Coronavirus Update, May 19, 2020

In Tompkins County the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 increased by 4 today, to 145 as of Tuesday. According to the Tompkins county health department, 1 person remains hospitalized for the virus. 118 of the positive cases have recovered, and over 7000 people have been tested in total. 

There were no new confirmed cases of the virus in Schuyler County as of today. According to health department officials 10 out of 12 people who were infected with the virus have recovered. Over 970 people have been tested in total.

There are over 1400 new cases of COVID-19 in New York State as of today, bringing the statewide total to over 352,000, according to the state department of health.

Ithaca College officials have announced that the fall semester will begin in-person on October 5. According to the Ithaca Voice, the school still plans to have a full academic year even with the delayed start.

IC President Shirley Collado made the announcement in a letter to the campus community yesterday. She notes that college administrators will continue to make their decisions based on guidance and regulations on a local and state level on guidelines for reopening. The Voice reports that college leadership has held reopening meetings with Tompkins County officials in addition to local medical community members and the county health department.

Ithaca College has given a select group of people known as the  “Return to Campus Task Force” the responsibility of ensuring that proper health and safety guidelines are instilled within the school’s operations going forward. 

Amid the pandemic, schools across America are grappling with the decision on when — and how — they may reopen their doors to students this fall. In Collado’s words, she says the decision to delay the school’s reopening until October will give their faculty the opportunity to better prepare students for their educational experience. Additionally, the delayed opening gives staff a chance to put emergency health and safety management plans into place. Collado notes that more information about the delayed fall reopening will be made available later this week.

At Wednesday’s daily press conference held by New York’s Governor, Cuomo announced that a seventh area of the state — The Capital Region — has now hit the seven required metrics to begin phase 1 of reopening. 

The Governor also noted that a new collaboration with the Greater New York Hospital Association and the Healthcare Association of New York State would create a two week hospital visitation pilot program in 16 hospitals to allow for more visitations to patients. The measure includes guidelines such as visitors having to wear personal protective equipment and be subject to temperature and COVID symptom check-ups.

Governor Cuomo has also made the announcement that Memorial Day ceremonies of 10 people or less will be allowed in New York state. He has also encouraged the use of vehicle parades to honor veterans.

In other news about the upcoming Memorial Day Holiday, Governor Andrew Cuomo says that New York’s beaches, including municipal beaches and lakefront sights, will open this Friday for the holiday weekend at a 50 percent capacity limit, reports Times Union. This is a collaboration between New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware beaches. 

Governor Cuomo said NY state beaches will open even though some parts of the state do not meet reopening criteria so that New Yorkers do not visit out-of-state beaches.

Localities will decide by tomorrow if those beaches will open, so state beaches can prepare for a higher demand. Cuomo explains that local officials must follow the state’s guidelines for beach opening and will be closed if they fail to do so. 

People who plan to visit the beaches must adhere to social distance rules, including staying at least six feet apart, avoiding contact sports and wearing face masks if unable to socially distance. Capacity limits will also be enforced by limiting parking spaces and beach entrances. 

New York will hold its Democratic presidential primary election on June 23, reports the Albany Times Union. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision that canceling the primary would be unconstitutional and deprive people’s right to vote.

Last month, the New York State Board of Elections called off the primary due to public health concerns from coronavirus, and appealed the lower court’s decision that cancelling the voting is unconstitutional. 

New York State Board of Elections does not plan to bring the case to the Supreme Court. The Board of Elections Democratic co-chair Doug Kellner says they will focus on managing the primary elections instead. 

Mail-in voting is encouraged to reduce crowds at polling sights and every New Yorker will receive a postage-paid absentee ballot application in the mail. The state and congressional primaries will be held on June 23 in conjunction with the presidential primary election.  Head over to for more information mail-in voting option.

Contributing writing by WRFI News Intern Tessie Devlin