It was announced Thursday by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that the state would place an additional 60-day moratorium on COVID-related evictions, leaving the policy in effect until August 20. The Governor also announced the state would ban late payments or fees for missed rent during the eviction moratorium. Additionally, renters facing economic trouble due to the pandemic can use their security deposit as payment, and repay the deposit back over time.

The $25 million Nourish New York Initiative, announced last week, has also reportedly purchased food and products from over 2100 farms across the state. In the next week, over 20,000 households across New York State will receive products from the new program.

As of Thursday New York State has over 327,000 cases of the novel coronavirus, up about 3500 from yesterday, according to the state department of health. As of 6pm, in Tompkins County the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 stands at 133. According to the Tompkins county health department, 2 people remain hospitalized for the virus. 107 of the positive cases have seen resolved symptoms, and over 4500 people have been tested in total. 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. 525 people have been tested in total.

Wellnow Urgent Care locations in the region are now offering COVID-19 testing at their clinics, according to Fingerlakes1.com. The company is using a nasal swab to find out if a patient is infected with COVID-19. They’re also utilizing antibody testing, which uses blood samples to determine if individuals developed antibodies because of a COVID-19 infection.

Patients will be given masks and screened in their car. They will then be brought into a private testing room to be administered the tests, which are FDA-approved. Labs are then sent overnight, with results returned 3-5 days later via an online portal.

Alternatives Federal Credit Union, or AFCU, recently announced a $1.4 million interest-free loan for businesses, organizations, individuals and non-profits, that have suffered financial losses to the pandemic.

According to the Ithaca Voice, applications are available to both members and non-members of AFCU. Alternative Federal Credit union is an Equal Credit Opportunity Lender and encourages applications from women, people of color, and WBE and MWBE enterprises.

The consumer loan window for personal loans is already open as of yesterday. Interested applicants should email:  AFCULoan@alternatives.org. The business loan window opens this Monday May 11, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. and closes on Wednesday May 13th at 5 p.m. Questions may be directed to kclark@alternatives.org

Mutual Aid Tompkins, a local group of volunteers striving to provide support to the community during the pandemic, has created mini-food pantries to tackle food insecurity in county neighborhoods. The Ithaca Voice reports that there are now 27 robin’s-egg blue cabinets distributed in areas all around Tompkins County.  The cabinets contain shelf-stable food items, in addition to hygiene items. 

Juliana Garcia, a Mutual Aid Tompkins organizer and social worker, created the idea for the mini-food pantries.  She was inspired after seeing that a neighbor changed out books for non-perishable food inside her mini-free library.  Later, Garcia asked some friends, carpenters Elizabeth Wolff and Jim Nagel, to come up with a design for a larger mini-pantry.  The first cabinet was placed in the yard of community organizer Phoebe Brown, who lives in the Northside neighborhood in the City of Ithaca.

B&B Flooring in Dryden now constructs many of the mini-pantries seen around the county. Bruce Baker, owner of B&B, states that because his business is considered essential, they need to be open.  Much of his staff is taking turns constructing the cabinets.

Learn more about the cabinets by going to mutualaidtompkins.com and clicking on the food sharing heading.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, or DEC, says that state public lands are currently open for walking, jogging, cycling and fishing. However, the state agency wants people to know that campgrounds in state parks and lands will not be open during Memorial Day weekend, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard.  All persons who are currently holding reservations for Memorial Day Weekend will be issued a full refund. 

For the time being, the DEC is not taking any new camping, cabin and cottage reservations for the 2020 season. Visitors to state parks and public lands are also reminded that there may be limited parking at sites during high-visitation days.  Swimming areas at parks remain closed through May 31.  All playgrounds, athletic facilities and gathering places at the state parks are also currently closed to patrons.

Park visitors can find out more information at dec.ny.gov.

Contributing writing by WRFI Volunteer Esther Racoosin, News Intern Christian Maitre, and WRFI News Director Michayla Savitt