Sunday, April 19 update

NYS update: Cuomo has judged the state to be on the “downward slope of the mountain,” and today a statewide antibody testing program was announced. We can only hope that these tests are accurate, and that they produce data that can be applied in some sort of intelligent, fair and practical way. The other major part of today’s briefing was another fiscal cry for help from the federal government, as he warned that 50% of New York’s school money might have to be slashed.

Onondaga County update: I was going to say that for the first time since these dual daily briefings began, that I’m now starting to feel that NYS has begun to iron out the bugs, and that I can expect state and local governments to be more often on the same page. Certainly, the relevant curves here (hospitalizations, infections, recoveries) now seem to be similar to those in Cuomo-Land: getting flatter, looking better. (There was, however, a 19th death announced today, and there are still patients in their 30’s who are in critical condition.)

But, once again, the daily county briefing here seems ahead of the curve. The big NYS briefing story today was all about the commencement of antibody testing. The cynical side of me wondered if the testing was going to be a statewide sample, or just in big hotspots. The practical side of me wondered what good systematic antibody testing will do to get things up and running this spring anyway. Yes, if you’re trying to reinstitute pre-2020 global normality and issue Golden Tickets to everyone, antibody testing is useful. (We can have socialism, and still have a system of haves and have-nots, just like the good old days!) So it was good to hear our CE musing about this as well today — if one of your critical employees that you need to run your business doesn’t pass the antibody test, what then? (Lay them off and then give their job to someone who has a proper rabies certificate?)

McMahon also answered my question about where the tests are being done — not only in the places I’d feared, which is good for getting a random statewide sample (I was really hoping the state DOH wasn’t that dumb or political, and I guess they are not). In a stunning reversal, it seems that the state actually reached out and contacted the county on something first. Onondaga County will be having the antibody tests done at two confidential locations on a voluntary basis, which would not be divulged to the media in order not mess up the sampling. (I still don’t understand why that would really be a concern, though, since if these tests are voluntary, I assume people are still being approached to be tested, and somebody couldn’t just drive to Syracuse and blunder into one.)

So once again, I feel like watching the county briefing gives me a sneak peek into news and issues which Cuomo may deal with the following day. We’ll see.

I was very pleased to hear that the Onondaga County briefings will be including the 7-county CNY data going forward, probably after the county leaders have had a chance to meet this coming week (via phone or Zoom). Unlike Cuomo, who seems unable to mention any localities outside of his own litterbox, McMahon is quite happy to name-drop all the other constituent members of Greater CNY. In fact, I want to point out that this has been true of his briefings in general: unlike Cuomo, this guy frequently mentions all parts of New York State. We are often reminded of how much worse things are in New York City, or on Long Island or Westchester. Reminded of vulnerable rural hospitals in the North Country. Reminded of what other countries around the world are doing with testing and social distancing. Syracuse-area viewers get a better sense of what is happening “out there” than people typically do from the governor of this state. (And I hope people further out in Utica-Rome and Herkimer will get an opportunity to watch these daily briefings.)

The county officials and the hospitals have been thinking on exactly how to start up elective surgeries again, with some specifics ventured today that have not been heard previously. It sound as if elective surgery patients will be COVID-tested first, in the interests of conserving the heavy-duty PPE, so identifying surgery candidates will be a process in itself. As with everything, this requires state approval.

It seems that McMahon might have today been anticipating a question he never got — perhaps the “reopen” protests up in the North Country and in other states, none of which have happened around here. Today he started focusing in on the fact that, prior to the May 15 extension from Cuomo, both the White House and Cuomo had agreed on similar dates for social distancing to stay in effect (April 29 for Cuomo, April 30 for the White House). “Everybody’s interests are aligned here, no matter what your political ideology” — so we are exhorted to continue hunkering down for the rest of the month, with data deciding all.

The local media seemed inordinately concerned about golf courses again today. Basically, nobody really knows what the hell the ESDC guidance exactly is, and although McMahon gave a good shot at his own interpretation of what the new rules are, he sounded glad to be rid of responsibility for it. It’s not like golf in April around here is even normally a thing, people...

The shape of what this new CNY committee will be planning, seems very reasonable, and probably is aligned with what NYS would do everywhere if it could. That said, it is probably going to take a sustained level of social control, and unprecedented community solidarity, to get Central New York even a mile down this long road.