It was announced Tuesday by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that the State Department of Health has developed a test that would help determine whether state residents are developing immunity to the COVID-19 virus. This could have impacts on when an individual could possibly return to the workplace or classroom.

Additionally, the Governor announced that residents enrolled in private student loans could see some relief. That includes: 90 days of deferred monthly payments, waived late fees, no negative reporting to credit agencies, and enrolling eligible borrowers in an available long-term assistance program. This comes following the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which gives relief to loans owned by the federal government. More information can be found at https://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumers.

It was also announced Tuesday that New York will be investing in private companies to increase the scale, and capacity of COVID-19 testing. 

As of Tuesday, New York State has nearly 139,000 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 103 confirmed cases of COVID-19. According to the county health department, 69 of those cases have since seen resolved symptoms. In total, Tompkins County has conducted 2100 tests for the virus.

Following the announcement Monday that New York would cancel state regents exams this academic year, state education officials have noted that graduation requirements will not be negatively impacted by the cancellation of the tests. The announcement follows Governor Cuomo’s memo that public schools in the state would not reopen until at least April 29. 

The Buffalo News reports that the Regents exams were slated to take place in June.  Normally, students are required to pass five Regents exams and take a total of 22 credit hours of coursework to get a Regents diploma before graduating.

The Albany Times-Union reports that now, for students to qualify for a Regent exam exemption, students must pass a course in that subject area during the school year. State education officials made the adjustment in a memorandum today. A decision on the August exams hasn’t been made yet. However, students who make up a failed course over the summer and receive credit for the class will also be exempt from the August test in that subject area.

The public is invited to attend, while maintaining a social distance, a special send-off event for health care workers from Cayuga Health Systems that are headed to New York City –– the epicenter for the COVID-19 crisis in the state. NYC hospitals have become increasingly overwhelmed in past weeks as some positive coronavirus cases require intensive care.

Wednesday morning volunteers will depart to New York city to provide needed support for New York-Presbyterian Hospital, according to the Ithaca Voice. Cayuga Health is encouraging community members to park cars along the route the staff buses will be traveling to show support for those volunteering.

Anyone interested in participating is advised to continue practicing proper social distancing by remaining at least 6-10 feet from others as they cheer and support the healthcare employees along the route. Cars should begin parking at 8:00 a.m. The bus departs at 8:30 a.m.

Dr. Martin Stallone from Cayuga Health will lead a brief program that will include Dr. Martha Pollack, President of Cornell University via Zoom call, Congressman Tom Reed, and Assemblyperson Barbara Lifton. This will be live-streamed on the Cayuga Medical Center Facebook page.

Listeners can visit cayugahealthsystem.org to print out to hold up a sign in support of the medical professionals.

Organizers of the Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance have announced that the four-day event will be held as scheduled, Finger Lakes 1.com reports.

The festival, coming up on its 30th year, is slated for Thursday July 16th through Sunday, July 19th.   An email statement by the organizers acknowledges that, given the current COVID-19 pandemic, they are doing what they can to keep safe. The statement adds that the organization is doing its best to keep its patrons apprised of festival plans.

Organizers write that GrassRoots is going to share resources that will support their communities and offer live streaming to their musicians through these trying times.  They did not offer further information about preparations for the festival.

Visit www.grassrootsfest.org for more information.

TCAT has extended its no-fare policy to May 23rd - the end of the company’s spring service period - in an effort to further reduce spread of COVID-19. 

The policy first went into effect March 20 and was set to expire this Thursday, April 9.  Each bus has a 20-rider limit and, while in transit, riders are asked to sit as far apart as possible. The zero-fare policy eliminates the need for riders to put their hands on the farebox, and according to the company, aims to provide financial relief to riders who are struggling during the crisis. TCAT is also asking people to ride the bus if they are essential workers or if they need to travel to pick up food and medicine.

Contributing writing by WRFI News Volunteers Esther Racoosin and Anna Lamb