The city of Ithaca has opened numerous playgrounds, city parks, and outdoor amenities in advance of the 4th of July holiday weekend. 14850 magazine reports that city park playgrounds, and tennis and pickleball courts are open. Additionally, the Ithaca Skate Park and Cayuga Waterfront trail are  open, while basketball courts and athletic fields at city parks will remain closed.

As announced last week, the Alex Haley pool at GIAC will also be re-opening soon. However, the splash pad at Stewart park is open from 11am-7pm. Visitors should note that bathrooms at Stewart Park and Cass Park will only be open as staffing allows.

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick has voiced his support for Cornell University’s fall reopening plan, noting that it will “give the city a shot at succeeding.”

On Tuesday the school announced its long-awaited plans for fall reopening, which details a mix of in-person and online instruction and plans for mass COVID-19 testing. The Cornell Daily Sun reports that between March and April, Tompkins County’s unemployment rose from 3.5% to 10.1%. 87 city of Ithaca employees were furloughed and hiring freezes were implemented as a result of economic fallout from the pandemic.

Small business owners previously expressed concerns that the pandemic could cause financial ruin if students do not return in fall. In his statement Myrick says Cornell University and Ithaca College have made a good decision, but the economy will not completely bounce back.

In other developments surrounding economic fallout from COVID-19, the national unemployment rate fell to 11.1% in June, down more than 2 percentage points since the rate was 13.3 percent in May.

According to the Times Union, the Department of Labor released these numbers today. In a separate report, the unemployment claims showed little improvement week by week, with just over 1.5 million claims being processed nationally for the week ending June 27th.

New York’s claims were actually higher than the previous week, with an additional 1200 people filing for unemployment, for a total of over 90 thousand claims.

The United States Senate and House of Representatives has unanimously voted to extend the period for small businesses to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP. According to the Times Union, the program was scheduled to end at midnight on Tuesday, but will now be extended 5 weeks until August 8th. The change must be signed into law by President Trump to take effect.

Since being enacted in April, the program has given out more than 300,000 loans worth almost 38 billion dollars.

The PPP is designed to offer loans that can be forgiven if a company keeps its employees on payroll. Most of the loans have been used to cover payroll, and is used for companies with up to 500 employees, though there are some exceptions.

The Paycheck Protection Program has garnered some criticism for giving too much of the money to larger businesses. The small business administration has vowed to review all loans over $2 million to verify that the company fits the program criteria. However, there is no plan or timeline for deciding how those reviews will actually take place.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is saying that the United States is suffering because of President Donald Trump’s denial of the seriousness of coronavirus.

According to the  Syracuse Post-Standard, Cuomo says that many states are seeing an increase in cases and Trump needs to mobilize the country to start wearing masks. The Governor adds that there are no warning signs of a spike in New York state, but he is still worried and asks New Yorkers to abide by reopening rules and local governments.

New York has recently seen a decrease in hospitalizations and deaths attributed to COVID-19, as states in the South and Western U.S. see increased cases and backpedal reopening businesses. As of this week, COVID-19 testing is available to any New Yorker who wants to be tested.

Looking to the local COVID-19 caseload, In Tompkins County 166 of the 168 people infected with the virus in Tompkins have recovered as of Thursday, according to the county health department. 14 out of 15 people infected with COVID-19 in Schuyler County have recovered, according to their health department.

Contributing writing by WRFI News Interns Jon Donville and Tessie Devlin