting, you will see those numbers go up.”

Nearly 350,000 New Yorkers filed for unemployment last week, and an aide to Governor Cuomo said 810,000 claims had been received since March 6, though a quarter of those haven’t been fully processed. This doesn’t take into consideration those who haven’t been able to file because of the overwhelmed state unemployment phone system and website. The state is launching a new online application Thursday night to try to streamline the process. It has fewer questions, and if a filer leaves sections blank, they will be called back within 72 hours, instead of having to wait on hold.

Golf courses are officially nonessential businesses in New York State. Glad that’s cleared up. The document giving state guidance on which businesses are considered essential continues to get longer; you can read the whole thing in glorious detail on the Empire State Development website.

Announced by New York State on Thursday:

  • Five new drive-through and walk-in testing sites will open downstate this week and next, primarily in minority communities. The sites are in Brooklyn, Queens, and the South Bronx.
  • The state is launching an effort, “New York Loves,” to coordinate all charities, foundations, nonprofits, and other organizations that want to help New York respond to the outbreak.
  • Cuomo is asking all New Yorkers who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate blood to help with treatment of the virus. Some local hospital groups, including Nuvance Health, have issued the same request. More information about how to donate is available at the New York Blood Center’s website.
  • Cuomo also announced that he will issue an executive order bringing outside funeral directors to New York to help process the high number of deaths.

Below: A graph showing the number of cases per 10,000 residents in each county, drawn from New York State’s data. 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.

ROCKLAND COUNTY
6,665 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page

Watch out, Hudson Valley: The peak is moving outward from the original epicenter. Numbers are moving in the right direction in New York City, but in the suburbs, the outbreak is picking up pace. “Look at the concentric circles around New York City, the natural spread, the natural concentric circles, are toward the suburban communities: Westchester, Rockland, Nassau, Suffolk,” Governor Cuomo said. A couple of days ago, Rockland County surged past Westchester in the rate of confirmed cases per capita. More than two percent of Rockland County residents have tested positive.

The county released COVID-19 hospitalization numbers for the first time on Thursday. They show that 468 people are currently hospitalized with either confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19. Fewer than half of those (207) are confirmed COVID-19 cases; another 261 are suspected to have the virus but either have been unable to get tested or have not yet received results. Eighteen people with positive COVID-19 cases were reported to have died since yesterday.

WESTCHESTER COUNTY
17,004 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page
County press release page

Thirty-three people imprisoned at the Westchester County Jail have tested positive for COVID-19. They are being medically quarantined, according to the County Corrections Department.

Greenburgh town supervisor Paul Feiner said he was “inclined” to force supermarkets to take the temperatures of customers and employees with non-contact thermometers before they enter, starting next Wednesday. Those with temperatures over 100.4 would not be allowed in. The plan, which would take effect if signed as part of next week’s executive order, would join a slew of county regulations imposed on businesses this week, including limiting the number of customers at one time and providing customers with gloves and hand sanitizer before they enter. The plan would have to be approved by the state.

Forty-four more deaths were reported in the county since yesterday, bringing COVID-19’s toll inthe county to 359. Thirty-two more people have been hospitalized.

The 16th annual Pleasantville Music Festival has been cancelled, executive director Bruce Figler announced Wednesday. Whether the coronavirus has subsided in the region by the festival’s planned July 11 date isn’t relevant, Figler said. “Come two months from now, are you going to feel comfortable standing out in a field with 5,000 strangers?” he asked. “I think the general public is a little traumatized here, and I think just expecting people to forget about all this stuff in a couple of months is probably not realistic.”

ORANGE COUNTY
4,090 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page
Orange County Department of Health: (845) 291-2330

The county-owned Valley View Center for Nursing Care and Rehabilitation reported multiple residents had died of COVID-19 in an emailed statement to the Times Herald-Record. The statement did not reveal anything about the residents, including when they passed away or how many had died. On April 3, the 360-bed nursing home in Goshen reported that eight residents and seven employees had tested positive, though these figures were not updated by Valley View when it announced the deaths.

Orange County dairy farmers, after a week of being forced to dump milk by a volatile market and disruptions in the supply chain, are selling to their local processor again. No word on what the future holds for local milk, the most perishable of products, but farmers are relieved.

DUTCHESS COUNTY
1,493 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page
Dutchess County COVID-19 hotline: (845) 486-3555
Dutchess County 24/7 mental health helpline: (845) 485-9700

City of Poughkeepsie police chief Tom Pape said two of his officers exhibited COVID-19 symptoms and are self-quarantining, but that the pandemic has had minimal impact on the daily functions of the department. Some changes have been implemented, like requiring everyone entering the police station to wear a face covering and separating civilian staff and officers as much as possible. Police chiefs for the Town of Poughkeepsie and Hyde Park said no one in their departments had been affected by the virus.

