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Coronavirus Hudson Valley News: Tuesday, March 17

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This is a roundup of coronavirus news and announcements from New York State and Hudson Valley and Catskills counties published on Tuesday, March 17. Produced in collaboration with The Other Hudson Valley.

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.

Starting today, La Voz, a Spanish-language news magazine covering the Hudson Valley, will be translating these roundups and copublishing them on its website. Read more here.

1,374 cases confirmed (424 new)
New York State official pressroom
Hotline: (888) 364-3065

Announced by New York State today

  • Everyone in New York State is encouraged to stay home as much as possible and to keep a distance of at least six feet from one another in public places.
  • The state’s social distancing advice is not a blanket quarantine or “shelter in place” order, at least not yet, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa announced. “Any blanket quarantine or shelter in place policy would require State action and as the Governor has said, there is no consideration of that for any locality at this time,” she said. California residents in multiple counties are now living under strict “shelter in place” policies that ban travel and nonessential trips, and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has indicated that he is considering something similar, although he would need state action to declare such a policy.
  • In addition to the statewide closing of bars, restaurants, gyms, theaters, and casinos, which went into effect Monday night, the state is urging only essential businesses remain open after 8pm: groceries, pharmacies, gas stations, and medical facilities.
  • A second drive-through testing facility, in addition to the one already operating in New Rochelle, began serving patients on Long Island. Three more are planned in Rockland County, Suffolk County, and Staten Island.
  • State legislators and the Cuomo administration are hammering out a bill to guarantee job protection and pay for quarantined New Yorkers. The bill will include a permanent paid sick leave policy.
  • The state Attorney General will stop collecting student and medical debt for thirty days starting Tuesday, to relieve financial stress during the pandemic. The accrual of interest on these debts will also be suspended.
  • The state is working with healthcare associations and worker unions to create and expand childcare centers for the hospital workforce.
  • In a press conference, Cuomo said that the coronavirus outbreak might peak in around 45 days, The Hill reports, and warned that federal action was badly needed to build out increased hospital capacity. Health experts are predicting that the state will need as many as 55,000 to 110,000 hospital beds, Cuomo told the press. “Compare that to our hospital capacity, and that will keep you up at night,” he said.

A flood of laid-off workers intermittently crashed the New York State unemployment website on Monday, The New York Times reports. They’re working on it.

Also experiencing delays: The federal coronavirus bill, which was rushed to passage by the House in a white heat around 1am on Saturday, got held up in limbo until Monday by a lone Texas GOP rep, and is now still awaiting Senate action. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell says he doesn’t like it, but he’s telling members to sign it soon. Maybe.

The concept of Universal Basic Income has gone from a pipe dream to a real political possibility practically overnight. On Monday, Mitt Romney and Andrew Yang were calling for every American to get $1,000 to help weather the outbreak. By Tuesday, the idea had the support of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Bernie Sanders is proposing that every American get $2,000 a month until the crisis is over. It’s a weird moment of political unity.

Speaking of political unity: After spending Monday sniping at each other on social media, Cuomo and Trump are now apparently pals, the New York Post reports. Or at least they’re working together. “We are Americans at the end of the day,” Cuomo said in a Tuesday press conference.

New York’s tax revenues are expected to fall dramatically, adding between $4 billion and $7 billion to the state’s budget deficit, which was already projected to be $6 billion before the coronavirus, according to an analysis by the state comptroller. The closure of the state’s casinos and video-lottery facilities will also impact the state’s coffers: $1.1 billion in state revenue was expected in the next year. On the positive side of things, Congress is considering legislation in response to the pandemic that would temporarily boost its share of Medicaid spending, decreasing the costs to the states, though the effects of this on the budget can not yet be quantified. Revenue is always difficult to predict, the report noted, and these are only projections.

The federal Small Business Administration relaxed its criteria today for disaster assistance loans related to the coronavirus outbreak. Normally, the SBA only makes disaster assistance loans in counties that have been identified as disaster areas by the Governor; now, they will be made available statewide following an economic injury declaration. For information on how to apply for a low-interest disaster loan for a small business or nonprofit, visit the SBA’s coronavirus page.

