New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that  “New York State on PAUSE” will remain in effect until at least May 15, according to the Albany Times Union. Schools and non-essential businesses will remain closed for a month longer.

While the governor did cite data showing that the height of the pandemic may have passed several days ago, he reminds people that the measures are still important to prevent the further spread of the disease, saying, “We don’t know how many people have been infected or are getting infected. We only know how many people walk into a hospital or get tested in a nursing home.”

According to the Governor, the current rate of infection is less than 1%, but it is important to keep it from increasing again, which would spur an increase in hospitalizations. He has urged residents to continue to take measures to control the spread of the disease, including washing hands, practicing social distancing, using hand sanitizer, and wearing face masks.

As of today New York State has over 222,000 cases of the novel coronavirus, according to the state department of health. There are no new confirmed cases of the virus in Schuyler County, and according to health department officials the caseload stands at 9, with 8 cases having recovered. In Tompkins County, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 is up to 119, one more than yesterday. According to the Tompkins county health department, 93 of those cases have since seen resolved symptoms. 2600 people have been tested in total.

The Tompkins County Health Department has announced that an employee at the Lansing Mirabito Convenience Store at 32 Peruville Road is confirmed to have the novel coronavirus. The public may have been exposed to this employee during two shifts: Thursday, April 9, 8:45 AM–1:30 PM, and Friday, April 10, 2:00 PM–6:30 PM.

The TCHD advises that anyone who went inside the store during the dates and times to get tested at the Cayuga Health Sampling Site located at The Shops at Ithaca Mall parking lot,, self-quarantine in your home for 14 days from the last date you were inside the Convenience Store, and monitor your health for any symptoms of cough, fever, and shortness of breath.

The health department notes that If you only pumped gas or went to the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru at the Lansing Mirabito you do not need to seek testing. According to the press release, The Lansing Mirabito Convenience Store is currently closed, undergoing thorough disinfecting measures.

Visit cayugahealth.org or call the Cayuga Health Call Center at 607-319-5708 for more information about getting tested for COVID-19.

City of Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick says that the state left its localities underfunded in its yearly budget. 

The $ 177 million dollar budget passed by the state legislature on April 1st in Albany failed to sufficiently support Ithaca and other localities in the state.  The funding to cities like Ithaca is called Aid and Incentives to Municipalities, or AIM.  According to the Cornell Daily Sun, Myrick says that amount has hardly increased over the last two decades.

In fiscal year 2020-2021, the City of Ithaca will receive just over $ 2.6 million dollars in state AIM funding.  This amount is exactly the same that the city received last year. 

Myrick points out that because the city is dependent on revenue from sales and property taxes the effect of the COVID-19 epidemic would be catastrophic for the city budget.  The mayor says that the city will lose 4 to 13 million dollars in revenue this year, amounting to up to 18 percent of the city’s annual budget of $ 70 million dollars.

The state’s lack of increase in AIM funding means that the city cannot adequately support social services programming, unemployment support or relief for small businesses.  But, Mayor Myrick adds that if the state receives more relief funding from the Federal government, he believes it would be passed on to municipalities.

Local business groups, Tompkins County, the City of Ithaca and Cornell University have established a microloan program to assist small businesses. This comes amidst the announcement that Paycheck Protection Program, intended to help small businesses keep workers on their payrolls, has run out of money, according to the New York Times.

The Ithaca Voice reports that the Ithaca/Tompkins County COVID-19 Small Business Resilience Fund, will extend microloans for small businesses. The fund will be administered by Alternatives Federal Credit Union, or AFCU, and has been capitalized at $390,000 dollars.

Small local businesses can apply for up to $5,000 of a zero-interest, 18-month loan.  The amount will be forgiven for businesses open and in operation on December 1st, 2020.  In order to apply for the loan, businesses have to fulfill eligibility requirements posted on the City of Ithaca’s website for COVID-19 business resources.

At the same time that the loan program has been rolled out, Mayor Svante Myrick has announced that he is vowing to donate 10% of his salary to the City of Ithaca.  He notes that the city is projecting a huge revenue shortfall due to the lack of sales at restaurants, bars and hotels.  

Myrick says that city departments would be asked to devise amended budgets and contingency plans in the event that the Federal government would not be coming through with backup funding for municipalities hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Schuyler County legislature has voted unanimously to furlough up to 41 county employees, the Observer-Review reports. The lawmaking body made the decision during a recent meeting held via Zoom.

County administrator Tim O’Hearn says that the furlough is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the county budget.  He predicts that for the rest of the year, the county would collect $1-$2 million fewer dollars in sales tax.

In addition to the loss of sales tax, O’Hearn told the legislature that the state would be reimbursing the county 15% less than usual for mandated expenses. 

The 41 employees represent about 13 percent of the total number of county employees.   O’Hearn notes that the combined salaries of those workers would save the county about $100,000 per month.

O’Hearn details that the furloughs are not layoffs.  The county will continue to pay health insurance for the employees, and they will be able to accrue time benefits.  The furloughed employees would be eligible for unemployment insurance and the county intends to hire them back in the future.

The New York State Attorney General is reminding residents that it’s illegal for landlords to threaten eviction for tenants who are unable to pay rent due to effects of the ongoing pandemic. Attorney General Letitia James says that no New Yorker should live in fear of having their home taken away from them at a time of extreme duress. 

According to the office of the attorney general, no county sheriff, city marshal or constable can currently enforce an eviction warrant. If a New York State Sheriff attempts to evict you, you should contact your sheriff’s office and then your County office’s general number to report a violation of the Governor’s Executive Order. And if your landlord attempts to evict you themselves — which is already currently illegal in New York State -- Phone 911 and show the officer ID, lease or a public utility bill with your name and address on it. 

If you believe you have been a victim of harassment or discrimination of this kind, you can contact the Office of the Attorney General Civil Rights bureau by emailing civil.rights@ag.ny.gov or calling 800-771-7755.

Contributing writing by WRFI News Volunteers Ed von Aderkas, Esther Racoosin, and News Intern Christian Maitre