This is a roundup of coronavirus news and announcements from New York State and Hudson Valley and Catskills counties for Tuesday, July 21 and Wednesday, July 22.
NEW YORK STATE
408,886 cases confirmed (705 new)
5,298,640 tests performed (67,659 new)
Positive test rate: 1%
25,068 deaths (10 new)
714 current hospitalizations
179 current ICU admissions
New York State coronavirus page
New York State official pressroom
Hotline: (888) 364-3065
No surprise, but still news: We’ve been undercounting cases everywhere. A new analysis of antibody test data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was released this week, the largest such study in the US so far. The latest data backs up what many epidemiologists have been saying all along: The number of actual COVID-19 infections acquired so far is much greater than the number of known cases, ranging from two to 13 times higher than reported case numbers. The proportion of uncounted cases varies widely by region, and by the timing of the data; for instance, researchers estimate that New York City had 12 times as many uncounted infections as reported cases in early April, but by early May, uncounted infections had fallen to 10 times the number of reported cases. Another key takeaway from the study: No region, not even hard-hit New York City, is anywhere close to the 60 percent exposure level some experts believe is the minimum for herd immunity to emerge.
Another coronavirus relief package seems more a matter of if, not when, but what will be in it remains an open question. Reporting this week indicates an answer may be a ways off: In an article headlined “Congressional Republicans Are Close to Revolt Over Stimulus Aid,” The New York Times details the infighting among the GOP, which—even with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell sharing details of a nearly $1 trillion stimulus—is rife with dissension from the right-wing rank and file, who are opposed to many elements of the plan. “Top Republican officials privately cautioned on Tuesday that the coming negotiation … was likely to stretch into August, leaving tens of millions of unemployed Americans without extra help as Congress hammers out the latest recovery plan and the virus surges,” the Times writes.
One point of contention: Whether and at what level to extend the federal unemployment bonus that has helped many of the 25 million Americans receiving unemployment benefits make ends meet. The weekly $600 supplement expires at the end of July, though Democrats have argued for extending it at least into next year. Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, have signaled a willingness to extend the benefit, but at $100 per week, CNBC reports.
As of last week, all bars and restaurants in New York State have to serve food with drink orders in order to remain open—and “Cuomo chips” won’t cut it, the state Liquor Authority says. In guidance updated on the state website Tuesday, the authority issued a somewhat lawyerly Q&A on what constitutes “other foods.” “‘Other foods’ are foods which are similar in quality and substance to sandwiches and soups; for example, salads, wings, or hotdogs [sic] would be of that quality and substance; however, a bag of chips, bowl of nuts, or candy alone are not,” the document states. “As a restaurant or bar owner, in determining whether a particular item is substantial enough, please keep in mind the purpose of this policy: to ensure that patrons are enjoying a sit-down dining experience among a small group with drinks, i.e. a meal, and not a drinking, bar-type experience.” [Editor’s note: If you’re a bar owner wondering whether your new menu item has that requisite soupy quality and substance, you may need to ask the Liquor Authority; they don’t get much more specific than ‘chips and candy not good enough.’]
Healthcare organizations are fighting back against an effort in the New York State legislature to roll back emergency liability protections conferred on nursing homes during the pandemic, State of Politics reports.
The reopening of New York State courts is sparking lawsuits, CNHI’s Joe Mahoney reports. At least seven groups have signed onto a pair of federal lawsuits claiming that the reopening of courts presents health risks to clients and courtroom staff.
The Washington Post published a cool infographic on Wednesday showing where in the US voters can vote by mail without needing an excuse. There are just nine states that currently do not allow absentee ballot voting unless a voter has a non-pandemic-related excuse; unfortunately for local health-conscious voters, New York is one of them. Time is running out for states to change up their systems, a former election official tells the paper.
Announced by New York State on Tuesday and Wednesday:
- Ten states were added Tuesday to the quarantine requirements imposed on travelers to the tri-state region because of high case counts or positivity rates. The new states from which travelers must quarantine for two weeks are: Alaska, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Virginia, and Washington state. Minnesota has been removed from the list. The full list of states from which travelers to New York must quarantine is now up to 31 states; it’s easier to list states that are not subject to quarantine requirements.
- The state Liquor Authority has suspended the licenses of four bars and restaurants in Queens and Long Island for violations of pandemic guidelines. Since the beginning of Cuomo’s COVID-19 emergency declaration, the Liquor Authority has suspended 27 licenses for violations, the governor’s office stated in a Tuesday release.
- Cuomo and Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland are calling on Congress to pass a $500 billion state stabilization fund as part of Congress’s developing package of pandemic aid legislation.
- New York State has launched a new testing site in the Rockland County town of Ramapo. The clinic, located at the Cultural Arts Center at 64 North Main Street in Spring Valley, will run from 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday.
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which has its main campus in Pearl River, will receive nearly $2 billion in federal funding to deliver a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced on Wednesday. The deal is for 100 million doses of the vaccine, which is still in research and development, and is part of President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine program, under which multiple COVID-19 vaccines are being developed simultaneously.
At least 21 people in Dutchess and Ulster counties received false positives on COVID-19 tests last week, the result of a batch contamination at a private lab used by Nuvance Health. The River has the details.
The Beacon City Council adopted a resolution Monday recommending that the state implement safeguards in prisons to protect against the spread of the coronavirus. Beacon is home to Fishkill Correctional Facility, which has had 86 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Dutchess and Ulster County Executives Marc Molinaro and Pat Ryan will join Albany County executive Dan McCoy and Steven Acquario of the New York State Association of Counties for a Zoom press conference at 12pm on Thursday to discuss county-level needs for federal funding.
The Ulster County Sheriff’s Office has not issued a single ticket or warning for violations of COVID-19 social-distancing and gathering restrictions, according to Detective Lt. Abram Markiewicz, as reported by the Daily Freeman.
SUNY Ulster’s 2020-21 academic year budget, which includes a tuition hike to make up for an expected drop in state education funding, was unanimously approved without discussion by the county legislature on Tuesday.
In the beleaguered little Delaware County village of Fleischmanns, local Orthodox businessman Avi Mendlovic is defying efforts by the state Department of Health and village officials to shut down de facto overnight camps for teenage boys, the Daily Star reports. Village officials say that in response to receiving cease-and-desist orders from the state at his two hotel properties, Mendlovic has opted to disperse the teens amongst houses he owns in the village rather than sending them home. “Someone can rent a house and fill it with as many people as they want and claim it’s family. There’s nothing stopping him right now from doing that,” Mayor Fred Woller told the paper. Two other Orthodox lodging business owners in the village are complying with state cease-and-desist orders.
New York State reported two new cases found in Schoharie County on Monday. County public health officials have not posted a new case update since July 13.
The pandemic is slowing down Schoharie’s Main Street, the Times-Journal reports. Several high-profile renovation projects in the works by local restaurant owners are on hold, either for financial or logistical reasons.
Monticello voters head to the polls to vote in person next week on a revised school budget. The Monticello Central School District’s original proposed $90.9 million budget was defeated in June’s mail-in vote; the revised budget is about $90.5 million.
After getting an earful from constituents in hearings last week, the Sullivan County legislature has tabled a controversial vote on whether to begin the process of selling the county-owned—and money-hemorrhaging—Sunset Lake nursing home. No date has yet been set for the decision.
Concerned citizens braved 90-degree weather on Monday to attend a socially distanced outdoor meeting in Hunter about how to handle longstanding trash and overcrowding problems at Kaaterskill Clove, which have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. Hudson Valley 360 reports that the meeting generated plenty of heat, but little light.
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.