December 8, 2021

Taking measures to stem coronavirus

County’s chief of health says ‘we are ready’

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Cortland County is ready for the spread of coronavirus, the county’s public health director said Wednesday after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a $40 million allocation to respond to the coming pandemic.

“Some counties are already incurring expenses related to isolation and quarantine and expending extensive staff time monitoring well people who meet the definition of low or medium risk for exposure. This was related to international travel,” county Public Health Director Catherine Feuerherm wrote in an email. “As the listing of countries with active disease spreads, that number will increase. It’s only a matter of time before we have positive cases here, but we are ready.”

So far, 60 Americans have been diagnosed with Covid-19, which has infected more than 81,000 people around the world, killing 2,700. Twenty-seven New Yorkers have been tested for the virus — including two in Tompkins County — and 26 have tested negative. The state awaits test results for the 27th.

“While we have no positives in New York state and no persons being monitored in Cortland County, it is most likely only a matter of time,” Feuerherm said. “We have started preparing by dusting off our pandemic flu plan and taking inventory of supplies.”

What you can do

Coronavirus has no vaccine, but preventive measures can slow the spread of the virus:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you’re sick, stay home.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw
    the tissue in the trash.
  • Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you show symptoms, contact your health-care provider before the appointment.
  • Call a state hotline at 1-888-364-3065 where Department of Health officials can answer questions regarding the novel coronavirus. Or go to a special state website,

Around the world:

  • The first U.S. case of coronavirus that didn’t involve foreign travel was confirmed in California.
  • Saudi Arabia banned foreign pilgrims from entering the kingdom to visit Islam’s holiest sites over the new coronavirus, potentially disrupting Ramadan plans of millions of Muslims.
  • Japan will close schools nationwide to slow the spread.
  • The first case has been confirmed in Latin America, a 61- year-old man who had traveled to Italy.
  • World stock markets fell between 1% and 2.3% early today on fears the virus would strain supply chains and productivity.

The $40 million allocation Cuomo announced would buy equipment and other resources. Cuomo also proposed legislation to give state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker authority to force local health departments and hospitals to take action and review protocols.

“While there are still no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in New York, these aggressive actions including $40 million in emergency funding will help ensure our healthcare system is equipped with the necessary staff, supplies and equipment needed to respond to any emergency situation that may arise in the future,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo also asked the federal government to expand testing capacity and speed results at several labs in New York, which are working with the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on a test for the virus.

Most people with the virus have only mild, flu-like symptoms, Feuerherm said, although the fatality rate is higher in the elderly and immune-compromised populations. In fact, she added, the fatality rate is so far lower than this year’s strain of influenza.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.