Sunday, May 10 update

NYS update: It’s a good thing that Cuomo’s briefings are in the morning, because this leaves me a few hours to calm down and read the fine print. Sometimes, we are lucky to get the fine print on the same day, often via corrective tweets from his assistants. Other times, clarification comes by press release later, or buried in a story the following day by one of the Albany press corps. Sometimes the fine print comes out in the briefing itself.

Today, Cuomo announced yet another nursing home policy. If you’re just joining us, the March 25 order forced nursing homes to take in COVID patients, and then this policy was later reversed, allowing nursing homes to drop off patients at any hospital even if they didn’t need to be in a hospital. Now, as of today, all nursing home staff has to submit to testing twice a week, and hospitals are not allowed to send COVID-positive patients to nursing homes — except if they are being sent to a local facility that can accommodate them, or to a state-run COVID nursing facility. I hope we are all getting this down.

I started to flip out a bit when listening to this, because I was thinking of Onondaga County’s only piece of real good news this week — which was that the county got all the nursing homes together, and worked out an agreement to get COVID-positive patients into nursing homes around here that could handle them, rather than dropping them off at hospitals. (I think The Bishop was the main facility accepting COVID patients.) Once again, local officials have to scramble to manage the state’s screwups, working hard to solve on-the-ground problems in “real time” (as CE McMahon likes to say). Then the state panics again, and comes up with new policies, new metrics, etc, and before you know it, local officials are having to wait for “clarification” to see if they can continue doing the perfectly sane and reasonable things they have been trying to do. (When McMahon keeps referring to concerns about “mental health” surely he has to be talking about his own whenever the state comes up with a new idea…)

Fortunately, I don’t think the state is really planning to transport these COVID-positive patients far away from home. (God, I hope not.) Cuomo displayed a map of state-approved facilities where COVID seniors could be placed — SUNY Upstate among them — but they are all located either here, Buffalo or downstate. (Are we supposed to think that families of these patients, who already aren’t allowed to see them, are going to be thrilled with their loved ones being placed at far-flung facilities all across the state? What even was the point of that map?) In any case, Cuomo’s remarks during his briefing seemed to confirm that these patients will not just be summarily put into an ambulance and sent out on the Thruway.

You know you have been watching these pressers for too many days in a row when you just want to get Cuomo, his secretary, and his Albany Dudes together in a room and scream at them to just lead, follow or get out of the way. At times they come off like a high school homecoming planning committee made up of popular kids who have never left the gym and don’t realize it’s an actual war out there.

Onondaga County update: There was no briefing today, but daily statistics were released. There were only six new community spread cases out of 36 new cases, which indicates a welcome further decline in that metric.

Tomorrow may be the day when the more metrically-correct regions (CNY, Mohawk, North Country, Southern Tier and Finger Lakes) get the word that they can start Phase 1 of reopening on May 15, as Cuomo said he would be “meeting” with the county executives. Yesterday, the Broome County exec seemed to enthusiastically jump the gun by tweeting that the Southern Tier had gotten permission to open. However, I think this was probably based on an unofficial conversation similar to what other counties have been having with the state (probably “Yeah, you’re going to be a go”) that isn’t official until Cuomo gets a press op out of it.

The New York Times glanced at Syracuse in its story about NYC’s reopening challenges:

At Gear Motions, a manufacturer based in Syracuse that was deemed essential and has stayed open through the shutdown, managers found that they had to deal with a very human concern: fear. “That’s what we learned early on,” Dean Burrows, the company’s president, said. “Everyone is scared.” To combat the fear, Mr. Burrows said his company had been sharing information about the virus broadly and quickly, creating a system for sending text messages to every employee. So far, no one at Gear Motions’ factories had tested positive, he said.

This news story about hepatitis in Rome got me thinking of the last time Onondaga County had an enduring health crisis — the hepatitis outbreak many years ago that mandated gloves for all food handlers. As I recall, that directive lasted a very long time. It’s a reminder of just how long it is going to take for this much more serious situation to go back to “normal” – if it ever really does.

(Note: In a post earlier this week, I speculated that Onondaga County would not be partaking in the Bloomberg-led contact tracing effort because they were getting tracers trained by Johns Hopkins. That actually is part of the Bloomberg effort, so I was wrong.)