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Coronavirus Hudson Valley News: Friday, March 13

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This is a roundup of news and announcements from New York State and Hudson Valley counties published on Friday, March 13. Produced in collaboration with The Other Hudson Valley. 

Friday saw coronavirus news moving fast on both the federal and state levels. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced several new developments and 96 new confirmed cases, bringing the statewide total to 421. The first case in Schenectady County was announced.

Cuomo issued an executive order that lifts the requirement for public schools to teach a 180-day school year, waives a seven-day waiting period for workers to collect unemployment, and prevents utility companies from shutting off power to customers for not paying bills. The executive order extends the state’s emergency declaration put in place on March 7

Also announced in today’s briefing: The opening of the state’s first drive-through coronavirus testing facility, in New Rochelle. New York joins several other states that have instituted drive-through facilities, and more are in the works. Testing will be by appointment, and priority is being given to the high-risk population of New Rochelle. The phone number for reserving an appointment is 888-364-3065. The drive-through facility was expected to test 200 people today, and ramp up to 500 per day in the days to follow.

Cuomo’s daughter is keeping quarantine after possibly being exposed to the virus.

Efforts to get coronavirus information to non-English-speaking New Yorkers are lagging behind the breakneck pace of news, but on Friday, New York City Emergency Management added a Spanish option to their coronavirus text message service. For texts in English, text COVID to 692-692; for texts in Spanish, text COVIDESP to 692-692. Officials say other languages are in the works. A Spanish-language flyer with general coronavirus safety information is available on the website of the New York State Department of Health.

The Trump administration declared coronavirus a federal emergency today, freeing up more federal funding to cope with the situation and conferring increased authority on Health and Human Services. The move was greeted with some relief by Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer of New York, who, along with other Democrats, have been calling for the declaration for days.

covid-19, coronavirus, flatten the curveCredit: Siouxsie Wiles and Toby Morris

158 cases confirmed (10 new)

The big news in Westchester today was the opening of the drive-through testing center in New Rochelle, which has become the face of New York State’s outbreak. 

Yonkers has declared a state of emergency. As of Friday, the city had six confirmed cases. On Tuesday, a 69-year-old New Jersey horse trainer who worked at the Yonkers Raceway died after testing positive for coronavirus.

Yorktown’s town board has declared a state of emergency, a day after a resident tested positive.

9 cases confirmed (2 new)

Rockland County executive Ed Day and health commissioner Patricia Schnabel announced that visitors to Prince & Princess, a children’s clothing store in Monsey, from March 10 through 12, should self-quarantine because of a possible exposure to someone with coronavirus. Two of the county’s cases are in Clarkstown; another is in Ramapo, where six previously announced cases are located.

So far, village elections across the state are still on for next Wednesday, March 18. Rockland County GOP chair Lawrence Garvey is calling for them to be postponed.

5 cases confirmed (1 new)

Ulster County closed all its public schools starting next week for 14 days after the county’s fifth coronavirus case was found to have an indirect connection to a Kingston city school. The sickened individual and his immediate family are under mandatory quarantine. The county’s second case had been in close contact with a student and an employee of a Wallkill school, leading the school district to close.

Kingston declared a state of emergency, banning gatherings of more than 50 people and closing public access to its city offices. Offices will continue to function and the ban on significant gatherings does not apply to restaurants, clubs, bars, and retail stores. City employees’ travel will be restricted, and all conferences and workshops were cancelled.

Congressman Antonio Delgado’s office in Kingston closed, though phone calls and emails from constituents will continue to be answered and constituent services will continue. 

Late Thursday night, Esopus town supervisor Shannon Harris announced on Facebook that the town hall would be closed Friday after a Port Ewen resident tested positive for coronavirus.

An item we missed in Thursday’s roundup: Ulster County Sheriff Juan Figueroa announced a 14-day suspension on evictions in the county. On Friday, he announced that inmates at the county jail, where visits from friends and family have been suspended since Wednesday, would each get a $5 credit to their phone accounts; phone calls in the jail cost inmates $0.14 a minute.

Audio of “La Voz,” a daily Spanish-language radio news program from Radio Kingston, is available on the station’s website. In today’s show, host Mariel Fiori gave an update on coronavirus, and spoke with guests about the upcoming US Census and child and family services.

La grabación de “La Voz,’’ un programa diario en español de Radio Kingston, está disponible en el sitio de la estación. En el programa de hoy, la anfitriona Mariel Fiori da noticias sobre Coronavirus y habla con invitados sobre el inminente censo nacional y servicios de niños y familias.

3 cases confirmed (2 new)

The county has declared a state of emergency. All schools in the county will be closed for 14 days, effective Monday, March 16. Eight Senior Friendship Centers run by the county’s Office for the Aging will also be closed starting Monday. Visitation at the county jail is suspended, all civil service exams are postponed, and all large social and community gatherings are suspended effective immediately.

3 cases confirmed (2 new)

All public schools in the county will close for the next two weeks, part of additional precautions after two more people tested positive for COVID-19. Both patients were seen at Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital Newburgh, but their symptoms were mild and they are recovering at home.

The Enlarged City School District of Middletown already closed all its schools Friday after the district was informed late Thursday one of its health staff was under self-quarantine while awaiting COVID-19 test results.

Local officials said village elections in the county will go ahead as scheduled next Wednesday.

Spring break was extended for cadets at West Point Military Academy by two weeks until March 29. The academy is closed to the public indefinitely.

0 cases confirmed

Columbia-Greene Community College extended its spring break by one week today in response to Gov. Cuomo’s directive to reduce density on campus. Spring break will now run from March 16 until March 27.

Congressman Delgado’s satellite office in Hudson was closed, though phone calls and emails from constituents will continue to be answered and constituent services will continue. Delgado’s other satellite offices and his main office in Kingston also closed.

Non-district events held in the county’s school districts were suspended from Monday until the end of the month.

0 cases confirmed

The Windham-Ashland-Jewitt School District remained closed Friday, though a person who went to the hospital with flu-like symptoms Wednesday—the relative of a school staff member—tested negative for COVID-19.

Windham Mountain is going digital. The ski center is shifting a planned “Town Hall Meeting” to announce news on next season’s passes to a Zoom meeting.

0 cases confirmed

A county over from the outbreak in Westchester, Putnam County executive MaryEllen Odell has declared a state of emergency, in an order that closed all county schools for at least five days. 

The Highlands Current, a nonprofit news site serving western Putnam and southern Dutchess counties, is tracking local news updates daily on a page devoted to coronavirus news, and has another page for cancellations and closures.

Wondering how to deal with the coronavirus outbreak’s effect on, well, everything? The Wall Street Journal put together a special section on everything from advice for navigating workplace dilemmas to how to cope with solitude—and unlike most of the rest of the paper, it’s free.

To read our daily news roundup for yesterday, click here.