Wednesday, May 13 update

NYS update: I, too, am growing tired of my unrelenting criticism of the governor day after day but… he just makes it so damn easy. This seems to be just one of many possible stories about Cuomo’s press conference pronouncements vs. reality:

On May 3, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state would be mandating that every single hospital have a 90-day supply of personal protective equipment in case there is a second wave of the virus.  As it turns out, he has yet to follow up on this mandate.  “We’re going to put in a state requirement now that every hospital has to have a 90-day supply, a stockpile, their own stockpile of all the PPE equipment that they could need for a 90-day supply at the rate of usage that we saw with this COVID virus,” Cuomo said during his May 3 morning press briefing. “And today we find out, about two hours ago, that the 90-day supply of personal protective equipment? No, no, no, just a guideline, don’t really have to do that. Just a guideline,” Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin first pointed out during a press conference on Monday. “We just spent seven or eight days assuming they had to have 90 days of stock built up.”

Steve McLaughlin is quite a vocal hater of the current lockdown situation, so he might be bitter about anything; but, as the story mentions, Spectrum News did confirm this. At least Cuomo is consistent — the governor pronounces: the localities will plan, enforce, and pay for it. At this point, I find it very hard to really take anything that Cuomo says seriously. To be fair to him, as our local county executive said yesterday, “The airplane will have to be built in the air.” (This saying reminds me of my dad’s favorite saying about old junkers – “It’s not a car, so much as car parts flying down the road in formation.”)

But it is vaguely Trumpian the way that his own aides sometimes have to fan out and reassure the people that, no, he really didn’t say that:

The [Auburn Citizen] editorial says it can’t imagine a classroom without face-to-face learning. This was never on the table. Technology cannot replace face-to-face learning. It’s a key part of education. But virtual solutions — created and implemented in close consultation with New York’s educators — can provide some continuity for students during the pandemic and supplement the state’s efforts to make sure every child gets a good education going forward. That, to be clear, is the focus of New York State’s re-imagine education task force.

Jim Malatras


Cuomo was in Watertown today (where he finally started screen sharing with an itty bitty live sign language interpreter.) Watertown and the North Country are now in the May 15 club. Congratulations to them, and to their press corps for asking the governor — for the first time in a long time, if not the first time — about conditions in the prisons. The North Country was promised they would receive enough test kits to maintain an adequate level of testing going forward. Hopefully those test kits will not be the defective ones.

Onondaga County update: Our regional dashboard numbers went up, but we’re still not in the Club. Today’s placard demonstrated that yesterday’s test numbers were indeed epic:

Some explanation of this chart: May 6-10, the Region number shows New York State’s official numbers, not what Onondaga County was reporting to them. The May 11 number is the locally tallied total, which the state reportedly agreed to accept as the official total because of delays in the lab processing. (Presumably, the big May 12 total gets factored in to the state’s dashboard tomorrow. We’ll see.) Still, I looked over old daily test numbers from my notes and still can’t figure out why the discrepancy is so large, even accounting for a couple days’ lab delay. If the problem we’re having is because of slow lab reporting to the state, maybe these labs need to be replaced.

Anyhow, CNY is probably opening Very Soon Now and I’m glad that people are remaining calm and just focusing on getting ready. “Data-driven decision making” is decision-making that consults numbers but can’t be obsessed with them (because “lies, damned lies, statistics,” etc).

The pace of deaths in the county seems to be dragging onward at roughly four per day, some in hospitals, some in nursing homes. The county death toll is now 82, which is very disheartening because we are on a plateau that just doesn’t seem to be falling. It might be useful to observe the 7-day running averages of community spread cases using data provided in the daily briefing:

7-day average ending May 5:  14.5
7-day average ending May 6:  14.4
7-day average ending May 7:  14.8
7-day average ending May 8:  16.0
(May 9 7-day average not computable, but 8-day average was 15.8)
7-day average ending May 10: 15.8 
7-day average ending May 11: 15.2
7-day average ending May 12: 16.8
7-day average ending May 13: 15.1

This seems like it would be a very important reading going forward, and I wish that the briefings would track this as well as the daily number. (There must be a theoretical average community spread number that would be a warning signal that exponential spread might be imminent, but not being an epidemiologist I wouldn’t know what that number might be for a community of this size.)

CE McMahon today spoke of being “nimble” and learning to “pivot” during the reopening process.

We think there’s going to be a certification process [for businesses], where they’ll have to go to a state-driven website — and then local enforcement’s certainly going to be on us, so we’re waiting for some of the guidelines related to that. And if they don’t come, we’ll figure out… our own guidelines then.

Yeah… I guess you could call that a “pivot.”