COVID-19 Update – NYC Adds 3,700 Uncounted Deaths, Rockland Wants State Parks Closed

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 for Wednesday, April 15.

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
202,208 cases confirmed (7,177 new)
499,143 tests performed (20,786 new)
10,834 deaths (778 new)
46,201 hospitalizations (overall)
18,697 hospitalizations (current)
5,225 ICU admissions
Confirmed cases per 10,000 residents: 104
New York State coronavirus page
New York State official pressroom
Hotline: (888) 364-3065

The official death count in New York State from COVID-19 has already soared past the rest of the nation. On Tuesday, it gained a new dimension: More than 3,700 cases in New York City that officials have deemed probable coronavirus deaths, but that have not been tested, were added to the city’s count. The city has been counting presumed deaths in addition to those who tested positive; on Tuesday, the de Blasio administration made those numbers public. New York State is not reporting probable COVID-19 deaths, at least not yet, but The New York Times reports that Connecticut, Ohio, and Delaware are.

President Donald Trump has been sounding a belligerent note with the nation’s governors, claiming in a tempestuous Monday briefing that the authority over when to reopen the economy rests with him. Governor Andrew Cuomo has pushed back on the president’s rhetoric, telling CNN that “we don’t have a king” in America. The governor has been walking a fine line managing the state’s stormy relationship with the federal government, alternating between challenge and flattery; in Tuesday’s briefing, Cuomo said, by way of a story about a lesson learned from a priest in Catholic school, “the President will have no fight with me.”

Also cited in Cuomo’s Tuesday briefing: Legendary New Yorker Alexander Hamilton. “The State governments possess inherent advantages, which will ever give them an influence and ascendancy over the National Government, and will forever preclude the possibility of federal encroachments. That their liberties, indeed, can be subverted by the federal head, is repugnant to every rule of political calculation,” Hamilton said at the New York ratifying convention in Poughkeepsie in June of 1788, and Cuomo repeated in April of 2020.

President Trump, who has come under mounting criticism for his administration’s response to the pandemic, announced on Tuesday that the US would halt its funding to the World Health Organization. Trump blamed the WHO for its “disastrous decision to oppose travel restrictions from China and other nations” and criticized the organization for praising China’s transparency on the coronavirus, though the President himself also praised China in a tweet on January 20.

The International Monetary Fund predicts the US economy will shrink by nearly six percent this year, and unemployment will reach 10.4 percent. That contraction of Gross Domestic Product would be far worse than the worst year of the Great Recession, when the national GDP shrunk by 2.8 percent. The IMF predictions also contradict hopes for a rapid “V-shaped” recovery; it states the economy will not have recovered by 2021, and unemployment will remain high.

The Washington Post obtained the plan to reopen the country that was put together by a team of government officials, led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The strategy lays out three phases: a “national communication campaign and community readiness assessment” until May 1, followed by a two-week period of ramping up production of tests, personal protective equipment, and emergency funds, and then staged reopenings depending on local conditions.

On Monday, the USDA released a rural resource guide to federal programs offering help to communities, businesses, and organizations impacted by the pandemic. In a press release, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue called the guide a “one-stop-shop of federal programs.” A recent study from the University of New Hampshire concluded that because of their graying populations, rural counties are likely to have higher death rates from COVID-19 than the nation as a whole, the Daily Yonder reports.

Announced by New York State today:

  • Deaths in the state due to COVID-19 were once again up: 778 were reported Tuesday, a return to the grim numbers seen over the weekend after a brief dip Monday. Deaths are a “lagging indicator,” meaning they are late to respond to change; social-distancing efforts taken now won’t impact the death toll for several weeks. In Tuesday’s briefing, Cuomo used epidemiology jargon, but also the language of grief: “The statisticians will say ‘number of lives lost’ is a lagging indicator, which is a nice scientific term, but it doesn’t mean it’s not just terrible, terrible, terrible news,” he said.
  • According to a tweet by Ryan Tarinelli, a reporter for the New York Law Journal, the state prison system is now releasing inmates who are 55 or older if they have 90 days or less remaining on their sentence, and if their crime was not a violent felony or sex offense. (Looks like Dean Skelos will have to stay in Otisville: the former state Senate majority leader, who has fallen ill after petitioning for release because of fears of coronavirus, has more than two years left on his sentence.)

ROCKLAND COUNTY
8,335 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page

In a testy letter, Rockland County executive Ed Day requested Governor Cuomo close all state parks within Rockland. Day also asked for the NYS Park Police to step up patrols of the parks in Rockland County to ensure compliance with the closures. Separately, Cuomo was sent letters requesting the closures by a group of Rockland legislators and supervisors in the county’s five towns. The Rockland County Division of Environmental Resources closed all county parks on April 7.

