Friday, May 1 update

NYS update: As expected, today was Cuomo’s school announcement day and there will be no more 2019-20 school year. Kids who like school are not happy. (Aww, this is sad.)

Other than that, this briefing didn’t have a whole lot of substance, although Cuomo has called for a host of new reporting requirements for hospitals about COVID patients, about what they do for a living and how they get around, etc, which — like everything else proposed in Albany — is probably going to have a fuzzy rollout and just confuse everybody. But on the face of it, it is a good idea to track these things.

A prevailing theme, unfortunately, in these daily announcements is that a lot of them just don’t ever really get off the ground, and now I’m thinking Northeastia was probably mostly a press conference. Are the Northeastern governors really coordinating? Pennsylvania’s Northern Tier is about to reopen, which would seem to put our Southern Tier into the line of fire for COVID creep. (Fortunately, it seems that the “reopening” of northern PA basically amounts to conditions that are similar to NY’s current lockdown, so I’m not sure there will be any significant danger.)

In another sign of relaxing restrictions, the NY state troopers get to chase people again, which is probably a good thing.

The driver of a $130,000-plus luxury sedan was stopped by New York State Police on Tuesday after troopers spotted him driving 142 mph in a 55 mph zone. The driver, 34-year-old Sergey Reznichenko, of Spring Valley, was spotted by police driving south on the Palisades Parkway in Rockland County when he was stopped around 2:30 p.m., state police said in a news release on Thursday.

The Q&A section of Cuomo’s briefing about nursing homes was just… excruciating. What do state officials fundamentally not get about the fact that the threat of future lawsuits and shutdowns actually has no meaningful impact on the fears and needs of actual families with people in nursing homes RIGHT NOW??? Just like when Cuomo magnanimously offered to pay for Upstate ventilators he talked about taking, it’s like people in Albany are so fixated on lawyers and checkbooks that they have no sense of ground realities any more. Lawyers and checkbooks are not governing.

Onondaga County update: So many briefings, so little time. This morning, the Post-Standard held an online Q&A with Ryan McMahon that had been postponed from earlier in the week. I had sent in a question about the colleges on University Hill reopening and what the plans might be to handle the density. This question was answered; I had assumed the answer would be “Not sure yet” but it was pretty quickly answered as “Testing, testing and more testing.” The county is going to be required to do 13,000 tests a month and they aren’t even near that threshold yet, so I guess the student population are going to be swabbed within an inch of their lives.

This Q&A was unexpectedly meaty and we totally got a sneak preview of Cuomo’s schools announcement in a surprising way, as McMahon casually mentioned something pretty huge — that the state asked for Onondaga County’s guidance through an assessment of its own readiness for school opening. McMahon made it clear this morning that our schools would definitely not be ready to open in May. And really, if we are actually ahead of the rest of the state in all the key metrics, and we can’t start up, how could the rest of the state? (Anyhow, the Q&A is worth watching and my own question was answered about 37 minutes in.)

Then there was the city of Syracuse announcement where over 100 furloughs were announced. I wish Mayor Walsh would have a bit of a bigger presence on TV or Facebook live or whatever during all this; I do want to know more about what’s specifically going on in the city. I don’t think it would be getting in the way of the daily county hour if he did so.

And then the regular county briefing at 3 pm (which McMahon warned may disappear after “Phase 1” starts, maybe to become weekly). The main news bit (aside from a 34th death, a man in his 50s) was that, with the more complete test results now being submitted by Walmart to the county, it appears Onondaga County’s positive test rate has gone up to around 8%. Many of these are asymptomatic or “lightly symptomatic.” (We still have community spread, from citizens being naughty, and sick people going to work; today a contact alert was given concerning a Walmart in East Syracuse and several Centro routes.)

Today, around the state, Trumpoids were called into protest action in several cities, including Syracuse — so the CE was asked about protester accusations that he was a bad Republican, or not a Republican at all. He shrugged this off, but during a discussion of the county’s now-dire finances (wholly caused by the COVID crisis), he did offer some thoughts on Republicans.

When it comes to some of our leaders, everybody told us — everybody — the president, the governor, we agreed with their timeline — that we had to shut down through April 30. So there should be no question about giving states and local governments that support through that timeline. Because everyone was in agreement. By not doing that, it’s called an unfunded mandate. Unfunded mandates are not conservative things to do. That is a fiscally unconservative thing to do. So for my fiscal conservative friends in Washington, D.C., you don’t do unfunded mandates by telling people “You can’t operate,” and then you don’t give them the revenue that they lost.

(There are fiscal conservatives in D.C.? If that is the bedtime story that young Syracuse Republicans are still told when they are tucked in at night, well, I don’t know what to say.)

Looking ahead: the county will soon finish its testing of seniors in assisted living facilities, and plan to expand testing to other dense settings with seniors and vulnerable populations. The Central and Mohawk regions will coordinate on messaging to businesses and the public when “Phase 1” begins (and it was hinted that Monday, May 11 may be the actual date).

So how real is that “regional effort” — or is it a phantom like Northeastia? You can read this story in the Cortland Standard and judge for yourself.

On April 23, Cortland County Legislature Chairman Paul Heider had a teleconferenced meeting with local officials and business leaders, including Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin, Homer Town Supervisor Fred Forbes and Garry VanGorder, executive director of the Cortland County Business Development Corp. and Industrial Development Agency. Heider said he collected suggestions that were relayed to McMahon’s task force, which in turn sent them to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office… “The governor has given direction and now it is incumbent on our regional leadership to use that as guidance to make sure we’re meeting the state expectations,” Tobin said. “We need to get the economy moving, but we need to do that safely.”

In the county briefing today, as well as the morning Q&A, McMahon also brought up the responsibility that the region has to get it right: “Whatever is done in CNY is the template for everywhere else.”