This is a roundup of coronavirus-related news and announcements from New York State and Hudson Valley counties published on Thursday, March 12. Produced in collaboration with The Other Hudson Valley.
NEW YORK STATE
Governor Andrew Cuomo has been holding daily press briefings on the New York State coronavirus outbreak since the state’s first confirmed case was discovered, on March 1. Today, Politico took a behind-the-scenes look at the governor’s unprecedented barrage of swift action, sweeping legislation, and public appearances.
As of today, the statewide total of confirmed cases jumped to 325, an increase of more than 100 since Wednesday. There were 148 confirmed cases in Westchester County, 95 in New York City, 41 in Nassau County, seven in Rockland County, four in Ulster County, three in Saratoga County, and one each in Albany, Broome, Delaware, Dutchess, Herkimer, Monroe, and Orange counties.
In today’s briefing, Cuomo announced a statewide ban on gatherings of more than 500 people, and a reduction to 50 percent occupancy on all venues with an occupancy of under 500, including restaurants and bars. All nursing home visits in the state have been restricted to those deemed “medically necessary,” a provision taken to try to stave off high mortality rates like those now unfolding in Washington. These policies are slated to take effect as of 5 p.m. on Friday, March 13.
Also announced today: BioReference Laboratories will partner with the state to conduct an additional 5,000 tests per day starting next week, adding to testing from 28 private labs that were announced Wednesday. The first public drive-through testing facility—located in New Rochelle, where the state’s largest outbreak is underway—will open on Friday by appointment only, and will test New Rochelle residents who have been quarantined first. The state is also preparing to expand hospital and healthcare worker capacity, and is asking former healthcare professionals to get in touch with former employers.
Case numbers continue to go up, in New York and beyond. New cases are sometimes announced by local authorities after the Governor’s daily press briefing, as in Ulster County yesterday.
One of the best overall sources for US numbers on confirmed cases is currently the COVID-19 Tracking Project, a collaborative effort between journalists and researchers that is compiling both state and federal data.
New York is working on increasing testing capacity by letting private labs test for coronavirus, but there still aren’t enough tests for everyone that needs one.
SUNY two-year and four-year colleges plan to remain open while shifting as many courses as possible to a distance learning format. Several schools will extend their spring breaks for an additional week. One holdout from distance learning plans, for now: SUNY Delhi in Delaware County, whose administrators announced late Thursday afternoon that the college will continue to hold classes, but will try to finish all hands-on lab instruction by the start of spring break on April 3.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has declared a state of emergency in New York City.
Breakthrough near in test kits for NYS: The Daily Gazette reports on New York State bypassing federal regulators, and adding outside help to increase testing as the case count climbs steeply.
148 cases confirmed (27 new)
State officials announced 148 confirmed cases in Westchester County on Thursday.
“We’re not containing people, we’re containing facilities.” The New York Times visits the New Rochelle “containment zone,” where life is getting a little weird, but people are delivering loaned laptops to housebound students, bustling around an impromptu incident command center, and generally making the best of things.
The National Guard is in New Rochelle, helping to hand out food and clean up.
Want the latest outbreak news, but with Drake reactions? Follow Westchestermemes2.0 on Instagram. For real: a lot of high school kids in the outbreak zone are getting most of their news from meme accounts, and organizing in the comments to bargain collectively with school administrators.
Ossining school superintendent Raymond Sanchez was on the air at WNYC to talk about plans for local school districts and impacts on students.
The City School District of New Rochelle announced the closure of all schools in the district through March 25.
Yonkers officials announced that six people in the city had tested positive for coronavirus, and that schools would be closed Friday. If any cases are found in the school system, the school closure might last longer.
Empire City Casino in Yonkers announced that the casino would remain open, two days after the casino learned that an employee had tested positive for coronavirus and died. Their racing operation has been suspended.
4 cases confirmed (2 new)
Ulster County declared a state of emergency after two more residents tested positive for the coronavirus. Both cases were connected to the county’s previous two cases in Rochester and Shawangunk. The county will limit access to its public buildings for two weeks starting March 16 and recommended postponing or cancelling all non-essential indoor events for two weeks.
