This is a roundup of coronavirus news and announcements from New York State and Hudson Valley and Catskills counties published on Monday, June 15. Produced in collaboration with The Other Hudson Valley.
NEW YORK STATE
383,944 cases confirmed (620 new)
2,991,210 tests performed (56,611 new)
24,579 deaths (28 new)
1,608 current hospitalizations
470 ICU admissions
New York State coronavirus page
New York State official pressroom
Hotline: (888) 364-3065
Hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 in New York State are still dropping. In Monday’s briefing, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the three-day averages for both hospitalizations and deaths in the state are now the lowest they have been since the pandemic began. New York City has now seen more than two weeks of large protests with no sign of a protest-related case spike, but city officials are taking a cautious approach; Politico reports that Mayor Bill de Blasio and city health officials are waiting until the end of the month to draw any firm conclusions from the data.
Elsewhere, it’s a different story: Cases are surging in Western states and the Sun Belt. Some of the growing case numbers are fueled by the increased availability of testing, a response New York State was ahead of many states on. But even accounting for greater testing access, epidemiologists say growing transmission of COVID-19 is a problem in states like Florida, Arizona, and Texas, all of which have seen record numbers of new cases in the past week.
Western New York is cleared to enter Phase Three of the economic reopening process on Tuesday, June 16, joining the Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley, Finger Lakes, North Country, and Central New York, which advanced to Phase Three on Friday, June 12. In Phase Three, indoor dining and personal care businesses like nail salons and massage therapy spas can reopen with capacity restrictions and other safety measures. The Capital Region is expected to enter Phase Three on Wednesday, June 17. If the Mid-Hudson region stays on track, it will enter Phase Three on Tuesday, June 23.
How risky is the return of indoor dining? Pretty risky, experts say. Several public health researchers interviewed by the Asbury Park Press for a recent article say they’re not ready to eat indoors in a restaurant, whether or not their state allows it. While spacing tables farther apart does make the indoor environment safer, coronavirus spreads much more readily indoors, and even if patrons wear masks to the restaurant, it’s impossible to eat with one on. If in doubt, says Montclair University epidemiologist Stephanie Silvera, get an outside table: “Indoor is considered high risk,” she said. “Outdoor is a better option. While the issues with face coverings remain, if spatial distancing is possible between tables, and servers are wearing their face covering and washing their hands regularly, the risk is lower than indoor dining.” If you’re a restaurant owner weighing whether or how to reopen, Eater has a guide to some of the things you should be considering, and the challenges you’re likely to face.
The Food and Drug Administration on Monday revoked its emergency use authorization of hydroxychloroquine for treating COVID-19. President Trump has frequently touted its benefits, despite claims to the contrary by many scientists, and has claimed to use it himself.
Where are rural outbreaks happening? The Daily Yonder, a national news site focused on rural issues, crunched the data on rural counties across the nation, and found that the rural counties with the highest rates of new infections were home to large meatpacking plants, prisons, or nonwhite populations. An earlier analysis done by the Daily Yonder in late May found that rural counties with outbreaks in meatpacking plants had infection rates five times higher than the rest of rural America.
The data on food processing outbreaks used by the Daily Yonder, drawn from research on local news coverage by the Food and Environment Reporting Network, included only one outbreak for New York State—Green Empire Farms in Central New York—but Sullivan County health officials say there were outbreaks in local food processing plants earlier in the pandemic that have since been resolved. “We were seeing a high number of cases and growing numbers of positive cases in those workplaces,” but by working with local food processing businesses and state officials to ramp up testing and worker safety efforts, the outbreaks were brought under control, Sullivan County Public Health Director Nancy McGraw told The River last Friday. “Now it is almost down to zero, pretty much.”
Disability Rights New York, a watchdog organization that advocates on behalf of the disabled, filed a federal complaint in April alleging that New York State discriminated against people with disabilities by not providing group homes with sufficient amounts of masks, gowns, and other PPE, City & State reports.
LoHud.com has published an interactive map of confirmed cases and deaths by county, sourced from Johns Hopkins University and local and state agencies.
Announced by New York State on Monday and over the weekend:
- Gatherings of up to 25 are now allowed in Phase Three regions, Governor Cuomo announced Monday.
- Low-risk youth sports for Phase Three regions can begin on July 6.
- Special enrollment in New York’s Affordable Care Act insurance exchange, the Health Marketplace, has been extended until July 15.
- A new bill passed by the legislature and signed by Cuomo requires the New York State Department of Health to conduct a study on the impact of COVID-19 on minority communities in the state. Legislation has also been passed and signed that suspends the forfeiture of unemployment benefits during the pandemic and repeals the criminalization of wearing a mask in public.
LOWER HUDSON VALLEY
County coronavirus pages: Rockland, Westchester, Putnam
The Rockland County Executive’s Office announced the formation of a committee of public- and private-sector individuals to help guide businesses through the reopening process. The committee—which they’re apparently calling ROCK COMM—includes county executive Ed Day; Jeremy Schulman, the director of the Rockland Department of Economic Development and Tourism; Al Samuels, president and CEO of the Rockland Business Association; and a host of local business bigwigs. ROCK COMM will implement an initiative focusing on sustainable business retention and expansion that Day is calling R.O.A.R.R.S. (Rockland on A Road to Recovery & Stimulus).
Putnam County released guidelines for pools that are beginning to reopen as the weather warms. Groups will be limited to 10 people; six feet of separation is required, even in water; and masks must be worn when not in the water if distancing can’t be maintained.
County coronavirus pages: Orange, Dutchess, Ulster, Columbia
For the first time since mid-March, Ulster County had zero new COVID-19 cases over the last 24 hours, Executive Pat Ryan announced Monday. The county tested 512 people on Sunday, with none of them testing positive for the virus.
The Columbia County Department of Health will hold its next walkup clinic on Tuesday, June 16, from 9-11am outside of John L. Edwards elementary school (360 State Street, Hudson). Pre-registration is not required. The clinic will only conduct 50 tests, so arrive early.
Kingston will allow restaurants and stores to expand outside under its Dining and Retail Outdoor Expansion program, according to a city press release. The measure is being implemented to create more space for physical distancing. Businesses will be able to use parking spaces and other public areas but must contact the Mayor’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Food Bank of the Hudson Valley is holding a fundraiser featuring widely known magicians to raise money for hungry families affected by the pandemic. Hudson Valley’s Got Magic will be broadcast live on YouTube. Tickets are between $25-$45 and can be purchased at agm.wellattended.com/events/hudson-valleys-got-magic.
County coronavirus pages: Sullivan, Delaware, Greene, Schoharie
On Tuesday, June 30, the Margaretville Village Park will host a food giveaway for residents of the Delaware County towns of Middletown, Andes, Roxbury, Bovina, and surrounding hamlets. The giveaway is sponsored by Catskill Seasons, the Arkville Community Food Pantry, Delaware Opportunities, Sysco-Albany, and a coalition of local businesses and volunteers.
This month, The River will launch “Hudson Valley Remembers,” a new series that honors and memorializes area residents who died from COVID-19. If you’ve lost a friend or loved one to COVID-19 and would like us to feature them in this series, please contact Phillip Pantuso at email@example.com.
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 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.