On Monday, New York Governor Cuomo hosted a multi-state conference call to announce the creation of a council that will work to restore the economy and bolster jobs in the Northeast amid the pandemic. Along with Governor Cuomo, the council includes Governors of New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Rhode Island.

According to the New York Times, the announcement followed Trump’s tweet that re-opening the economy is up to the president, not the individual states. The six states make up a group where each state has one health expert, one economic development expert, along with the respective Chief of Staff from each state, according to the Governor’s press office. Over on the West Coast, Washington, Oregon, and California’s governors also announced a joint approach to reopening their economy that is dubbed the “Western States Pact”.

It was announced over the weekend by the Tompkins County Health Department that another COVID-19 patient transported from New York City has passed away. According to the Ithaca Times, the person was the second of two patients who were transferred to Cayuga Medical Center in the last week. The other patient passed away last week, as announced by Cayuga Health system Friday morning. These are the first two victims to die from the virus in Tompkins County.

As of Monday New York State has over 195,000 cases of the novel coronavirus, according to the state department of health. There are 9 confirmed cases of the virus in Schuyler County, and eight of those cases have recovered according to the Odessa File. In Tompkins County, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 stands at 113. According to the county health department, 84 of those cases have since seen resolved symptoms. In total, Tompkins County has conducted over 2400 tests for the virus.

The Cayuga Health novel coronavirus Sampling Site was closed today due to the predicted inclement weather. It will reopen tomorrow 10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. Call Cayuga Health Registration Line at 607-319-5708, or go online to cayugahealthsystem.org.

Tompkins Cortland Community College, or TC3, has announced it will not celebrate this year’s Commencement on May 21 due to the ongoing pandemic. According to a press release, the school has tentative plans to honor the class of 2020 this August, if quote “conditions allow” unquote. TC3 also announced its intent to recognize graduates on the original planned date on the web.

In order to limit the spread of coronavirus, Tompkins County Health Director Frank Kruppa recommends the closure of all recreational facilities where equipment is shared, according to the Ithaca Voice. Such facilities include playgrounds, basketball courts, tennis courts, pickleball courts, soccer fields or any location where social distancing cannot be maintained. Certain measures to discourage public gatherings in city parks have already been implemented by the City of Ithaca, including removing basketball hoops and closing the skatepark. 

Kruppa also recommends that signs be placed on trails and in parks to emphasize the importance of proper social distancing - keeping at least a 6 foot distance, or two arm-lengths apart. 

Getting outdoors and staying active helps to reduce stress and anxiety. The emphasis is on finding activities a person can enjoy, such as walking, gardening, riding a bike, while protecting themselves and their household through social distancing.

Three Cornell students have created a website to help foster connections between people during the coronavirus quarantine, according to the Cornell Chronicle.

“Quarantine Buddy” was created after the founders recognized that people in isolation are feeling lonely and longing for human interaction. More than 600 people have already signed up on the site.

To join, a person logs into the website, answers a few questions about what they have been doing during their isolation and what sort of connections they are looking for. The website, however, does not just pair people with similar interests, but also uses an algorithm that identifies diversity and differences so that people can experience new interests and insights. 

Even without coronavirus, there is a growing trend of people in our society who are feeling more and more isolated. For this reason, the founders see a future for Quarantine Buddy even after the pandemic ends. 

A youth robotics team in Watkins Glen is using their Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math skills to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Odessa File. The 5-member team, called Mechanical Meltdown, is utilizing their 3D printer to make protective face shields for hospital workers. The effort is part of a project organized by volunteers at Ithaca Generator. 

Mechanical Meltdown is a member of the Excelsior FIRST Tech Challenge community, which includes robotics teams from schools all across New York state. Mechanical Meltdown qualified for this year’s Detroit World Championship, but was unable to attend due cancellations related to COVID-19. 

So far, the team has created 300 face shields that have been sent to hospitals on the front line  in New York City. They plan to keep printing the face shields as long as a shortage exists.

Contributing writing by WRFI News Volunteer Susan Fortson.