The New York State Police are advising residents calling 911 to tell the dispatcher if anyone in their household, including themselves, is experiencing flu-like symptoms. This will allow first responders to prepare properly to prevent the spread of disease, according to the announcement. The State Police are also suspending employment fingerprinting and child safety seat checks until further notice.

Some towns in the Hudson Valley and Catskills have activated new websites, or are posting COVID-19-related information on town Facebook pages. We have begun posting links to town sites along with county information. We don’t have a comprehensive list yet, so if your town has an official website or Facebook page with regularly-updated coronavirus information, we should know about, send us a link at

Many school districts have begun to offer meals to children who are now being schooled at home. Check with your local district for details.

Local places of worship are also widely cancelling services, and also making plans to reach out to homebound congregants. Check with your local place of worship to find out what they are offering.

Data can be shifty, and county confirmed coronavirus case counts are no exception. On Tuesday, according to reporting from the Daily Freeman, the state announced two new cases in Ulster County who were tested in New York City and are still quarantined there. Three other confirmed cases are self-quarantining in Greene County, but were apparently counted elsewhere, since the county officially only has two confirmed cases. We’re not sure exactly how the state is determining which county to put a case in, but it does appear that, like residency in upstate New York in general, whether or not you’re local depends on your definition.

380 cases confirmed (160 new)
Department of Health website

Westchester County, like the state at large, had a big jump in confirmed cases today, a development state official expected to see as more widespread testing ramped up.

A White Plains man was arrested after allegedly threatening to blow up a New Rochelle office building where the state has set up its coronavirus testing command post. The man allegedly called the building and said he was going “to blow up this [expletive] building with all of you guys inside,” according to the Journal News. It was unclear if the threat had to do with coronavirus testing. The building also houses the Westchester County Department of Health.

The Journal News has put together a comprehensive list of cancellations and closures throughout the county.

22 cases confirmed (6 new)
County website

Drive-up COVID-19 testing facilities are operational at Crystal Run Healthcare in West Nyack and Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern. Residents must make appointments through their primary care provider. 

The Journal News has put together a comprehensive list of cancellations and closures throughout the county.

15 cases confirmed (4 new)
County website
Orange County Department of Health: (845) 291-2330

The individual related to Middletown High School who tested positive for the coronavirus late Sunday was a staff member or student, the district superintendent told the Times-Herald Record on Tuesday. District officials have not been provided the person’s identity or any additional information. The infected individual was in the school between March 2–9, and anyone experiencing symptoms should contact their healthcare provider. An additional person related to the first case was tested, but the results have not been provided to the district by the state. The school was closed starting Monday.

The county’s schools will most likely stay closed for at least four weeks, two weeks longer than the initial emergency proclamation, according to Orange County executive Steve Neuhaus. The county was finalizing plans to have half its employees work from home, part of an order Gov. Cuomo issued Monday. County officials said people with mild symptoms should self-quarantine and wait for the virus to self-resolve—which happens in at least 80 percent of cases—to avoid overburdening the medical system.

Orange Regional Medical Center will restrict visitors starting Wednesday. All visitations will be halted except a single visitor for pediatric patients; a birthing partner, parent, or doula for patients at the Birthing Center or the neonatal ICU; and a single visitor to accompany patients to the ER or to surgeries.

16 cases confirmed (6 new)
County website
Dutchess County COVID-19 hotline: (845) 486-3555
Dutchess County 24/7 mental health helpline: (845) 485-9700

The City of Poughkeepsie announced plans to decrease its in-person workforce to decrease density at city buildings. The first round of nonessential workers will go on paid leave for two weeks effective Wednesday, and another round will go on paid leave for two weeks starting April 1. City offices are closed to the public but will continue to conduct business.

The Poughkeepsie Galleria will reduce its hours starting Wednesday. It will be open Monday through Saturday, 11am to 7pm, and Sunday, 11am to 5pm. Twelve establishments in the mall have decided to completely close.

