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Coronavirus Roundup: 1 Million Tests, Factors for Regional Reopening

All the news and announcements from New York State and Hudson Valley and Catskills counties from Monday, May 4.

The drive-through COVID-19 test site at the Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome.
Sgt. Alexander Rector
  • Credibility:

This is a roundup of coronavirus news and announcements from New York State and Hudson Valley and Catskills counties published on Monday, May 4.

318,953 cases confirmed (2,538 new)
1,007,310 tests performed (21,399 new)
19,415 deaths (226 new)
69,331 hospitalizations (overall)
9,647 hospitalizations (current)
Confirmed cases per 10,000 residents: 164
New York State coronavirus page
New York State official pressroom
Hotline: (888) 364-3065

New York has passed another pandemic milestone, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in his daily briefing Monday: More than one million New Yorkers have now been tested for COVID-19. New York is ahead of the nation (and most countries) on the testing front, but that still leaves 18.45 million in the state who haven’t been tested.

Coronaviruses: How do they work? In a feature, titled “Profile of a Killer,” the scientific journal Nature explains what we currently know about how the novel coronavirus spreads, where in the natural world it’s been lurking for the past few centuries, and what it does to human cells and organs.

The FDA is reversing a lenient policy from March that let a flood of shoddy antibody tests into the market, Politico reports. Manufacturers will now have to demonstrate within 10 business days of their product hitting the market that they can meet FDA criteria for specificity and sensitivity, or be forced to stop distribution. Scott Becker, CEO of the Association of Public Health Laboratories, applauded the shift: “This revised policy makes a lot of sense and should have been in place over the last six weeks,” he told Politico.

If you’re one of the tens of thousands of New Yorkers whose unemployment application has been approved but who is not receiving payment—congratulations, first of all, on getting that far. The problem may be that the state Department of Labor requires applications to be recertified each week. Unemployment recipients must certify when their applications switch from “pending” to “payable,” and go back online or call each week to repeat the process. The labor department emailed 90,000 people over the weekend to remind them to certify, according to The Post-Standard in Syracuse.

If you haven’t gotten unemployment pay yet, you may also be a tipped worker. Many have not been able to access full unemployment benefits because they receive a subminimum base wage, and depending on how they report tips on their income, they may not make enough on paper to qualify for unemployment. In a conference call on Friday, US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said that food service industries must change as states plan to reopen businesses. Gillibrand called for eliminating the tipped minimum wage and increasing the minimum wage to $15.

Across the United States, millions of small businesses are struggling and failing in the wake of the current public health crisis. The “great small-business die-off” is here, and it will change the landscape of American commerce for years to come. Before the crisis hit, half of small businesses had less than two weeks’ worth of cash on hand, making it impossible to cover rent, insurance, utilities, and payroll through any kind of sustained downturn. Data from credit-card processors suggest that roughly 30 percent of small businesses have shut down during the pandemic.

School board and school budget elections, which were scheduled to take place in May, have been moved to June 9 by state fiat. An executive order issued Friday by Cuomo will also require all school districts to send absentee ballots to all eligible voters in their districts, a requirement that presents new costs and logistical issues to districts already struggling with unprecedented challenges and facing steep cuts in state aid. The executive order also moves village elections, which have already been delayed once, even further ahead to September 15. 

In Monday’s briefing, Cuomo went into more detail on what conditions the state will need to see in regions before moving to loosen restrictions on businesses and other forms of activity. None of the state’s 10 economic development regions meet the criteria yet, but upstate is closer, Cuomo said: “This state has different regions which are in much different situations than other regions in this state. And rather than wait for the whole state to be ready, reopen on a regional basis. If upstate has to wait for downstate to be ready, they’re going to be waiting a long time.” One factor standing in the way of upstate reopening: Regions farther from New York City, which have been less impacted by infections and demand on hospital capacity, do not yet have enough tests on hand to meet state and CDC recommendations for widespread testing availability.

