New York Governor Cuomo has announced that all New Yorkers will be required to wear a mask or face covering when they go out in public, in situations where social distancing can’t be honored. An executive order for the rule will officially go into effect this Friday.
The Governor also announced at his daily press conference that New York will start to conduct antibody tests to determine if aa person has immunity to COVID-19. Frontline health care workers, first responders, and other essential workers will take priority. The state is currently able to test 2,000 people per day, and the state will ask the FDA for approval to use a finger prick method to test 100,000 people per day.
It was also announced Wednesday by the Governor that SUNY and CUNY schools are creating personal protective equipment, or PPE, with 3D printers, to help healthcare workers across New York.
New York State has nearly 214,000 cases of the novel coronavirus, according to the state department of health. There are 9 confirmed cases of the virus in Schuyler County, and 8 of those cases have recovered according to the Schuyler county health department. In Tompkins County, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 is up to 118. According to the Tompkins county health department, 90 of those cases have since seen resolved symptoms.
The leader of the World Health Organization, or W.H.O., has expressed his dismay over President Trump’s decision to cut off US payments to the group. America’s contributions to the organization make up over $400 million, which is about 10 percent of the W.H.O.’s budget. They are the organization’s biggest donor. According to the New York Times, Trump’s action was quickly condemned by leaders across the globe. The President yesterday accused the W.H.O. of quote “severely mismanaging and covering up” unquote the spread of COVID-19 in China.
Tompkins county does not plan to extend code blue housing policies, according to the Ithaca Times. The code blue program runs from November until April fifteenth and requires the county to provide housing for the homeless when temperatures fall below freezing.
Many advocates for the homeless community are worried that the county’s new policy will push homeless people back onto the streets. This could pose a danger to the homeless who may not be able to practice social distancing or have access to bathrooms.
Not extending the program will displace roughly thirty people in the county, although they will still be eligible to apply for temporary housing through the Department of Social Services, or DSS. The agency will relax some of its regulations in order to encourage people to apply who might not normally qualify or who are resistant to seeking housing.
Incodema, an Ithaca-based company, has developed a sanitize-able face shield that can be used more than once. The product is made using stainless steel, and can be completely sterilized, WSYR-TV reports.
Incodema president Illa Burbank said that her company came up with the design after Cayuga Medical Center reached out and said that they were having trouble finding enough face shields for its healthcare workers.
Burbank added that her company is making the face shield design software available to manufacturers for free on its website.
The company sent fifty shields with medical professionals who went to New York City from the Cayuga Medical Center last week, and they have also made their design open to the public on their website for other manufacturers to help make the product.
During National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, which began on Sunday, residents of Tompkins County are asked to recognize the contributions of dispatchers and communications experts who connect the public to emergency service personnel.
Tompkins Weekly reports that, with the COVID-19 crisis, both emergency medical services, or EMS providers and 911 communications personnel express that there is a new normal when it comes to their regular operations.
The Cayuga Heights Fire Department Fire chief says that his rescue trucks used to respond to emergency calls with 3 to 4 people on board. But, now, in order to minimize contact to fire department workers, only two people respond to an emergency. And, only one of those people makes patient contact. Accordingly, the Ithaca Fire Department has also changed its shifts to limit the interaction between groups.
Susan Flynn, paramedic supervisor at Bangs Ambulance, says that her company is having a challenging time maintaining their PPE supplies. Bangs Ambulance owner Tim Bangs adds that some local stores are putting aside some cleaning supplies that they need, so that shoppers do not deplete the items before Bangs can purchase them.
New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand have announced that six airports in the Southern Tier would receive millions of dollars in federal funding amid the pandemic. The government grants are part of a $411-million federal funding package to help the nation’s aviation hubs crippled by the drop in airport traffic following the spread of the virus.
The Ithaca Journal reports that the Ithaca Tompkins International Airport will receive just over $1.7 million dollars in funding from the Federal Aviation Administration.
The Federal dollars are meant to support airport operations and replace lost revenue from the decline in passenger traffic and other business due to the coronavirus public health emergency.
Mike Hall is the Director of the Ithaca Tompkins Airport. He told the Ithaca Journal that there are no immediate plans for the Federal funds but indicated that they could be targeted towards any type of airport-based project.
The Tompkins Women’s Opportunity Center, or WOC, is moving its resources online in an effort to continue to provide services to its clients during the pandemic. The WOC provides employment opportunities and training to vulnerable women in Tompkins county.
The Cornell Daily Sun reports that the center had been planning to move its resources online, but the COVID-19 pandemic has caused them to speed up the process.
Providing services to their clients has been challenging in the current crisis. Many of the WOC’s clients have young children at home, making it difficult for them to look for jobs and focus on their career goals.
Most of the funding for the center is provided by the New York State Department of Labor. However, the money is provided with the condition that the center serves a minimum number of clients per week. In addition, the center relies on the Mary Durham Boutique, a second hand clothing store that gives all of its profit to the center. The Boutique is currently closed as it is non-essential.
Despite the budget strains, the center thinks the change to an online platform could be positive. Co-executive director Ryan Harriot says that her agency will mail out materials to clients who do not have computer access.
Anyone who needs a break from news about the COVID-19 outbreak can enjoy a instrumental concert coming up this Friday, April 17 at 7 pm.
The Odessa File reports that the Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes, or OSFL, will present a Facebook Live mini concert, featuring harpist Rosanna Moore.
Also performing in the concert will be percussionist Trevor Bartlett. He and Moore were initially scheduled to perform a chamber music concert called “Sticks and Strings” on April 10 in Corning.
More Facebook Live concerts by OSFL musicians will take place in upcoming weeks. To find out more, listeners can follow the OSFL at their website, OSFL.org, or on facebook, at facebook.com/theOSFL.
Contributing writing by WRFI News volunteers Esther Racoosin and Jon Donville, and WRFI News Director Michayla Savitt
Note: a previous version of this report incorrectly indicated that that all New Yorkers will be required to wear a mask or face covering when they go out in public, or in situations where social distancing can’t be honored. The report now reflects the correct New York State mandate.