Thursday, April 9 update

Onondaga County update: Yesterday’s top news was that SUNY Upstate is sending 22 nurses to the new field hospital at SUNY Stony Brook. Today was their sendoff:

Yesterday’s county briefing revealed more of the same rising case numbers (in the +20s range) but that, as elsewhere in the state, hospitalizations are increasing and people are getting sicker (although CE McMahon mentioned that some people have left the ICU; it isn’t an automatic death sentence). As of this morning, both Madison and Oswego counties have bought in to Onondaga’s alternate-days social distancing scheme. (It would be nice if Cayuga, or at least Auburnians, could join in.) By the way, here’s the current state of Oswego’s public health briefings; their officials are dealing with the same sorts of questions as ours have been.

The alternate-days plan probably doesn’t actually do anything more than heighten public awareness about distancing. There are still a lot of stupid young people cavorting together at Onondaga Lake Park, but as everyone is tempted to ease up on distancing and safety measures (not just the young and stupid), this is a good message to send. The toolbox for getting people to pay attention is growing limited.

In the last “update” post, I noted that McMahon suddenly felt the need to mention that all six of Syracuse’s COVID deaths were Caucasian. Sure enough, the following day (yesterday), racial disparities were a central point of Cuomo’s daily briefing — so obviously the local health departments were being asked for this information the day before and that’s why it got into our briefing early. And yesterday’s county briefing followed the Cuomo line on reporting these stats. I just wish McMahon had tried harder to not make it seem like he was a college freshman reciting a class report for extra credit. “We have had private discussions about this” — meaning that county health officials have been looking at racial disparities and all this implies, which is great — but if not now, then soon, a public discussion of why this is important to look at, needs to be made at the daily briefing. People in Cicero need this explained to them by a white guy who speaks golf. The future health of the county depends on it. (At least it will fill the daily programming hole! Go for it, man.)

Don’t know what to say? Try this on for size:

All of our officials need to internalize the reality that “our vulnerable populations” are often a big part of our most “essential” populations too. The real and scientifically observed health vulnerabilities of African Americans also mean that a large amount of our truly essential workers (nurses, home health aides, janitors, cashiers, bus drivers, sanitation workers) have the same vulnerabilities! This is key information not to be ignored or politicized.

Afternoon edition: (I somehow got off my morning-evening schedule, and as I’m interested in keeping this as a reference record of daily events, here’s the rest of today’s story.)

The decline in hospitalization curve in NYC is a great relief to see, but it means little up here, where positive test results are still at a flat rate and hospitalizations are increasing. Syracuse’s fatality rate is still all-white (ethnicity is now reported daily) and still way behind Rochester, which is surprising. Why did Rochester/Monroe get hit so hard and so early?

The other news out of Albany is that the state has now moved to close all golf courses, which Onondaga County did several days ago. I don’t think Onondaga County was the first to do this statewide, though I notice that Cuomo’s secretary shouted out to Ryan McMahon on Twitter this afternoon.

The last interesting bit from today’s Onondaga County briefing was that the CE was asked if harsher measures were in the toolbox to enforce social distancing. If the new positive case rate increased, McMahon said, to say 45-50 new cases a day instead of the more usual 20-25, he hinted that he might ask the state for permission to institute a New Rochelle-style targeted lockdown. Let’s hope that doesn’t ever have to happen.