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Coronavirus

Coronavirus Roundup: ‘King’ Cuomo in the Spotlight

All the news and announcements from New York State, the Hudson Valley, and the Catskills for Saturday, October 10 through Monday, October 12.

Governor Cuomo’s book, coming out Tuesday, has put his coronavirus response back in the spotlight.
Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
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This is a roundup of coronavirus news and announcements from New York State and Hudson Valley and Catskills counties for Saturday, October 10 through Monday, October 12. 

NEW YORK STATE
475,315 cases confirmed (1,029 new)
12,131,366 tests performed (91,793 new)
Positive test rate: 1.12%
25,587 deaths (13 new)
878 hospitalizations
185 ICU admissions
New York State coronavirus page
New York State official pressroom
Hotline: (888) 364-3065

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s book American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic comes out on Tuesday. So over the weekend, we’ve been inundated with profiles of the “King of New York”—as the New Yorker’s Nick Paumgarten calls him, in a hefty 12,000-word examination of the very Empire State blend of skill and ruthlessness that has made Cuomo the man for the moment. “In some ways, the occasion was perfect for Cuomo,” Paumgarten writes. “‘He’s inclined toward tyranny,’ a Democratic legislator told me. ‘But in a crisis, that’s what people want. Someone who can exert command and control. This situation is tailor-made for a tactician of his abilities.’”

This week’s New York magazine has a story that’s a little more digestible: A Q&A with Cuomo about the decisions he’s made and the reasoning behind them, with helpful footnotes throughout on topics ranging from the science of herd immunity to the now-infamous boyfriend.

In a recent column, the Times Union’s Chris Churchill lamented that the late former New York State Senate majority leader Joe Bruno would never have let Cuomo get away with seizing so much power. “Even supporters of Cuomo, or those who think he’s doing well to guide New York through the pandemic, should worry that New York in this moment is not what anyone would call a functioning democracy,” Churchill writes, and he’s not wrong.

Clusters of infection in New York State hotspots are still burning hot, with positivity rates in the hotspots averaging more than six percent over the past week. But so far, the rest of the state is still holding fairly steady. Will Cuomo’s intense lockdowns on schools and gatherings in cluster locations work to keep the hotspots from spreading? That remains to be seen—and the next few weeks will be an important test of the state’s strategy on how to handle local outbreaks. 

Heshy Tischler, the right-wing agent provocateur behind several lockdown protests that turned violent in Orthodox neighborhoods in New York City last week, was arrested by New York City police on Sunday evening, Gothamist reports. Shortly after his arrest, a crowd of Orthodox protestors with bullhorns and Trump flags gathered outside the apartment of Jacob Kornbluh, a Hasidic reporter who was attacked at one of Tischler’s rallies and is pressing charges. 

In a briefing with reporters on Sunday, Cuomo said that it has been possible to take action on a very local level in the hotspots because New York State as a whole has gotten control of the pandemic through testing and policy. “We’re now tracking a cluster in about two or three percent of the population. No other state has this discussion, because no other state has the ability to target that way,” Cuomo said. “The number in our clusters is much less than most states’ positivity.” That’s true: A little over half of US states currently report statewide positivity rates above 5.7 percent, the positivity rate in the hotspots as of Saturday. 

In Sunday’s briefing, Cuomo called the experimental antibody treatment given to President Donald Trump “Regeneron,” a mistake Trump himself has also made. For what it’s worth: Regeneron is the company, not the drug, which has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Hospitalizations in New York State are up 73 percent since September, the Times Union reports. Cuomo said in Sunday’s briefing that the increase in hospitalizations is being driven by cases in the hotspot zones. 

In the Southern Tier, Steuben County is facing an uptick in cases, largely fueled by an outbreak at a Corning nursing home, with numbers of new positives per day far exceeding the county’s numbers in the spring. WENY reports that the county currently has more than 260 known active positive cases, and more than 800 people in isolation or precautionary quarantine. Contact tracers have linked Steuben County positive cases to at least 10 locations across the Southern Tier. Nearby Chemung County has also had a spike in case counts.

