Coronavirus Update, April 3, 2020

New York now has over 102,000 cases of the novel coronavirus, according to the state department of health. There are 4 confirmed cases of the virus in Schuyler County. In Tompkins County, there are 93 confirmed cases of COVID-19. According to the county health department, 51 of those cases have since seen resolved symptoms. In total, Tompkins County has conducted over 1600 tests for the virus.

Amidst rising cases of the virus, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that he’s approved an order to redistribute ventilators from hospitals with lower need to those that have higher cases of COVID-19. According to the New York Times, Cuomo has called on other U.S. states who haven’t been hit in full force to donate both equipment and personnel to New York. 

Additionally, the Governor gained permission yesterday for the 2500-bed emergency hospital in the Javits Convention Center to accept patients afflicted with the novel coronavirus. The Manhattan hospital operated by the military was first intended for people without virus, but New York City’s increasing surge of COVID-19 cases has changed that.

Local support for rent suspensions in Ithaca is continuing to grow, according to the Ithaca Times.

During Wednesday’s Common Council meeting, the City of Ithaca endorsed a resolution urging state legislators to address the need for rent relief for tenants and landlords who have encountered economic hardship due to COVID-19. They are calling on state representatives to support legislation that would suspend residential and small business rent payments for 90 days, as well as suspend mortgage payments for property owners facing hardship as a result of the non-payment. 

Local tenant advocates are calling on the Common Council and Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick to enact city-wide rent suspensions. Landlord advocates want the suspensions to only focus on tenants who have lost income as a direct result of COVID-19. However, Mayor Myrick says rent suspension can only be done at the state or federal level. 

Cornell’s Faculty Senate has voted to reject Universal S/U -- satisfactory/unsatisfactory, a form of pass fail grading, as the spring semester grading policy. According to the Cornell Daily Sun, the clear split in the faculty vote reflects the general tension between supporters and critics of the grading policy. Courses graded S/U do not factor into GPA, but will count toward graduation requirements. Faculty members have expressed questions and concerns regarding student agency, the effect on graduate school admissions, employer requirements and the needs of low-income students.

Two student advocacy groups have joined the movement - Big Red Pass favors one universal grading policy and Big Red Choice favors student choice. It is unclear when the administration will announce their final decision. 

Classes at Cornell University, which were suspended three weeks ago following the outbreak of COVID-19, resume on Monday. 

The Ithaca Farmers Market will hold its grand opening for its spring season, but with some changes. According to the Ithaca voice, the market is permitted to open as the Governor’s executive order lists farmers markets as “essential businesses”. However, the market will be taking some precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Namely, the pavilion’s vendor capacity has been reduced to 40 down from a total capacity of 88 vendors.
The list of vendors will be different too: leather workers and potters will not be included, as they are not listed as essential services. Executive Director Becca Rimmel said, “it was hard to tell our vendors that not everyone could come, but it was the right thing to do for everybody.”

The market will continue to sell the same local produce, wine, cheese, cider and other food products that it has in previous years. However, eating on premises is not allowed during the outbreak, so all food will be packaged to go.

The hours of operation have been restricted to 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Furthermore, to avoid crowds, the market restricts access to one person per household, and shoppers are being asked to leave a 6-feet space between them and the next person. The Farmer’s Market is located at 545 3rd St, Ithaca.

A local organization has created an Emergency Arts Relief Fund to help artists in the area hit hard by the loss of income due to the outbreak of COVID 19. The Community Arts Partnership says that they are able to offer awards of 50 to 250 dollars to Tompkins County artists who have experienced lost income from the postponement and cancellation of events or performances. According to the community announcement on the Ithaca Voice, the organization was able to fund this due to the donation of $1800 from four anonymous donors. The full guidelines for eligibility as well as the application form can be found on their website,

Contributing writing by WRFI News Volunteers Ed von Aderkas and Susan Fortson