Despite Reopening, COVID Lingers Locally

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Five regions in the state opened this past weekend, with Delaware County among them. But local public health officials warn that COVID-19 is not gone; another new case was reported on Sunday. Nine local people are still sick, and three of them are hospitalized.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that both the Capital Region and the Western New York region have met the state criteria for reopening and would open on Tuesday. 

According to the state’s online regional dashboard, the Hudson Valley actually lost ground on meeting reopening metrics, and there are increased reports of non-compliance with state public health mandates there. Incidents like a longtime Kingston barber who was working despite the state ban and then tested positive for the virus are creating extra work for public health officials, who are working to track everyone who may have been in contact with both the barber, and all his customers.

The governor instituted stricter rules for nursing homes. The state is now requiring that all nursing home staff be tested for the virus twice a week. The state is sending thousands of test kits to nursing homes throughout the state, and reserving some labs for processing those tests.

“The nursing homes are not happy with me,” Cuomo said. “They tell me no other state is requiring staff testing two times a week. I also know it’s necessary.”

More than 4,800 people died from the virus in New York nursing homes between March 1 and May 1, according to the state.

The state is also looking into what appears to be a virus-related syndrome that is targeting children. So far, the state has identified 137 children with an inflammation of the blood vessels that has also now been seen in 15 other states and five other countries. 

“Ninety percent of them test positive for the COVID virus,” he said, “and they are exhibiting an inflammatory response. It didn’t look like the COVID virus because it wasn’t respiratory. But when you go back and test, they were positive for the COVID virus.”

The governor said he believes New York has discovered the syndrome, but he believes that is “just the tip of the iceberg. I think there will be a whole lot more.”

Asked whether this new development might impact the state’s plans to reopen schools in the fall, the governor said, “it would have to.” 

The state health department is compiling data on the syndrome and sharing it with the CDC as well as other states.

Governor Cuomo also said the state would work with any major league sports team interested in resuming playing in the state without fans.

“If the economics work for them, with enough income from televising games, we encourage them to do it.”

The governor was asked about enforcement of social distancing and mask guidelines.

“The rules are very specific, they’re very clear,” he said. “Local governments should enforce them. I believe New Yorkers should enforce them.”

On Monday, Cuomo introduced Dr. Samir Bhatt, a specialist in geostatistics at the Imperial College in the U.K. Bhatt will advise the state on designing a model for reopening, as well as attempting to predict what may happen next.

Bhatt praised New York for its response, and its reliance on data and science. 

“New York is not out of the woods,” he said. “No state, no country, is.”

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