Coronavirus Update, March 24, 2020

Tompkins County and Cayuga Health have opened a new COVID-19 testing center, according to the Ithaca Times. The center is located in portable structures in the parking lot of The Shops at Ithaca Mall. It is replacing the COVID-19 testing center on Craft Road.

Anyone can pre-register for testing at or by calling (607) 319-5708. During the pre-registration process, patients will be asked two questions: 1. Have they recently experienced a fever, cough, shortness of breath, or body aches, and 2. have they been in the same room with someone confirmed positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days. Eligibility for testing is based on the answers provided.

Any patient tested must go directly home and remain in mandatory self-isolation until the results arrive, currently about a week. 

The new testing center is open from 10:00-3:00 Monday-Friday, starting today. Testing is free. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced during his daily press conference Tuesday that the rate of COVID-19 infections in the state is increasing rapidly.  As a result, the state must procure as many as 140,000 total hospital beds, the Albany Times Union reports.

The Governor says that the number of confirmed cases totaled just over 25,000 Tuesday, an increase of 4700 since Monday.  The rate of increase is 10 times that of California and Washington states. As of today, there have been 210 deaths in New York due to Coronavirus.

Cuomo addressed the press at the Javits Convention Center in New York City, part of which is being converted into a hospital. New York City hospitals are being ordered by Cuomo to increase their capacity by 50 percent, as the current rate of infection may lead to the need to treat tens of thousands of people.

There are 18 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tompkins county. There are no confirmed cases of the virus in Schuyler County.

A group of Schuyler County leaders from the legislative and business community have formed an Economic Recovery Cabinet, or ERC.  The group seeks to support businesses in Schuyler County during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

In an editorial penned by members of the ERC in the Odessa File, members of the group assert that the ERC will assist businesses facing critical decisions during the outbreak.  Some of those concerns relate to employee assistance and retention, profitability and business continuance. 

Members of the ERC are Schuyler County legislative chairman Carl Blowers, county administrator Tim O’Hearn, Watkins Glen area Chamber of Commerce Executive director Rebekah Carroll, Seneca Wine Trail executive Director Brittany Gibson, and the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development. 

The Economic Recovery Cabinet states that it will provide assistance on how to access local, state and federal resources, set up virtual meetings, and help move businesses to online platforms, amongst other supports.

Schuyler business owners can call Judy McKinney Cherry at 607-535-6861 for more information.

The Tompkins County Department of Motor Vehicles is currently closed to the public. Last week Governor Cuomo extended the closure of State offices until April 19, including all DMVs. Tompkins Weekly reports that as a result, New Yorkers whose drivers licenses, non-driver IDs, and vehicle registrations are set to expire before April 19 will continue to be valid until April 19. Temporary registration documents are also valid until that date.

The DMV states on its website that road tests are currently suspended, the Traffic Violation Bureau is adjourned, and all appointments are cancelled. The DMV encourages the public to renew licenses and other documents online at  However, the department cautions that some transactions and services might be delayed because of the ongoing COVID-19 emergency.

Collegetown Bagels has announced that its City Center location on East State Street will become a community kitchen offering food on a  “pay-what-you-can” basis, according to Ithaca Times. 

In partnership with the World Central Kitchen, the initiative is designed to help people who otherwise might not be able to afford food by offering pre-packaged soups, salads, sandwiches and entrees. Ithacans can also utilize a “pay-it-forward” option when purchasing their own meal.

There is a new virtual “Ithaca Tip-Jar” being organized so patrons can support local customer service industry businesses that have closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Ithaca Voice reports.

Matthew Kopel, a Cornell employee who used to work in the customer service industry, set up the virtual tip jar to assist his friends who are suffering from the lack of income due to business closures.

Kopel set up the tip jar based on a model that was started in Pittsburgh.  Hundreds of workers have posted to the tip jar list and the document is constantly being updated.

In more New York State News,

New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office has set up a hotline to combat Coronavirus-related hate crimes and xenophobic rhetoric.

A press release from the AG says that the hotline comes as the state has seen increasing reports of harassment of Asian Americans due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In a statement, James affirms that all victims of discriminatory actions due to the pandemic should contact her office.  She adds that the AG is working with local law enforcement to combat hate crimes.

The Attorney General office confirms that numerous reports of hate crimes or harassment against Asian Americans has been increasing in recent weeks.  U.S. Representative Grace Meng, Democrat of New York’s 6th District including Queens, says that she has called on public officials such as the President to stop using derogatory language that demonizes Asian Americans.

Contributing writing by Esther Racoosin, Susan Fortson, and Joanne Izbicki.