In Tompkins County the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 stands at 156 as of Friday. According to the Tompkins county health department, one person is hospitalized for the virus. 135 of the positive cases have recovered, and over 9200 people have been tested in total.

There are no new confirmed cases of the virus in Schuyler County as of Friday. According to the Schuyler health department all 13 people who were infected with the virus have recovered. Over 1400 people have been tested in total.

There are over 1500 new cases of COVID-19 in New York State as of Friday, bringing the statewide total to over 368,000, according to the state department of health.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday the guidelines for businesses reopening for phase two in the Southern Tier and four other upstate regions. This announcement is a reversal from last night’s control room meeting, when state officials announced that the Finger Lakes, Central New York, Mohawk Valley, North Country and the Southern Tier could not enter phase 2 of reopening. According to the Ithaca Voice, this was despite officials’ anticipation to enter the next stage. 

The businesses allowed to open include all office-based jobs, administrative support, real estate, retail, as well as barbershops and salons -- all with restrictions and reduced capacity. For instance, office-based workplaces can reopen if they conduct regular health screenings and don’t exceed 50% capacity. In-store retail shopping is now allowed as well, but again limited to 50% capacity, and all employees must wear face masks.

In a letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Congressman Tom Reed, who represents Tompkins and Schuyler Counties, criticizes Cuomo for the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes, reports WSKG. 

Cuomo issued an executive order to test nursing home staff for coronavirus twice a week. In an online discussion of state lawmakers and local hospital and nursing home officials, CEO of Cayuga Medical Center Martin Stallone says the order is not based on science and is not what the CDC recommends for nursing homes.

Stallone says infection rates differ across the state and local officials should have more control over nursing home testing.

In mid-May, it was reported in The New York Times that over 28,100 workers and residents of nursing homes had died from COVID-19 across the nation. Cayuga Medical Center has not reported any COVID-19 cases from nursing residents or staff.

The Tompkins County Communicable Disease Team, who are responsible for contact tracing, has grown from 6 people to over 30 people in the past few weeks, reports Ithaca Times. Nine of the new team members are nurses and others are county department workers trained at Johns Hopkins University. 

Supervising Community Health Nurse Melissa Gatch, who manages the Communicable Disease Team, says that people who are tested positive or negative are included in a state database. A member of the contact tracing team investigates positive COVID-19 cases by interviewing the person who tests positive to determine who the person is in contact with and if they have the capacity to isolate.

Contact tracing was a common practice nationwide before COVID-19. It is used to track the path that an infectious disease might take from someone with an illness before the outbreak becomes uncontrollable. 

The newly re-covened state legislature passed more than two dozen coronavirus relief bills this week, according to the Albany times union.

The legislature went on hiatus in April amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The legislators did approve resolutions allowing for remote voting, which was extensively used in this week's meeting of the legislature. 

The measures passed include a ban on utility providers shutting off services during the state of emergency, the ability for New Yorkers to apply electronically for absentee ballots, and to strengthen penalties for price gouging on medical supplies. Also passed this week was a repeal of a 19th century law that prohibits wearing a mask in public. Plus, assurance that schools shuttered because of COVID-19 can still receive state aid. The bills now await the signature of Governor Cuomo to be enacted into law. 

Contributing writing by News Team Contributor Ed von Aderkas and News Intern Tessie Devlin