Coronavirus Upate, April 14, 2020

As of Tuesday New York State has over 202,000 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 is up to 116. According to the county health department, 87 of those cases have since seen resolved symptoms. In total, Tompkins County has conducted over 2500 tests for the virus.

At New York Governor Cuomo’s daily press briefing Tuesday, he spoke to some indications that measures to contain the virus are working. The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals has dropped by one percent, the first decline since the virus first broke out. Additionally, the total amount of people who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 in the state has only increased a few percent a day in the last few days. According to the New York Times, the Governor said this morning that he believes the state has reached the apex of the virus.

Congressman Tom Reed, who represents New York’s 23rd District, told the media on a call earlier Tuesday that even if the federal government decides to open activities across the U.S., states have the right to open businesses when they so choose.

Rep. Reed’s comment comes following growing tension between New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and President Trump. According to WSKG, the President has stated that the decision he makes about reopening America’s economy should overpower any state’s decision. He has backed off since then, and says he will work with Governors. During the Governor’s briefing Tuesday, Cuomo said that he won’t fight with Trump amid a pandemic.

Greenstar’s DeWitt Mall store, located at 215 Cayuga Street, is temporarily closing, according to the Ithaca Times. The popular downtown cafe and grocery co-op has been heavily impacted by a drop in sales due to social distancing efforts related to coronavirus.

Normally open every day, the location heavily relies on foot traffic, employees and customers of neighboring businesses, tourism, and sales revenue from their prepared foods section. General Manager Brandon Kane released a statement confirming that the decision is temporary. Although they do plan to reopen, the date is unknown, depending on how the pandemic  continues to unfold. 

This decision does not impact Greenstar’s other two locations on West End and in Collegetown. Greenstar is partnered with Instacart and is creating a curbside pickup service at their new location opening next month at 770 Cascadilla Street. 

Buffalo Street Books needs to raise $25,000 in order to reopen after the COVID-19 crisis ends, according to the Ithaca Voice. 

Buffalo Street Books has faced adversity in the past, but had a successful year in 2019, just prior to the pandemic. The success was attributed to an increase in sales and community involvement. State mandates to temporarily cease business operations due to COVID-19 has hurt independent book sellers. 

The independent book store has started a GoFundMe campaign to help raise the funds. The money will be used to pay for rent, payroll, bills from publishers, and outstanding loans.

Currently, Buffalo Street Books website provides e-books and audiobooks on new titles. Additionally, they hope to soon launch a new website that will enable them to sell books online. 

US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has announced legislation aimed to provide loan relief to farmers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Relief for America’s Small Farmers Act would give leeway to loan borrowers from the USDA’s Farm Services Agency, and would provide up to $250,000 in relief.

Of the multi-trillion dollar CARES Act signed into law last month, 9.5 billion dollars in emergency funding for the agricultural sector was accounted for. Gillibrand says the roll-out of relief has been slow, and Senator Chuck Chuck Schumer has penned a letter to USDA Secretary urging the federal government to immediately release money to the farmers.

According to the Times-Union, 39,000 farmers across the nation would be eligible under the new law. If passed, the Relief for America’s Small Farmers Act would allow for a one-year window that farmers can apply for loan forgiveness.

Contributing writing by WRFI News Volunteer Susan Fortson