Tuesday, April 28 update

Today, the NYS and Onondaga County updates are (mostly) one and the same! Cuomo traveled over to SUNY Upstate here in Syracuse, where I thought he was going to talk specifically about criteria for the resumption of elective surgeries and the larger health picture related to them, and health care jobs, etc. Not really. He gave a pretty broad and somewhat unfocused presentation on reopening the economy in general, which was… good… and while he did have the courtesy to mention Central New York on some of his Powerpoint slides, I guess I was hoping to hear more about all the things SUNY Upstate and Onondaga County did right — the concept of the hospital system as a “fortress,” and all the initiatives that were taken to keep people out of the ERs, etc. But the presentation was fine, if a bit rambling. Now we are looking ahead to the fall and how it might impact the hospitals during regular flu season. Never too early to worry about that.

When Cuomo was in Buffalo, I was very disappointed to hear the local reporters asking him only about Trump. I was pleased that our local press corps wasn’t having any of that (especially since the White House apparently tried to upstage Cuomo this morning), and lobbed some nice hard questions at him, including one about nursing homes, which Cuomo is probably wishing to never hear again. A question that had to be asked, but which I think we all knew the answer to, was about the State Fair. It’s going, going, gone. Another blow to the Syracuse economy, but when we are also expecting thousands of students back to University Hill at the same time as the Fair, it’s trouble that we absolutely shouldn’t borrow. Kudos also to the Syracuse press for asking if private universities like SU are an example of an “attractive nuisance.” No, Cuomo said, but clearly this is a huge can of worms that he probably doesn’t want to face just yet.

Two fascinating stories of adventures in the PPE trade — one from Onondaga County, the other from Erie County. I don’t know if the stories are just different in emphasis, or if Onondaga County had to face any of the seamier purveyors that Erie County ran into. The specifics of why Syracuse’s and Buffalo’s outcomes have been distinctly different is still interesting to me, and I keep wondering how supply purchasing was handled in the early going that seemed to go more in Onondaga County’s favor, and if that had any impact at all.

As for the Onondaga County briefing, the CE has been gloomily warning this week that “there will be dark days ahead” — a message that has been coinciding with the county taking its proactive testing to the senior facilities. There were three new deaths announced today (total: 29) and it may not be looking good for too much longer for the Syracuse area to escape increased nursing home deaths.

Another topic at the county briefing today was the progressive muddying of testing stats as more and more players pour in to the testing scene. “Plan CNY” is going to wind up looking like a New York State-subsidized Swiss cheese before this is all over, and that probably doesn’t sit very well with McMahon and local health officials either. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned, that’s been disappointing, is how truly feudal state government is. I don’t think the average citizen, when they’re casting their votes, really comprehends how the spoils system still impacts even the most basic communication lines even in a crisis. If you’re a local official and you are a member of the ruling party, you might get included in real decision-making. If you aren’t, forget it. Albany has been a bull in a china shop through most of this crisis. It’s getting better, but the sense of sclerosis has never before been so publicly on display.

As for any disagreements with the state that I wondered about yesterday, it seems that the county has been pushing for resuming in-showroom auto sales, and the state may not like the idea. Auto sales are a big driver of county tax revenue, so McMahon wants the auto dealers open ASAP. And he probably knows very well that auto dealerships will be an attractive nuisance — and that that would be a feature, not a bug. It would be disingenuous not to point out that (hygiene measures notwithstanding) the gloves between upstate’s regions are poised to come off.