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 Tuesday, June 2.
NEW YORK STATE
371,711 cases confirmed (941 new)
2,113,777 tests performed (49,952 new)
23,959 deaths (54 new)
89,703 hospitalizations (overall)
3,331 hospitalizations (current)
999 ICU admissions
New York State coronavirus page
New York State official pressroom
Hotline: (888) 364-3065
Across New York State and the nation, protests sparked by George Floyd’s death at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department, and widespread police crackdowns on the protests, seized the news spotlight from the coronavirus pandemic over the weekend. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has been relentlessly visible throughout the COVID-19 crisis, was oddly silent on Saturday night as protests raged in cities all over the state, even while mayhem and violence erupted mere blocks from the Governor’s mansion in Albany. In Sunday’s briefing, Cuomo gave a quick update on pandemic numbers and policy before shifting gears to a longer discussion of violence, racism, and police reform.
Phase Two of economic reopening got off to a rocky start on Friday in five of New York’s 10 economic development regions. Local officials and businesses in the Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley, Finger Lakes, North Country, and Central New York had been expecting Phase One to start Friday morning, in accordance with state communication about the phased reopening. On Thursday afternoon, Cuomo apparently reversed course, saying in a WAMC radio interview that he was giving the data from the two-week Phase One period to experts for review, angering local officials who were caught flat-footed after telling businesses to prepare for a Friday opening. Early on Friday afternoon, Cuomo gave the green light to all five regions to enter Phase Two, setting off a flurry of hastily corrected county press releases.
State legislators convened last week, meeting both physically and virtually, to pass a suite of COVID-19-related legislation, including an extension of the lawsuit window for the Child Victims Act, a repeal of an 1845 law banning mask-wearing in public, and an expansion of price gouging law.
Announced by New York State on Monday and over the weekend:
- In Monday’s briefing, Cuomo announced that New York State had reached the lowest rate of test results coming back positive since the pandemic began, a metric that reflects both falling case counts and the expansion of testing access.
- New York City will enter Phase One on June 8. The state is adding another 10 testing sites in hotspots near low-income and minority communities that have been heavily impacted by the pandemic.
- Western New York will enter Phase Two on Tuesday, June 2, and the Capital Region on Wednesday, June 3.
- Phase Two business guidance was posted on the state website on Friday, with the rollout of Phase Two in five upstate regions. Among the burning questions answered by the new information: Hairdressers and barbers can now practice in Phase Two regions, but they must get tested for COVID-19 at least once every 14 days.
- Over the course of the pandemic, New York State has rolled out several new online tools and dashboards for public access to state coronavirus data. The latest, an “early monitoring dashboard” that went live on Friday, offers a more detailed look at historical data for each region on the metrics New York State is monitoring for phased reopening.
- Dentists statewide can practice again as of Monday, June 1. The Department of Health has posted interim guidance for dentists on the state website.
- On Saturday, Cuomo signed a law passed by the state legislature that provides death benefits to the families of public workers who died of COVID-19.
Rate of active cases per 10,000 residents, drawn from the latest county data. Active case data unavailable for Rockland and Orange counties.
LOWER HUDSON VALLEY
Westchester County executive George Latimer, who has been giving video updates on the pandemic and local case counts almost daily, switched focus in Monday’s address to the killing of George Floyd and the protests, announcing a working group of county officials, local police officers, activists, advocates, and clergy to review policing procedures and look for opportunities for reform. Latimer minced no words in his speech: “George Floyd was murdered,” he said. “If you want to understand what happened in that moment, place your fist underneath your chin, along your neckline. Take your other hand and press it alongside your face. Imagine it’s rough asphalt pavement. The slight pressure of your fist shows you how much pain could be created by an athletic man placing his full weight through his boot, onto your neck. You would gasp for air. You might call out your mother’s name in agony. And against that asphalt payment you would die.”
The union representing conductors and engineers on Metro-North trains wrote a letter to Metro-North president Catherine Rinaldi Friday urging the commuter rail service to return to a full schedule so riders could socially distance. Ridership was down more than 90 percent at the pandemic’s peak, and the Metro Transit Authority cut service, but more people are taking the trains as the state begins to reopen. Some trains were added last week, but not enough, according to the union. A Metro-North spokesperson suggested the letter was prompted by union members’ overtime being cut during the pandemic.
Eleven deaths were added to Rockland County’s COVID-19 dashboard this afternoon, but they don’t indicate a sudden spike, according to Dr. Laura Carbone, the county’s chief medical examiner. Rather, the deaths took place between 1-2 months ago, but were just recently reported to the Rockland County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Cold Spring residents are getting more involved in village government, and the catalyst is the people thronging the streets who aren’t wearing masks. More than 30 residents attended a virtual village board conference on May 21 in which a handful of measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 as the village reopens were discussed. The Highlands Current has the details.
The Putnam County Office for Senior Resources will distribute washable cotton face coverings to senior citizens this Friday, June 5, and Monday, June 8, from noon to 2pm, at four locations: Carmel Friendship Center, Koehler Senior Center, Putnam Valley Senior Center, and Friendship Center in Philipstown.
