It was announced Monday that the state mandate New York on PAUSE is now extended through April 29. Schools and non-essential businesses will remain closed through that date.

Schools across Tompkins County were previously ordered to be closed through April 13. In a letter  from Ithaca City School District Superintendent Luvelle Brown to the community last week, ICSD would begin “Distance Learning 2.0” if an extended closure were announced. With the Governor’s new extension in place, the new phase with virtual classes and assignments will initiate on April 13th. It was also announced today that the New York State Education Department’s Board of Regents would cancel exams for schools state-wide. More information from the New York State Education Department is expected to provide more information to the public Tuesday about the exams.

Additionally, it was announced Sunday by New York Governor Cuomo that the federal government is sending around 1000 people to support New York’s overwhelmed hospital systems. Doctors, nurses, respiratory technicians and therapists are being sent to the state.

New York State now has over 130,000 cases of the novel coronavirus, according to the state department of health. There are 5 confirmed cases of the virus in Schuyler County. In Tompkins County, there are 102 confirmed cases of COVID-19. According to the county health department, 66 of those cases have since seen resolved symptoms. In total, Tompkins County has conducted nearly 2000 tests for the virus.

The Tompkins County Health Department reported Sunday that an Ithaca Wegmans employee who works in the coffee shop is confirmed to have COVID-19. According to the press release, that person worked multiple shifts during the past couple of weeks. The Coffee Shop at Wegmans is currently closed, and the area has been disinfected. The press release notes that additional disinfectant measures are being taken including distributing masks, temperature checks, and screening for other symptoms prior to each shift. Any community member who has been within 6 feet of any employee of the Wegmans Coffee Shop between Monday, March 23 and Saturday, April 4th is asked to take precautionary steps.

Those include: getting tested at the Cayuga Health Sampling site at shops at Ithaca Mall, and self-quarantining in your home for two weeks from the last time you were in close contact with Wegmans Coffee shop. Additional steps include monitoring yourself for symptoms of COVID-19 including cough, fever, and shortness of breath. More information on getting tested can be found online cayugahealth.org/ or by calling the Cayuga Health Registration Line at 607-319-5708.

Last Friday's executive order from Gov. Cuomo gives the state authority to collect ventilators and other supplies related to treating COVID-19 from hospitals all over New York State. The supplies would then be transported to hospitals in greatest need. WSKG reports that some upstate legislators have objected to Cuomo's order, since at this time such a move would transfer ventilators from upstate hospitals to those in the New York City area.

Congressman Tom Reed called the move “reckless and dangerous” and said he would be asking Cuomo to reconsider the order. He also commented that he was not informed before Cuomo announced the policy at his daily press conference. Several other Republican state legislators have also objected to the order.

In his response to the legislators' objections, the governor’s spokesman Rich Azzopardi repeated Gov. Cuomo's insistence that policies must view the pandemic as affecting the state as a whole, not just as a downstate or upstate issue.

The Cayuga Medical Center Foundation has launched a website to coordinate donations and volunteers related to the COVID-19 crisis, reports The Ithaca Times.  The website can be found at cayugahealthsystem.org/how-to-help. The site lists needed items, where to drop off donations, how to contribute to their COVID-19 Response FUND, and volunteer opportunities.  

Items needed range from home-made masks to technology and food for health care workers at the Cayuga Health sites, which include Schuyler Hospital and Cayuga Medical Center. There is also a video on making medical masks.  Specific requirements for fresh food donations are listed under the “Other Donations” category on the website. The site also gives drop-off locations in both Schuyler and Tompkins Counties . Again, that website is cayugahealthsystem.org/how-to-help.

People are reportedly trying to scam area homeowners into a new home repair grant offer, according to The Schuyler County Office for the Aging and the County Attorney’s Office. The offices released a joint press release over the weekend warning local seniors to look out for potential homeowner scams arising from the novel coronavirus stimulus bill.

According to the release, older adults have received a postcard mailing addressed to ‘resident’ from the National Residential Improvement Association, or NRIA. Enclosed in the official-looking postcard was an offer to help Seniors get a grant to repair their home. According to New York State, this is a scam -- NRIA is not a government program, and the organization currently does not have a valid business license.

Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman says there are no reports of postcards being sent to Schuyler County residents. However, the county intends to be proactive, given state and national reports of scams following the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. If you believe you’ve been a victim of a scam, The National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721, or local law enforcement.

Contributing writing by WRFI News Volunteer Joanne Izbicki