In Tompkins County the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 is up to 153 as of the time of broadcast. According to the Tompkins county health department, the 1 person hospitalized for the virus has recovered and been released from Cayuga Medical Center. 128 of the positive cases have recovered, and over 7800 people have been tested in total. 

There were no new confirmed cases of the virus in Schuyler County as of Tuesday. According to the health department 12 out of 13 people who were infected with the virus have recovered. Over 1300 people have been tested in total.

On Tuesday it was announced by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that the Mid-Hudson Region joins the Capital Region, Western New York, Central New York, North Country, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley Regions in reopening. Long Island will begin phase one of reopening tomorrow when contact tracing operation goes live and if the area deaths continue to decrease.

Governor Cuomo has also announced that New York will continue to direct efforts to reduce the spread of the virus in lower-income and predominantly minority neighborhoods in New York City. Those areas are being hit harder by COVID-19 and are still seeing a higher number of cases a day.

There are about 1000 new cases of COVID-19 in New York State as of today, bringing the statewide total to over 354,000, according to the state department of health.

Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order on Friday that allows groups of 10 or less to gather as long as they wear personal protective equipment and stay at least 6 feet apart, reports The Ithaca Voice. 

The New York State Department of Health says that “cleaning and disinfection protocols” are required for any gatherings as well. 

Cuomo had announced last week that gatherings of 10 or less are possible for religious purposes or small Memorial Day ceremonies. The New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit, arguing that it is unconstitutional to allow small gatherings for some reasons, but not others. It is not stated if the executive order is a result of the lawsuit.

Local health officials urge the public to be cautious when gathering and to keep social distancing. Safety precautions include staying 6 feet apart, wearing a facemask over the nose and mouth and washing hands frequently.

As Tompkins county continues to move towards phase two of the reopening plan, County administrator Jason Molino says the county is “well-positioned to graduate to the next phase, and further phases from there". 

Tompkins Weekly reports that phase two is expected to begin Friday, May 29th. It will include the opening of barbershops and hair salons, retail stores, administrative support, and some real estate businesses, although there will continue to be safety restrictions in place in all cases. 

Molino and County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa have also provided some clarity on other issues related to beaches opening in Tompkins. While New York Governor Cuomo has allowed beaches to open, there are no plans to open any beaches in Tompkins County. RV camping will be allowed however, and short stay RV trips will be allowed going forward. 

Molino and Kruppa have also discussed mental health resources, stressing that there were resources available to residents as the pandemic continues. Kruppa notes there has been an uptick in call volume to suicide prevention hotlines, and has applauded the work of the call centers and their workers.

New York State Assembly and Senate leaders are re-convening this week to pass a series of pandemic-related bills. As reported by the Buffalo News, lawmakers will be voting remotely from their homes and offices for the first time since the pandemic began. 

One of the main areas of focus will be on passing bills to support renters and homeowners. Part of that will be to give more freedom to localities to spend funds relating to the virus. New York state lawmakers are also expected to pass the Emergency Rent Relief Act, which will provide vouchers to landlords in situations where tenants cannot pay their rent due to conditions specific to the pandemic. 

Lawmakers are also looking at protections for mortgage owners, such as a mandatory 90 day forbearance from banks and lenders. 

Lastly, the legislature is seeking to extend the period of the “Child Victims Act”. The extension will provide more time for victims to pursue cases given that the court system has been mostly closed during the pandemic. 

Contributing writing by WRFI News Interns Jon Donville and Tessie Devlin