The Highlands Current held a 45-minute interview with Dutchess County executive Marc Molinaro about the county’s reopening and other pandemic topics. He told the paper the downward trend of COVID-19 cases in the region may slacken, which would necessitate going through the reopening phases more slowly, but he did not foresee a spike that would force a reversal. Molinaro called the regional control rooms “a bit of a farce,” and said they were more of a monitoring committee, and one that sometimes did not get forewarned about state decisions until after the fact.
The Dutchess County Human Rights Commission and the Poughkeepsie Healthy Black and Latinx Coalition are hosting a pair of virtual community wellness and mental health forums, one in English at 3:30pm on Tuesday, June 2, and one in Spanish at 3:30pm on Thursday, June 4.
Ulster County entered Phase Two of its financial stabilization plan Monday, cutting $10 million in operational costs to make up for the huge hit the county budget took from the coronavirus shutdowns. Phase Two includes leaving vacant positions unfilled, delaying capital projects, asking department heads to cut budgets 10 percent, and making some “relatively minor” reductions in contracts. It also leaves open the possibility of digging into the county’s $24 million fund balance, but county executive Pat Ryan said he was trying to avoid this. There have been no layoffs, though 35 employees so far have accepted buyouts. Phase Three, which includes streamlining services and sharing services with other municipalities, could be implemented without direct federal aid. Ryan said increasing property taxes was the county’s “last resort.”
The Ulster County Fair, scheduled for early August, has been canceled until next year. And over in Saugerties, the annual Fourth of July parade will have no marchers this year.
The Mohonk Mountain House announced it would begin having overnight guests again on Monday, June 15, while the Pine Ridge Dude Ranch in Kerhonkson said it would welcome guests back beginning Wednesday, July 1. According to the Daily Freeman, both resorts are taking reservations, though representatives said they would be operating at reduced capacity.
About 300 people attended a George Floyd rally in Hudson on Sunday afternoon, organized by Kamal Johnson, the first African-American mayor in the city’s nearly 240-year history. Photographs from the rally showed nearly everyone wearing facemasks. Activists, as well as two local police chiefs, spoke at the rally, and Johnson urged nonviolence and for everyone to be inside by 8:30pm. Though Johnson did not impose a curfew like Albany and dozens of other cities around the US, there was no unrest or property damage reported.
Hudson Brewing Company had its liquor license suspended and was cited for several violations under New York State on PAUSE after undercover State Liquor Authority agents found 27 people being served drinks and hanging out inside and outside the small brewery. The brewery had previously been warned by Hudson mayor Johnson and Hudson’s police chief.
Newburgh tattoo parlor owner Rob Minuta reopened his shop on Broadway Saturday morning in open defiance of New York State shutdown policy, drawing a rally of more than 100 supporters that included Stewart Rhodes, founder of the right-wing anti-government Oath Keepers. Rhodes told a Times Herald-Record reporter that he was first in line to get a tattoo from Minuta at Casa di Dolore.
The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit seeking the release of medically vulnerable inmates from the Sullivan County Jail, listing Sullivan County sheriff Michael Schiff and the New York State acting commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services and Community Supervision as defendants, the Times Herald-Record reports. The jail has become a hotspot of infection; the paper reports that as of Saturday, 33 of the jail’s 72 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19, and inmates named in the suit describe unsanitary conditions, no ability to wear masks or follow social distancing, and indifferent medical staff. “The dorm is a big death box,” said one inmate being held on parole violation, who has contracted COVID-19.
The town of Thompson has decided not to open their YMCA children’s day camp for the summer. “Every day we are learning new things about the COVID-19 virus and how it affects children and our community,” supervisor William Rieber, Jr. wrote in a Facebook post.
Sullivan County will hold a Facebook Live town hall at 1pm on Thursday, June 4, featuring county Commissioner of Jurors George Cooke, who will speak about the local court system. Residents can email questions for Cooke and other county officials to email@example.com by 7am on Thursday. The county is also urging residents to fill out an online survey about their childcare needs.
The Cairo-Durham Central School District announced in a Facebook post on Friday that a company it and other school districts are working with to mail absentee ballots to voters is dealing with supply shortages, and ballots have been delayed. The ballots will be delivered to voters this week, school officials said. School board and budget elections will be held by mail on Tuesday, June 9, and all ballots must be received back by the district on the day of the election in order to be counted.
Schoharie County has the lowest case rate in the 11-county Catskills and Hudson Valley region we are tracking, both per capita and by raw numbers, and in recent weeks, few new cases have turned up in the county. But on May 29, New York State reported a new positive test in the county. The Schoharie County Department of Health, which stopped making local COVID-19 case updates available on the county website in early May and is now only posting them on Facebook, has not posted a new update since May 20.
Cumulative cases per 10,000 residents in each county, drawn from New York State’s data of cases found the previous day.
The River has a guide on where, how, and when to get tested for the coronavirus in the Hudson Valley and Catskills. We also have a regularly updated list of resources on our website. To read more of our daily news roundups, visit our coronavirus page.
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.