Dutchess County executive Marc Molinaro is encouraging residents to take part in the county’s COVID-19 History Survey, which documents their experiences during the pandemic and will better prepare leaders for the health crises of the future. The voluntary online survey allows residents to document their stories through a series of open-ended questions, and with the participant’s permission, the answers will be preserved in county archives and shared with the public to help inform and educate future generations.

Dutchess County realtors said they expect a boom in home sales after the coronavirus subsides and New York City residents look to get out, though this could be tempered if the economy fails to rebound. Though realtors are now considered essential employees, most were not showing houses because of COVID-19, and home sales in the county have been halved.

PUTNAM COUNTY
438 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page

The county legislature approved a request to transfer $221,144 in county funds to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) and disinfectants and to cleanse county facilities when they reopen. The PPE includes face masks, face shields, medical gloves, and gowns, all of which will be shared with fire companies, first responders, and highway departments in the county. County officials said they will apply for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and expect the federal agency to pay 75 percent of the cost.

SULLIVAN COUNTY
294 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page

There were no major updates out of Sullivan County today. To read yesterday’s news, click here.

ULSTER COUNTY
460 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page
Community resources page
Ulster County COVID-19 hotline: (845) 443-8888

County executive Pat Ryan announced during his Facebook town hall on Thursday that Ulster County has brought an additional 17 ventilators online, doubling its capacity. The news of additional ventilators comes Ryan warned that Ulster County was on pace to exhaust all available beds and ventilators by week’s end. During the town hall, Ryan also said that the county has completed the construction of 55 new bed spaces at the Kate Walton Field House. On Tuesday, Ryan outlined his plan to add beds at the Field House on the Kingston High School campus, along with starting work at TechCity to increase capacity. “In just 72 hours, we have added bed capacity and doubled the number of ventilators at the time we know we will need it the most,” said Ryan.

Several town leaders expressed anxiety about summer camps and bungalow communities being able to operate in their communities this summer. The county health department said April 1 that it would not issue permits for seasonal recreational facilities, but two days later the county reversed course over concerns it did not align with Governor Cuomo’s NYS on PAUSE executive order. A March 18 modification of New York’s State of Emergency required all local emergency orders to be approved by the state Department of Health. Camps would need to submit plans about how to follow social-distancing guidelines and other state mandates when seeking permits. Wawarsing town supervisor Terry Houk told the Shawangunk Journal it was safer for the county to issue no permits, since officials would have to make a call on something happening months in the future, and Rochester town supervisor Mike Baden said it was backwards to allow summer camps to operate while businesses could not.

The county legislature will decide at its meeting later this month whether to approve spending $137,500 to restore utilities to a building slated to become a temporary hospital. Plans to convert the building on the former IBM campus in the Town of Ulster were announced on Wednesday by county executive Pat Ryan, who said the hospital will be ready by the end of May. The county is planning on seeking reimbursement from FEMA.

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

The county announced a fifth death from COVID-19 today. Nine people confirmed to have the disease are hospitalized, with one of them in intensive care.

Hudson Mayor Kamal Johnson will hold a virtual town hall Friday at 2pm. It can be viewed on Facebook or YouTube.

DELAWARE COUNTY
37 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page
County alerts and announcements page
Bassett Healthcare Network hotline: (607) 547-5555

A second person has died of COVID-19 in Delaware County, Public Health Services announced Thursday.

Business owners are getting creative about survival in the new world order, but some sort of prize ought to go to Catskill Seasons, an outdoor and camping supply store in Margaretville. The store’s owner, Linda Ballard, has moved quickly to make it a useful hub for grocery pickup, essential social-distancing supplies like gloves and rubbing alcohol, and PPE reserved for firefighters, healthcare workers, and other first responders. Ballard has been posting regular videos on Facebook showcasing the store’s evolution to serving vital community needs. In a Monday video, she holds up handy products for self-protection one at a time: “Today, we have available for the public latex gloves, vinyl gloves, and antibacterial wet wipes. And if that doesn’t work for your social distancing, we have an extendable fly swatter—stay away!—or [holding a telescoping campfire roasting fork] you can poke ‘em in the butt.” Thanks, Linda.

GREENE COUNTY
28 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page
Columbia Memorial Health COVID-19 hotline: (518) 828-8249

The Village of Catskill Economic Development Corporation launched a site to help local businesses affected by the shutdown. The site acts as a one-stop shop for purchasing gift cards to businesses—both open and temporarily closed—giving them income during the restrictions. The site can be found on WelcometoCatskill.com.

SCHOHARIE COUNTY
12 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page
Bassett triage line: (607) 547-5555

Breaking news: Schoharie County now has an email address where people can send questions about the outbreak. No official word on who’s reading it and answering, but feel free to give it a try: covid-19@co.schoharie.ny.us.

OF INTEREST?

With nearly all local courts closed, how are Hudson Valley residents navigating the legal system? The River’s Arvind Dilawar visited the Dutchess Family Court, in Poughkeepsie, where all emergency cases in the county have been directed: regarding orders of protection, violent crime, neglect, abuse, child protection, and arraignments. Published Wednesday, it’s our latest feature looking at how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting daily life in the region.

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