COVID-19 Update – Police Break Up Block Party of 200, Columbia & Greene Still Face Surge Potential

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 29.

NEW YORK STATE
299,691 cases confirmed (4,585 new)
872,481 tests performed (27,487 new)
18,015 deaths (377 new)
65,397 hospitalizations (overall)
12,159 hospitalizations (current)
Confirmed cases per 10,000 residents: 154
New York State coronavirus page
New York State official pressroom
Hotline: (888) 364-3065

New York’s COVID-19 maternity task force, hastily convened last week, has already issued a report. It recommends all pregnant women be tested for the virus, and that the state move quickly to establish dedicated birthing centers run by licensed healthcare facilities, among other recommendations. The full report is available on the state’s website. In an op-ed in USA Today this week, public health expert Rahul Gupta argued that coronavirus in pregnancy is poorly understood, and Congress needs to act to ensure that all pregnant people have access to insurance and health care.

Remdesivir, an antiviral drug that has had mixed results so far in COVID-19 clinical trials, got a prominent boost Wednesday from the NIH’s Anthony Fauci, who said that the drug has a “clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery.” Trials are still ongoing at multiple hospitals.

Today’s in-depth must-read comes from The Atlantic, which has been a good source of deep dives on the pandemic. Science writer Ed Yong tackles the question of “Why the Coronavirus Is So Confusing,” and breaks down the most persistent sources of uncertainty around the pandemic. More intriguingly, Yong gets into what makes society incredibly vulnerable to disruption by a virus like this one.

Not mentioned in Yong’s story, but an emerging weird property of COVID-19: It’s giving people rashes on their toes. The Washington Post took a look on Wednesday at why younger COVID-19 patients are showing up in hospital rooms with feet that look like they’ve been frostbitten in April, and writes about why odd symptoms like this one might be a clue to how the virus causes disease.

Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang is suing the New York State Board of Elections over their decision to effectively cancel the state’s Democratic presidential primary on June 23.

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio took aim at the city’s Orthodox Jewish community on Twitter Tuesday night, denouncing the funeral of a rabbi that was dispersed by the NYPD. The mayor tweeted: “My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period.” The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council fired back, noting that the mayor had nothing to say about widespread social-distancing failures among people watching the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds fly over New York in support of healthcare workers.

The Forward, a Jewish online publication, ran an editorial Wednesday decrying the depiction of Orthodox communities as spreaders of contagion, while other communities where funerals and other gatherings have sparked outbreaks have been treated with compassion.

The New York State Department of Health, under fire in the press for letting asymptomatic COVID-19-positive nurses and other staff continue working at a nursing home in upstate Steuben County, reversed course on Wednesday evening, and is now requiring staffers who test positive to take a two-week leave before returning.

Deaf New Yorkers are suing the state for not including a sign language interpreter in general broadcasts of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily briefings, the New York Daily News reports. The suit claims New York is the only state not to include sign language interpretation in their broadcasts. American Sign Language translations of the briefings are available on the state website, but they are not included in the live televised broadcasts.

Hudson Valley Congressional reps Antonio Delgado and Sean Patrick Maloney have teamed up with colleagues in several Northeastern states to introduce federal legislation that would give farmers who hold USDA loans a shot at one-time debt forgiveness of up to $250,000. The House bill is a companion bill to legislation sponsored in the Senate earlier this month by New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand.

Announced by New York State on Wednesday:

  • Elective surgeries have been suspended statewide since March 22. In 35 counties where the state has deemed there is not a significant risk of a near-term COVID-19 surge, those surgeries and other treatments will now be allowed to resume. The counties are: Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chenango, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Genesee, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Livingston, Madison, Monroe, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Orleans, Oswego, Putnam, Saratoga, Schoharie, Schuyler, St. Lawrence, Steuben, Sullivan, Tompkins, Ulster, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates.
  • Results are in from an antibody study of downstate first responders. The study found that 17.1 percent of FDNY firefighters and EMTs tested had antibodies to COVID-19, along with 10.5 percent of NYPD officers tested. Results from antibody testing of transit workers will be announced soon.
  • Cuomo has directed the MTA to issue a plan for disinfecting every train on the subway nightly.

ROCKLAND COUNTY
11,586 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page

County executive Ed Day and the Rockland County Division of Environmental Resources announced that county parks will reopen on Friday, May 1. Parks will be open for walking only, and amenities and facilities such as restrooms, playgrounds, pavilions, picnic tables, lawn areas, park benches, fishing piers, and dog runs will remain closed. Day cited declining hospital rates for the reopenings, though the county also recorded its 500th death on Wednesday. County officials said the parks will be monitored and the Sheriff’s Office would be alerted if social-distancing guidelines were not being followed.

WESTCHESTER COUNTY
28,626 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page
County press release page

CareMount Medical is now offering antibody testing without an appointment at its clinics, while Westchester Medical Center is gearing up to offer the service, though appointments will be required. Visit CaremountMedical.com for more information.

The results of a survey issued to Westchester businesses suggest owners are highly anxious about their survival and frustrated with the process of applying for financial assistance, according to responses by over 700 businesses. Fifty-eight percent of respondents said that they will lose between 75 and 100 percent of their revenue as a result of the pandemic. However, 56 percent said they had not let anyone go as of the date of the survey.

ORANGE COUNTY
8,488 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page
Orange County Department of Health: (845) 291-2330

The Times Herald-Record talked to a few despondent Orange County business owners who have been waiting since March to hear word on federal loans that might help them weather the pandemic. “These companies are having a terrible time of it,” said Nancy Proyect of the Orange County Industrial Development Agency, who has been helping local businesses apply.