Kingston indefinitely postponed its St. Patrick’s Day parade and Shamrock Run after discussions between the county executive and event organizers.
The Kingston City School District announced that they will be closed on Friday, March 13, 2020, due to a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the KCSD community per the Ulster County Department of Health. It was unclear from the announcement whether the case was one of the four officially announced by the state for Ulster County.
The Ulster County Jail has suspended visits to inmates.
The county opened its emergency operation center after the first reported case March 8, and continues to bar visitors to the county jail and recommends that nursing homes and assisted living facilities limit visitation.
On Wednesday, the Wallkill Central School District announced that it would shut down until at least Monday, March 16, after a family member of a student and a staff member in the district tested positive for the virus.
The Ulster County Department of Health announced it is seeking volunteers to help field calls related to the coronavirus over the next several weeks.
An announcement from the village of New Paltz: “We are suspending all in-person meetings and public gatherings for all “Advisory” and “Ad Hoc” volunteer Boards and Committees over the next 30 days. However, business-essential boards that function according to timetables mandated by New York State and are governed by public notice requirements will continue to function as normal unless otherwise noticed. We are encouraging everybody to sign up for email alerts on the village website so that they may stay up-to-date on COVID-19 information and precautions. Additionally, trustee Bill Murray is working on identifying neighborhood captains across New Paltz who will be point people for efforts to door knock neighborhoods to make sure everybody is up-to-date on COVID-19 information and precautions. Please email William Wheeler-Murray <firstname.lastname@example.org> if you are interested in getting involved in those efforts.
-KT Tobin, PhD, Deputy Mayor, Village of New Paltz”
0 cases confirmed
A county emergency operations center staffed by public health officials and law enforcement will be activated if necessary, officials announced after a meeting to discuss the coronavirus Thursday morning.
Safety measures on Greene County Transit: “Our vehicles will be sanitized and disinfected before and after all runs in all high risk areas as recommended by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”
Windham-Ashland-Jewett schools were closed for the second day, and will remain closed Friday. A relative of a school staffer, whose illness prompted the closure, has tested negative for the coronavirus.
Windham Mountain announced that a volunteer ski patroller who was on the mountain on Wednesday, March 11, who also works as a paramedic, had been in contact with someone in his town who tested positive for coronavirus. According to the release, the patroller is being tested and is following quarantine guidelines, and areas he visited have been “thoroughly cleaned.” Windham has closed their spa and is limiting the size of gatherings on the mountain.
0 cases confirmed
The Columbia County public health director said the county was going to “get nailed” by the coronavirus during a meeting of the Board of Supervisors Wednesday night. Plans are in place for an emergency operations center in Hudson.
A spokesman at Columbia Memorial Health in Hudson shot down rumors that a patient at the hospital had the coronavirus. No patients had tested positive as of Thursday morning, according to a mid-day Facebook post from the hospital.
1 case confirmed (1 new)
Orange County’s first confirmed coronavirus case has been announced, a patient at Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital in Newburgh. The hospital has furloughed 26 workers as a precaution, and they will be under self-quarantine for 14 days.
1 case confirmed (1 new)
A Dutchess County resident has tested positive for COVID-19. The county is recommending canceling or postponing all large social gatherings.
The patient who tested positive contracted the virus in the US, but not in the county, Dutchess County health commissioner Dr. Anil Vaidian said.
7 cases confirmed (1 new)
Gov. Cuomo’s daily briefing added one new case to the six that had been previously announced in Rockland County. Those six are all in the town of Ramapo; three are students in the East Ramapo Central School District. The discovery of confirmed coronavirus in the district on Tuesday prompted officials to recommend the short-term closure of Hempstead Elementary, Pomona Middle School, and Ramapo High School, and a 14-day precautionary quarantine for visitors to the schools during potential exposure dates listed in the release.
0 cases confirmed
School officials dismissed students early in Brewster Central School District after a family member of a student became ill.
Novel Coronavirus Prevention & Control for Farms, a resource from Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Johns Hopkins has an amazing worldwide coronavirus map full of live data.
Local reporters and avid tweeters are using the hashtag #covid19hv to track Hudson Valley coronavirus news in real time on Twitter.