Coronavirus Update, March 30, 2020

New York now has over 66,000 cases of the coronavirus, according to the State Department of Health. There are 2 confirmed cases of the virus in Schuyler County. In Tompkins County, there are 73 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of now. The Tompkins County Health Department says nearly 1400 COVID-19 tests have been administered locally, and nearly 1100 tests have come back negative — a big increase over the weekend as a large batch of test results were delivered following the increase in local testing. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced earlier Monday that public and private hospitals have agreed to a new plan where hospitals that are beginning to reach or exceed capacity can transfer patients to other hospitals that are less full. New York Hospitals have also agreed they will share staff, supplies and other resources on an as-needed basis.

On Monday the Navy ship USNS Comfort arrived in New York Harbor. The ship will bring some relief to New York City Hospitals by providing 1,000 hospital beds to treat people who are not infected with the coronavirus. Additionally, the first 1,000-bed temporary hospital at the Javits Convention Center is open as of Monday.

It was also announced over the weekend that New York would move its presidential primary date from April 28th to June 23rd. According to the Ithaca Times, the primary was moved to June, because that day is also Election Day for state legislative and congressional seats. Governor Cuomo noted in his press conference Saturday that the single date would allow for citizens to only have to come out and vote once, instead of multiple times.

New York Governor Cuomo has noted that based on projections, the height of coronavirus cases will likely hit in mid April. He announced Sunday that “New York State on PAUSE” has been extended to April 15. The ten point plan includes the directive that all non-essential workers must work from home, and everyone is required to maintain a 6-foot distance in public.

Meanwhile, President Trump announced yesterday that the federal government’s guidelines for social distancing would last until at least April 30, according to the New York Times. He previously had commented that he hoped the U.S. could go back to work by April 12.

As of Thursday, April 2, at midnight, all intercity bus service between Ithaca and New York City will be suspended indefinitely by all companies that offer services on this route. New York City emerging as the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic was the deciding factor for the suspension of service. 

The Ithaca Times reports that Mayor Svante Myrick announced via Twitter on Thursday that the bus companies had voluntarily suspended the service.  Those companies include Greyhound, Ourbus, CoachUSA, Shortline, Flixbus among others. 

Cornell’s alumni reunion is being reimagined this year instead of cancelled, according to the Cornell Sun.  The University announced that the weekend of June 5 will now be an online get together for all Cornell alumni. Details about the online format are still being worked out.

Reunion weekend is a very popular event at Cornell -- last year a record breaking 6000 alumni attended. In the past the reunion has had live performances, parades and specific class events. Last year the Alumni Reunion featured Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg on a video message sending good wishes to fellow Cornellians at her 65th reunion.

Cornell’s Coronavirus updates webpage reported that Cornell has postponed 2020 Commencement indefinitely but is holding out hope that Homecoming will be held in the Fall. 

Local food pantries are adjusting hours and practices, doing their best to stay open and keep Ithacans fed during the COVID-19 crisis, reports the Ithaca Voice.

St. John's Community Service, at 618 W. State St, Ithaca is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. everyday. Ithaca Kitchen Cupboard, at 150 N. Albany Street is open every Monday through Thursday from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Tompkins Community Action will not open for the public but in order to ensure that families and individuals have access to their food resources, they request that Food Pantry customers in Tompkins County please call (607) 273-8816 to make an appointment to pick up food at 701 Spencer Rd. in Ithaca.   Appointments will be created three times per week: Tuesdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and again on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Loaves and Fishes will continue their free meal service Monday through Friday. Lunch is Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Dinner is Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. They are now also serving freshly prepared meals-to-go, from the front courtyard of St. John's Episcopal Church, on the corner of Buffalo and N. Cayuga Streets.

Contributing writing by WRFI News volunteers Anna Lamb, Maureen Gilroy, and Mark Klohmann