Announced by New York State on Monday

  • Criteria for beginning to reopen economic activity in a region, according to Cuomo’s briefing on Monday: 
    • 14 days of declining hospitalizations and deaths on a three-day rolling average;
    • In places with fewer cases, no more than 15 new hospitalizations or five new deaths on a three-day rolling average;
    • No more than two new hospitalizations per 100,000 residents daily;
    • 30 percent vacant capacity in hospital beds and ICUs;
    • A 90-day supply of PPE for every hospital;
    • At least 30 tests for every 1,000 residents on hand;
    • At least 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents, with additional tracers in more heavily infected areas.
  • Businesses seeking to reopen will also have to adopt safety precautions. To qualify for reopening, businesses must:
    • Adjust workplace hours and shift design as necessary to reduce density in the workplace;
    • Enact social distancing protocols;
    • Restrict nonessential travel for employees;
    • Require all employees and customers to wear masks if in frequent contact with others;
    • Implement strict cleaning and sanitation standards;
    • Enact a continuous health screening process for individuals to enter the workplace;
    • Continue tracing, tracking, and reporting of cases; and
    • Develop liability processes.
  • The special enrollment period for health insurance will remain open through June 15, 2020.
A graph showing the number of cases per 10,000 residents in each county, drawn from New York State’s data of cases found the previous day.

12,095 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page

Those who have been subjected to mandatory isolation or quarantine by the county Department of Health can now virtually request a COVID-19 release letter that can be given to a school or employer to show they have completed the required quarantine or isolation period and are eligible to return. Those interested can follow the steps on the county website.

Coronavirus-related deaths in the county inched up to 536 on Monday, about a 3 percent increase over the weekend. But hospitalizations continued their downward trend, reports There were 176 people with confirmed cases, and another 16 with suspected cases, in Rockland County hospitals as of Monday, down from 179 and 17 on Friday.

30,097 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page
County press release page

County executive George Latimer announced that the county is facilitating 400 COVID-19 antibody tests a day for all Westchester first responders. The testing, conducted in partnership with Westchester Medical Center, began Monday at the Westchester County Center.

The number of those hospitalized in Westchester County because of the coronavirus dropped again Monday, as active cases have been cut in almost half since the county’s April peak. A total of 1,101 residents have died in the last two months from the virus, but the number of deaths has slowed to fewer than 20 per day in recent days, Latimer said in a Monday briefing. “Clearly, we’re past the point of flattening the curve. We are now on the downside of the bell curve that we’ve had,” he said.

The county began an effort Monday to test in all nursing homes, assisted living facilities, group homes, or other housing for seniors, Latimer said. “It’s a pretty big task.” As of Friday, May 1, 3,733 deaths in the state were attributed to nursing homes, according to state Department of Health data.

9,015 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page
Orange County Department of Health: (845) 291-2330

The Orange County Health Department released a new app that provides up-to-the-minute alerts with information about COVID-19 services, emergency Health Department issues, Health Department news and press releases, and programs offered by the Department. Users can also sign up for alerts from the Centers for Disease Control. 

Like businesses everywhere, Orange County operations have had to adapt their practices to remain profitable during the current public health crisis. The Times Herald-Record profiled several small businesses that have been hard-hit by the shutdown, and what they’ve done to bring in new customers.

3,131 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page
Dutchess County COVID-19 hotline: (845) 486-3555
Dutchess County 24/7 mental health helpline: (845) 485-9700

Dutchess County filed its 2019 year-end financial report to the state on time, with a $1.4 million surplus in the governmental general fund due to what it labels “conservative fiscal management,” according to a press release. “This strong financial condition will be essential as the county continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and the related economic impacts.”

After Governor Cuomo announced on Friday that schools would be closed for the remainder of the academic year, Dutchess County executive Marc Molinaro sent a letter urging consideration for the needs of special education students and their families over the summer, particularly the need for remote learning platforms to be made compatible with critical assistive technologies.

While managing the county’s response to COVID-19, Molinaro had to deal with the loss of his father to the virus. “It was saddening and surreal, he was a healthy man,” Molinaro said of his father, who was one of 11 people who had died of the virus in the county at that time. Anthony Molinaro, 67, worked for decades in the telecom industry and was still working before he went to the hospital. He held a second job at a casino, which was part of the shutdown.

Dutchess County received a donation of 25,000 face masks from local auto dealers on Monday. The donation is part of a larger donation of 500,000 masks from the Greater New York Auto Dealers Association being distributed across 12 lower New York counties.