In more cheerful Times Herald-Record news, a horse visited the New Windsor Country Inn nursing home to cheer up residents, and the paper got some amazing photos.

DUTCHESS COUNTY
2,881 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page
Dutchess County COVID-19 hotline: (845) 486-3555
Dutchess County 24/7 mental health helpline: (845) 485-9700

County executive Marc Molinaro announced that the county is looking to test everyone in its 13 nursing homes for COVID-19. As the pilot gets underway, and as tests are made available from New York State, Dutchess County’s Nursing Home Task Force will collaborate with each of the facility’s infection control specialists to plan accommodate specific needs, including providing adequate PPE supplies for staff.

The Red Hook Board of Education put next year’s budget on hold over various uncertainties concerning the coronavirus, including whether school would resume at all in the fall. Chief among concerns was the cut in state aid, which Governor Cuomo suggested could be up to 20 percent without federal intervention. School boards across the state have postponed budget votes because of uncertainty over state aid.

Police dispersed a crowd of more than 200 people in Poughkeepsie on Tuesday evening for violating social-distancing guidelines, according to Poughkeepsie police captain Steven Minard. Several people rode across lawns on motorcycles, “taunting officers,” he said. Reinforcements from other police agencies were called in, but no arrests were made. Police had dispersed a smaller crowd from the same area less than two hours earlier.

PUTNAM COUNTY
946 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page

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

SULLIVAN COUNTY
811 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page

Legislature chairman Robert Doherty announced that legislature vice chair Mike Brooks, county manager Josh Potosek, and Public Health director Nancy McGraw will be joined by Catskill Regional Medical Center CEO Jonathan Schiller for a Facebook Live Q&A session Thursday, April 30, at 1pm.

ULSTER COUNTY
1,252 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page
Community resources page
Ulster County COVID-19 hotline: (845) 443-8888

There have been four additional coronavirus-related deaths at the Ten Broeck Commons nursing home, county executive Pat Ryan’s office said Wednesday. The first coronavirus-related death at the nursing home was announced Monday. The county also announced two other deaths.

The county will offer buyouts to some employees to address a potential $34 million revenue shortfall after the county legislature approved the measure Tuesday. The county would pay up to a quarter of health insurance premiums for union workers and 10 percent for management employees who take the buyout. Employees must be eligible for retirement by the end of the year to qualify.

County District Attorney David Clegg announced the creation of a Special Crimes Unit to address COVID-19 related crimes on Wednesday. “We believe there is a growing need to combat the fraudsters and scammers that take advantage of the fears and vulnerabilities created by the pandemic,” said Clegg.

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

Stipends are being offered to City of Hudson artists for projects that speak to life in the community during the pandemic. The stipends, which will be granted in amounts of $500, $1,000, or $2,000, are being administered by the Hudson Development Corporation in a program developed in part by regional cultural critic Seth Rogovy. The program is modeled after the Works Progress Administration, a New Deal agency that employed artists of all mediums during the Great Depression. Writers, musicians, filmmakers, photographers and other artists interested should go to ReimagineHudson.com.

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

Delaware County Emergency Services received a supply of cloth face masks, which it will distribute to towns to give to the general public, according to a post on the Delaware County Government Facebook page. Mask giveaways were announced in Bovina, Davenport, Delhi, Hancock, and Meredith, Franklin, Colchester, Walton, Middletown, Andes, Kortright, Hamden, Roxbury, and Tompkins. On Wednesday, Sidney announced giveaways.

SUNY Delhi is hosting a “Dairy Drive Through” on Thursday, April 30 from 3pm until products are gone. The event will be held rain or shine. One bag of free donated dairy products will be distributed to Delaware County residents in need on a first-come, first-served basis. Enter SUNY Delhi through the main entrance and you will be directed to where you need to go.

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

Greene County was one of 17 counties in the state exempted from Governor Cuomo’s executive order Wednesday permitting hospitals to resume elective surgeries. The 35 eligible counties are included because they do not present a “significant risk of COVID-19 surge in the near term,” according to the Governor’s Office. Greene has one of the lowest infection rates in the Hudson Valley; counties like Ulster and Dutchess, with more cases per capita, were allowed to resume elective surgeries, suggesting that the decision about which counties to include in the executive order was not solely based on infection rate.

Nearly 100 vehicles convoyed to three nursing homes Tuesday to show appreciation for medical personnel and deliver them lunch. The convoy was spearheaded by the Second Baptist Church of Catskill, but included EMTs, local business owners, and police officers. The convoy stopped at Greene Meadows Nursing, the Eliot, and the Pines at Catskill Center. Seventeen residents at the Pines have tested positive for COVID-19, but none experienced symptoms, according to the Register Star.

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

Schoharie County Public Health sounded an alarmed note in its regular case count update on Wednesday. “Consistently following social-distancing rules and consistently wearing masks when in public will decrease the number of cases and allow us to move forward on reopening businesses and resuming normal activities. Thank you if you are already doing this! If you aren’t, please note that we have 9 new cases this week and it is only Wednesday. Our number of cases per week seems to be INCREASING, not decreasing. Please do your part,” wrote director Amy Gildemeister in a Facebook post.

SUNY Cobleskill, in cooperation with the Schoharie County Farm Bureau, local farms, and the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, and with help from community volunteers, will host a “Dairy and Pantry Drive Through” on Friday, May 1, from 10am until noon. The event is open to all community members to receive dairy, frozen, and pantry foods.

OF INTEREST?

The River and The Other Hudson Valley are 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.

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.

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