8 cases confirmed (1 new)
County website
Town and village info: Shandaken (website, Facebook, YouTube)
Ulster County COVID-19 hotline: (845) 443-8888

Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan said he is halting hiring and “non-coronavirus work or initiatives until we get through the immediate crisis,” according to the Daily Freeman. The freeze is in anticipation of a drastic loss of sales and hotel/motel tax revenue.

Ryan will hold an online information briefing Wednesday at noon. It will be live-streamed on his official Facebook page. The county will most likely start daily briefings going forward, according to assistant deputy executive Dan Torres.

“Project Resilience”—a public-private partnership between the county, the United Way, and local businesses—will begin to supply meals and other support to county residents affected by the pandemic. The county has secured $2 million for the effort in the last 24 hours. United Way is accepting donations for the effort with the goal of raising $5 million. Residents can apply online for assistance or donate to the effort at

The Daily Freeman has a running list of cancellations and closures.

2 cases (0 new)
Note: In official counts, New York State lists the county where a patient was tested, not where the patient is currently, leading to discrepancies in this county, according to Catskill Daily Mail reporter Melanie Lekocevic. The newspaper reported on Sunday that three people confirmed to have coronavirus, all of whom contracted the virus outside the county, are self-quarantining in Greene County.
County website
Town info: Windham (Facebook)
Columbia Memorial Health COVID-19 hotline: (518) 828-8249

Town of Catskill municipal buildings are closed Tuesday until March 31.

The Robert C, Antonelli Senior Center is closed until March 27, but Meals on Wheels will continue providing food to delivery or pick-up.

2 cases confirmed (0 new)
County website

Putnam County announced that daycare centers would reopen on March 18, but we advise you check back with them on that.

1 case confirmed
Delaware County Public Health Services website
Town and village info: Middletown (emergency website), Fleischmanns (Facebook),
Bassett Healthcare Network hotline: (607) 547-5555

Delaware County Public Health Services issued a press release Tuesday reiterating state advice on social distancing, and urging residents to contact health providers before visiting hospitals or doctors’ offices.

The MARK Project, a nonprofit serving eastern Delaware County and the Ulster County town of Shandaken, is building a locally focused list of resources and announcements.

Among the announcements listed there: The Catskill Watershed Corporation and Delaware County Economic Development are suspending loan payments, and Margaretville Telephone Company is waiving all installation and reconnect fees.

1 case confirmed (Two additional cases were announced by county officials after the state release its daily numbers)
County coronavirus info page

Two more cases of COVID-19 were announced Tuesday, according to a press release from the county manager. The two are self-quarantining and the county is determining if they are any related exposures. The cases are unrelated to Sullivan County’s first case, a healthcare worker at the Sunset Lake nursing home in Liberty. The county did not release the location of the two new cases, and declined comment when asked if they were children or adults, according to independent journalist Rich Klein.

The Catskill Regional Medical Center will restrict visitors starting Wednesday. All visitations will be halted except a single visitor for pediatric patients; a birthing partner, parent or doula for patients at the Birthing Center or the neonatal ICU; and a single visitor to accompany patients to the ER, or to surgeries.

0 cases confirmed
County website
Columbia Memorial Health COVID-19 hotline: (518) 828-8249

Further details about the county’s school closures were released Tuesday. Ichabod Crane Central School District will begin distributing free bagged lunches each day at three locations.

0 cases confirmed
County coronavirus info page

Middleburgh’s village mayor, Matthew Avitabile, had been hoping to step down from office after village elections slated for this week, but those have now been moved to April 28. Today, in a Facebook post, he let village residents know he’s not going anywhere. “I am here at the closed Village Hall, where I will be part of every weekday. We are compiling non-perishable goods and will be working with Edson Lindsey, Schoharie County LOVE, Valley Market, Middleburgh Pharmacy, and the community to get goods out as needed. My cell is (518) 763-6854. The office phone is (518) 827-5143. Be safe everyone!” he wrote.

The River has begun publishing a weekly Sunday roundup of some of the best longform reporting, analysis, and feature writing on the coronavirus pandemic. Check out our first edition here.

To read more of our daily news roundups, visit our coronavirus page.