Coronavirus Update, November 18, 2020

The Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency, or TCIDA, awarded emergency grants to local childcare providers to provide financial support for COVID-19 facilities upgrades.

The Ithaca Times reports that TCIDA approved the grant program in order to improve coronavirus safety measures at childcare centers. Since June, eligible nonprofits and small businesses statewide have been able to receive grants of up to ten thousand dollars from New York state Industrial Development Agencies.

The program recently awarded grants to the following childcare facilities: The Downtown Ithaca Children’s Center, Ithaca Community Childcare Center, Coddington Road Community Center and a facility at Tompkins Cortland Community College.

The funding, totaling over thirty-three thousand dollars in Tompkins County so far, can be used to purchase personal protective equipment and other items needed to stop the spread of the virus.


Local farmers are experiencing decreases in the sales of their products at outdoor selling venues like the Ithaca Farmers Market because of COVID-19 restrictions.

According to the Ithaca Times, safety precautions and limited capacity inside farmers markets are causing longer wait times for customers who want to enter selling venues. Growers say their revenue has dropped from previous years because their local customer base is discouraged from grocery shopping by the lengthy lines of tourists and students.

Some Tompkins County food vendors have benefited from an increased emphasis on supporting small local businesses during the pandemic’s subsequent economic shutdown. Yet, a 2020 Ithaca Farmers Market survey of market members found that thirty-seven percent of sellers reported lower than average sales compared to 2019.


Cornell University announced that its schedule for Spring 2021 will give students two-day breaks in March and April rather than the weeklong spring break it has given in previous academic years.

The Cornell Daily Sun reports that these breaks, dubbed quote “Wellness Days” unquote by the university, aim to limit the spread of COVID-19 by restricting students’ off-campus travel.  Some Cornell students have expressed feelings of burnout and mental health strains this fall. The university scaled down its typical four-day fall break to only one day in October, which reduced the amount of time students could use to unwind from classes.

Cornell’s spring semester is slated to run from February 9 to May 14, with final exams ending May 25.


During a school board meeting Monday, Watkins Glen Schools Superintendent Greg Kelahan said that he is considering moving classes entirely online throughout December, according to The Odessa File. Kelahan said a decision will be made by the end of this week.

The Watkins Glen School Board voted 4-3 to reject extending the student conditioning program in the winter, in which students meet after school with their coaches to train. The board also voted 5-2 against allowing the Glen Gators swim club to use the school pool, stating that it could create a precedent leading other clubs to want to use school facilities as well.


Looking at the local COVID-19 caseload, the latest numbers, released yesterday from the Tompkins County health department, indicate that there are 11 additional positive cases, and 8 new recoveries. According to the County Health Department, that leaves 137 active cases of COVID-19 in Tompkins.


In Schuyler County, there are 5 new cases of COVID-19 reported as of today, leaving 35 active cases, according to their Health Department.


In New York State News,

63 progressive advocacy groups wrote a letter to New York State Legislature leaders, asking them to have an emergency session before the end of this year.  According to WSKG news, this is because COVID cases are rising and there has not been federal aid since April.

The state has a $15 million dollar budget deficit, mostly due to the pandemic. Governor Cuomo has also been withholding 20% of state aid to schools and local governments.

Cea Weaver, of Housing Justice for All, asserts that new taxes should be imposed on billionaires and multi-millionaires living in the state instead of cutting funding. Cuomo disagrees. He thinks that doing this will make the rich leave New York. However, Democratic Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie are in favor of taxing the rich.

Greg Biryla with the New York state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses wants the state to figure out how they plan to aid small business owners that suffered from the pandemic. As of November 12th, Stewart-Cousins said there are currently no plans for the Legislature to meet before the year ends.