Meanwhile, Western New York, where numbers have been slightly worrisome in the past few weeks, is on a path of “uneasy improvement,” the Buffalo News writes. 

Federal negotiations about another round of pandemic aid have gotten very weird in recent weeks, with Trump first walking away from the table and then returning to call for an even larger aid package than the $2.2 trillion proposed by Democrats. At present, the biggest obstruction standing in the way of a bill getting passed is a group of skeptical Congressional Republicans, The Hill reports. It seems unlikely that a federal stimulus bill will get passed before the November 3 election, but stranger things have happened.

Below is a Flourish animation we have compiled that shows the rate of active cases per 10,000 residents for each county in our coverage region from May 12 through the present date.

LOWER HUDSON VALLEY
County coronavirus pages: Rockland, Westchester, Putnam
University coronavirus pages: Sarah Lawrence, Iona, SUNY Purchase, Manhattanville, Westchester Community College, Rockland Community College, Dominican, Mercy

East Ramapo schools have extended remote learning another two weeks at the urging of teachers. The district is largely within the coronavirus cluster zone in Ramapo. Some students were supposed to begin returning to in-person classes starting today, though East Ramapo Teachers Association acting president Susan LoRusso led the calls for the district to err on the side of caution.

Iona College in New Rochelle was locked down on Monday after a superspreader event among student athletes led to at least 65 positive COVID-19 tests late last week, LoHud.com reports. Classes will go online-only for at least the next two weeks.

MID-HUDSON VALLEY
County coronavirus pages: Orange, Dutchess, Ulster, Columbia
University coronavirus page: Bard, Vassar, Marist, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Ulster, Columbia-Greene Community College, SUNY Orange

Schools in Kiryas Joel did not reopen today after the Sukkot holiday because of the outbreak currently underway in the village. When they will be allowed to reopen is still an open question. Two separate closure orders issued last week—one by Orange County Health Commissioner Dr. Irina Gelman, the other by Governor Cuomo as part of the Cluster Action Initiative—bear on the region. The county order states that schools will remain closed for at least two weeks and at least until the seven-day average for positive COVID-19 test results in Kiryas Joel dropped below nine percent. That makes October 20 the earliest date schools could reopen. Superintendent Joel Petlin said the district would comply with the orders.

Marist College paused in-person classes last week after finding several COVID-19 cases. On Sunday, the college announced that it had found additional cases, and would be extending the campus-wide pause through Monday and Tuesday, with all classes held remotely, all gatherings and athletic events suspended, and the campus closed to visitors. According to the campus COVID-19 dashboard, Marist currently has 21 members of the campus community isolating at home after testing positive, and another four isolating on campus. 

The Middletown city school district announced that it will offer a remote option to families for the rest of the year, a decision reached after a petition to the district to offer remote learning gathered more than 1,200 signatures. 

A staff member at Duzine Elementary School in the New Paltz Central School District has tested positive for COVID-19, the district announced Friday. The staffer was last in the building on October 2 and was wearing a mask, according to a district statement. Elementary school students are still scheduled to return to in-person learning in hybrid mode on October 26

A student at Park Avenue Elementary School in the Warwick Valley Central School District tested positive for COVID-19 on October 9, the district announced Friday. The student has not attended school since September 29, and the district is reopening on schedule on Tuesday, October 13. 

CATSKILLS
County coronavirus pages: Sullivan, Delaware, Greene, Schoharie
University coronavirus pages: SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Delhi, SUNY Sullivan

The Catskill Central School District was slated to reopen some in-person schooling in a hybrid mode on Tuesday, but the district is delaying reopening until at least Thursday after a school employee tested positive, the Catskill Daily Mail reports. 


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The River has a guide on where, how, and when to get tested for the coronavirus in the Hudson Valley and Catskills. To read more of our coronavirus coverage, 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.