December 4, 2021

Talks begin to open Central NY

As Central New York counties discuss how and when to begin opening up their economies, they need to consider things like coronavirus testing capacity, variety and result turnaround time, said Catherine Feurherm, Cortland County’s public health director.

“We are getting results from some labs in 24 to 36 hours, others are taking up to four days,” she said.

Questions about whether parts of the state could be opened up have become the topic of discussion over the past week as the number of deaths due to the virus has begun leveling off. Madison County, in fact, took the first step Thursday when it lifted a voluntary stay-at-home order that asked residents to alternate the days they left home depending on the year of their birth.

“We are presently working on a plan for reopening Cortland County that Onondaga County is spearheading with neighboring counties,” said Cortland County Administrator Rob Corpora. “Ryan McMahon (Onondaga County executive) and his team are the lead and have asked us to provide input into that plan.”

However, Corpora said the plan will be implemented in Cortland County only if the governor’s office approves it.

“We are hopeful we will be able to open and get our businesses back to work in a safe way,” he said. “No more detail can be provided at this time.”

In neighboring Tompkins County, Communications Director Dominick Recckio said it was too early for the county to comment on reopening.

“We will be working on this following state guidance in coming weeks,” he said.

New York expects to coordinate an effort with New Jersey and Connecticut to trace coronavirus infections from their latest victims back to their sources, with the idea of getting carriers into isolation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

Wide-scale testing, tracing and isolation are crucial to taming the outbreak in the hard-hit region, Cuomo said at his daily briefing. “It all has to be coordinated. There is no tracing that can work with one jurisdiction.”

New York’s 8 million residents are the epicenter of the pandemic in the state, and more than 257,000 have been tested so far. Cuomo and President Donald Trump agreed this week to expand the state’s capacity to test 40,000 people a day, up from 20,000.

“We will literally need thousands” of people to trace the contacts of infected people, Cuomo said, but now has just 225 tracers with almost 500 more in New York City and its suburbs. Cuomo wants to draw from 35,000 medical field students at state and city universities, as well as from the state health department and other agencies to provide tracers.

In Cortland, Feuerherm said besides testing capacity, the ability to restock personal protective equipment and other equipment efficiently must be taken into consideration.

Cortland County Emergency Response and Communications Director Scott Roman had said the county has no direct and consistent source for personal protective equipment.

“Reopen plans should be phased in, based on ability to maintain 6-foot distancing,” Feuerherm said. “We need sufficient time between phases to determine if the virus is resurfacing, so measures can be taken to stop the spread. If we follow the data and the science we should be able to proceed cautiously, but optimistically!”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.