COVID-19 may have been the straw that broke the back of the Poughkeepsie Day School. Officials say enrollment has fallen by 40 percent over the last six years, to just over half the school’s capacity of 320 students, and the budget deficit for 2019-20 is $1.4 million. In March, more than 100 parents, teachers, and students attended an emotional meeting at PDS, during which the school’s board members said that years of declining enrollment and deficits had been exacerbated by the COVID-19 shutdown. The March meeting was a prelude to the board’s announcement on April 18 that there was no “viable plan to operate next year” and that the school would close on June 30. The board said it has asked donors for the okay to use restricted funds and collected money owed to the school to get through 2019-20.

1,026 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page

When Cuomo began talking in April about using the state’s 10 economic development regions to guide reopening, Dutchess County officials protested, not wanting to be lumped in with their more heavily-impacted southern neighbors in the mid-Hudson region. Putnam is joining the chorus as well: The Highlands Current spoke to county executive MaryEllen Odell and state senator Sue Serino, along with Dutchess County executive Marc Molinaro, about why they believe Putnam and Dutchess are dealing with a different reality than, for example, Rockland and Westchester. Odell wants to focus on construction workers in reopening plans: “We have to push, push, push Albany to allow those individuals to get back to work,” she told the news outlet.

976 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page

About 45 people got tested for COVID-19 at the site that opened in South Fallsburg on Monday. 

The Sullivan County legislature has signed an agreement with the union that represents Division of Public Works employees, allowing them to man every plow truck with one person instead of two and avoiding deeper cuts to staffing. The county estimates that the provision will save $500,000 in expenses. Facing losses of at least $10 million in revenues, the county has temporarily laid off 78 employees.

Legislature vice chair Mike Brooks, county manager Josh Potosek, and Public Health director Nancy McGraw were joined by Health and Family Services commissioner Stephanie Brown for a Facebook live town hall on Monday, which you can watch on the county’s website. The county confirmed 4,098 people tested, 54 new cases since Friday, 1,209 people in mandatory quarantine, and one COVID-19 death since the last update, bringing the county’s total fatalities to 23.

1,354 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page
Community resources page
Ulster County COVID-19 hotline: (845) 443-8888

Project Resilience has delivered 100,000 meals to county residents since its launch seven weeks ago, according to county executive Pat Ryan’s office. The private-public partnership pays local restaurants to create meals for residents economically impacted by the pandemic and engages volunteers to deliver the food. The program has been funded by private donations small and large—1,000 individuals contributed a combined $180,000, and local businesses such as Central Hudson, Wallkill Valley Federal Savings and Loan, and Ulster Savings Charitable Foundation have also pitched in.

Kingston had its first COVID-19 death over the weekend, Mayor Steve Noble said in a Facebook live update on Monday.

Ryan said on Monday that the county has been told by the state that it will be getting enough test kits this week to test residents and staff at all county nursing homes, according to a report in the Daily Freeman. Only Ten Broeck Commons and Wingate at Ulster in the Town of Lloyd have been tested so far.

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

Columbia County will conduct the first of what is planned to be a series of COVID-19 testing clinics on Friday, May 8. The clinic will take place by appointment only and is being held at Columbia Greene Community College as a drive-through site.

Johnson Newspaper Corp., which publishes the Register-Star, The Daily Mail and, and Downtown Digital Group, an advertising and marketing solutions company, announced a grant program for local businesses on Monday. The “A Hand Up Marketing Grant” initiative will give up to $5,000 per business “to assist businesses marketing through Johnson Newspaper Corp. publications and digital platforms.” Where the money is coming from and why it’s not being funneled into these newsrooms’ editorial operations was not immediately clear.

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

There were no major updates out of Delaware County today. To read the news from the weekend, click here.

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

Johnson Newspaper Corp., which publishes the Register-Star, The Daily Mail and, and Downtown Digital Group, an advertising and marketing solutions company, announced a grant program for local businesses on Monday. The “A Hand Up Marketing Grant” initiative will give up to $5,000 per business “to assist businesses marketing through Johnson Newspaper Corp. publications and digital platforms.” Where the money is coming from and why it’s not being funneled into these newsrooms’ editorial operations was not immediately clear.

45 cases confirmed
County coronavirus page
Bassett triage line: (607) 547-5555

There were no major updates out of Schoharie County today. To read the news from the weekend, click here.

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 is 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.