WESTCHESTER COUNTY
20,191 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page
County press release page

The number of active COVID-19 cases in the county dropped from Monday to Tuesday, according to county executive George Latimer. “I think there’s some understanding that the curve is flattening here,” Latimer said. Of the 596 people in the county confirmed to have died of the virus, 37 percent have been in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

ORANGE COUNTY
5,578 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page
Orange County Department of Health: (845) 291-2330

We’re officially living in the future: Veterinary telemedicine has arrived. The Times Herald-Record spoke with a couple of Orange County vets about how the pandemic is transforming nonhuman health care. “I’m proud to say we’ve had no civilians in the building in three weeks,” said Wallkill veterinarian Paul Johnson.

The American Chinese United Care Alliance, a group of Chinese and Chinese-American medical professionals, donated 10,000 N95 masks to the county Monday. Most of them will go to Orange County Regional Medical Center.

DUTCHESS COUNTY
1,934 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page
Dutchess County COVID-19 hotline: (845) 486-3555
Dutchess County 24/7 mental health helpline: (845) 485-9700

A group of Democratic legislators in Dutchess County are objecting to Republican legislative chair Gregg Pulver’s decision not to hold an April meeting, the Highlands Current reports. In a statement, the group calls on Republican county leadership to hold April’s meeting remotely and consider several proposed COVID-19-related resolutions.

PUTNAM COUNTY
558 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page

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

SULLIVAN COUNTY
415 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page

Legislature chairman Rob Doherty joined volunteers at the county’s first “Bags of Hope” grocery distribution at the Narrowsburg Inn on Tuesday. For two hours, 50 bags of groceries were given away to folks who had preregistered. In addition to handing out groceries, Doherty also gave a $1,100 personal check to organizer Ned Lang to help pay for the food. Bags of Hope will continue every Tuesday between 9 and 11am.

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

Ulster County executive Pat Ryan announced during a Facebook town hall on Tuesday that Ulster will help Dutchess, Columbia, and Greene counties by sending aid. “This virus does not respect our arbitrary county borders, and neither can our response,” Ryan said. “To protect the health and safety of our area, we must aid our neighbors whenever possible.” Ulster County has already provided hundreds of face shields, surgical gowns, and testing kits to these regions.

Though the county has received many complaints about social distancing violations and nonessential businesses operating, most of them have been unfounded. Sheriff Juan Figueroa said no arrests had been made and no civil summons issued since his office took over dealing with complaints filed with the state, and he mentioned several complaints that were unfounded upon investigation. Misdemeanor arrests could still be made in a “worst-case scenario,” Figueroa said, but residents were generally following guidelines.

There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 among inmates or employees at the Ulster County Jail, according to Sheriff Figueroa.

As if laying off four Daily Freeman staffers wasn’t enough, Alden Global Capital is forcing all staffers at the paper to take at least two weeks of furlough, according to the Kingston News Guild, which minced no words in a Facebook post. Calling Alden “greedy bastard hedge fund owners,” the Guild said that they had hammered out a “bullshit deal, but much better than the one the company proposed.”

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

Columbia County is recording what it spends on combating the virus so it can be reimbursed by FEMA, but the federal agency will only cover 75 percent of costs, and it would not cover budget shortfalls from the virus’ economic impact. The county has frozen unnecessary hires, asked all departments to cut 20 percent from their contractual budgets, and suspended large equipment purchases to brace for a precipitous drop in tax revenue.

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

The Delaware County Board of Supervisors reports that the county received two new positive case reports on Tuesday. “The continued increase in cases is evidence that the disease is in the community and it is widespread,” a release stated.

The Sidney Central School District in western Delaware County announced Saturday that a staff member at the school has tested positive for COVID-19. The staffer has not been on campus since April 2, according to a release posted on the school website.

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

Everything may be canceled, but Greene County towns have decided that it wouldn’t be spring without weird fiberglass public art. Catskill’s 14-year “Cat’n Around” exhibit will go on despite the pandemic, with painted cats contributed by local artists, and so will the bears in Cairo, the owls in Coxsackie, and the ducks in Greenville. There may be a few hiccups, organizer Karen Robinson told the Daily Mail. “We did get many cats in before this all happened, but for those we don’t have yet, we are having the artists take photos and send them in so we can proceed with the brochure and the website,” she said. “I think we all need some fun and happiness in our lives, and we know how much joy these cats bring.”

On Tuesday, the state’s official confirmed case count for Greene County saw a spike, a day after county officials reported that cases were dramatically on the rise because of improved access to testing.

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

The Middleburgh Telephone Company announced Friday that it is offering free drive-up WiFi access at seven locations throughout the county. A list of locations is posted on the company’s website.

OF INTEREST?

The River has a guide on where, how, and when to get tested for the coronavirus in each county in the Hudson Valley and Catskills. You can read it here.

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