Coronavirus Update, April 29, 2020

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that 35 counties have met the requirements to resume elective outpatient treatments. Tompkins and Schuyler Counties are among those facilities that will be able to resume elective procedures. According to the Ithaca Voice, Cayuga Medical Center will resume elective surgeries beginning May 4, and Schuyler Hospital will resume the week of May 12.

The Governor also announced that the state is conducting an average of 30,000 tests for COVID-19 a day. This comes following his announcement last week that New York would work with the federal government to double the state’s testing capacity from 20,000 tests a day to 40,000 tests a day over the following weeks.

As of today New York State has over 299,000 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 all cases having recovered. 439 people have been tested in total. In Tompkins County, there are now 132 confirmed cases of COVID-19. According to the Tompkins county health department,  people are currently hospitalized for COVID-19. 99 of the positive cases have seen resolved symptoms, and nearly 3400 people have been tested in total.

It was announced Wednesday that due to predicted inclement weather with high winds, the Cayuga Health Sampling Site will be closed Thursday and Friday. To make up for lost time, the Sampling Site, located at the Shops at Ithaca Mall, will be open on Saturday from 10am-3pm.

The New York State Department of Health has been conducting antibody tests in the Ithaca area, according to the Cornell Daily Sun.

The Tompkins County Health Department revealed Tuesday that State Health officials had been in the area to conduct random testing.  County health officials declined to indicate where the testing had been taking place. The recent local antibody testing efforts follows an announcement last week by Governor Andrew Cuomo that far more New Yorkers had been infected with COVID-19 than previously thought.  Cuomo referred to a study revealing that out of 3000 randomly sampled New Yorkers, 14 percent tested positive for antibodies against the novel coronavirus. 

The initial study that Cuomo mentioned shows that in New York’s Southern Tier region, the antibody testing suggested an infection rate of 2.4 percent.  That result is in contrast with New York City and Long Island, where the testing revealed 24.7 and 14.4 percent, respectively. New York State health officials are using results from antibody testing to help determine when and where businesses could safely reopen.

Cornell President Martha E. Pollack recently announced the formation of several committees to consider the university's options for the fall semester. This summer's classes will either be cancelled or conducted online.

It remains uncertain how or whether the university will hold on-campus classes next fall. One of the four committees announced by President Pollack will study options for opening the campus in the fall. Another group will prepare for online courses if it becomes necessary to postpone most or all on-campus classes beyond the summer. A third committee will consider how to reactivate research in areas currently considered as non-essential, and a fourth will look into future administrative functions in the face of possible budget reductions.

Recommendations about resuming research operations will be made by May 15. The other three committees will announce their recommendations between the middle and end of June.

A student in the Cornell College of Architecture, Art and Planning, or AAP, has sued the University for a refund of tuition and fees, according to the Cornell Daily Sun. Alec Faber, class of 2020, studies city and regional planning. On April 25th he filed a class-action suit in the Northern District of New York.  Another Architecture Art and Planning student, Olivia Haynie, class of 2020, had filed a similar suit on April 23rd, but withdrew her lawsuit yesterday. Cornell University spokesperson John Carberry told the Sun that Cornell is not able to comment on active litigation.

A number of other schools, including Columbia, Pace, and Long Island University, have been sued in class action lawsuits.  The students involved seek refunds or reimbursements for tuition and other fees that they paid to have in-person, on-campus classes and other activities.

Contributing writing by WRFI News Volunteers Esther Racoosin and Joanne Izbicki