Monthly Archives: March 2020

Sunday, March 29: About your teenage Cuomo crush…

Teen Vogue isn’t swooning over Andrew Cuomo. Ouch:

Even now, as he publicly asks the federal government to send more ventilators and beds to New York, Cuomo has governed his state as a corporate Democrat — declining to put working people first. The governor has been trying to cut millions in Medicaid funding to balance the state budget, once again telling low-income New Yorkers that their health care is not a priority. Rather than ask millionaires and billionaires in New York to pay their fair share as our state economy collapses, the governor began pushing for unilateral power to slash government services throughout the year without legislative approval….

Long before Trump was elected, Democrats spent decades destroying the idea that we are the party that protects working people rather than corporate interests. Before we keep crushing on Cuomo, it’s worth asking how we ended up here.

Sunday, March 29: Masque of the…

In the fog of coronavirus war, it’s very hard to tell what the real state of PPE is in UNY, much less downstate where things are so much more fraught with need and politics. The daily Onondaga County briefings imply that Syracuse-area hospitals are doing “okay for now,” and what I’ve heard from at least one local hospital would confirm that. In Binghamton, things aren’t so good with PPE. In Watertown, firefighters have some N95 masks, but almost certainly not enough. And the police in my town have been asking publicly for PPE and other supplies.

It’s hard to figure out what to do about masks when two weeks ago, we were being told that surgical and cloth masks were absolutely no good for anything — and that by the way, you really ought to leave them to the professionals. Now everyone’s being urged to wear cloth masks. One Syracuse-area seamstress is working on an app to connect local healthcare facilities with local crafters willing to make masks. You can also see how to make masks according to official SUNY Upstate hospital specifications (HT @Lynn4MK)

And while hospital staff in large cities are desperate for any kind of PPE at all, it turns out that in Utica, you can still get extra-large masks for giant fiberglass advertising cows:

The masks do not mark the first time Cupcake and Chucky have been dressed up. “On their 50th birthday, they wore hats,” Wilson said. “And when Woodstock was at Griffiss (1999), they were wearing beads.”

Saturday, March 28

NYS update: According to Cuomo, one New Yorker is dying of coronavirus every seven minutes. As usual, Cuomo didn’t have any upstate-specific updates on offer, but for the general news that New York’s presidential primaries have moved to June 23 (and the NY-50 senate election here in the Syracuse area has also been postponed to then).

Today’s Onondaga County update: 146 positives (up 23 from yesterday), 20 hospitalized, 8 critical. Three have been released from the hospital. 2800 tests have been returned. 482 (including the 146 positives) are in isolation/quarantine. 76 of the positive cases are under 50 years of age. Onondaga County does not appear to have any “super spreader” situations.

Ryan McMahon says does not support a federally imposed quarantine of states and thinks this should be a governor’s decision, although he would discourage Onondaga County residents from traveling inside the state. Since Syracuse hospitals and infrastructure are doing well currently, he accepts the potential possibility of having to accept NYC patients as long as CNY/North Country patients are taken care of adequately. (Note: Syracuse being “frontline of CNY *and* the North Country” is a common daily theme with McMahon; he sees Syracuse as a broad regional center for 1 million people, not 460,000). He read another “mean e-mail” (not as funny as “Cameron”‘s the other day).

A short rather perfunctory press briefing, not really anything new and little comment or reporter question about the “party ban.” McMahon is doing a great job, however.   I’m not going to ask where he got the 60 ventilators.  I’m not going to make fun of him when he shows up in a windbreaker.  I don’t feel like criticizing anyone in this crisis (not even Cuomo), but I just don’t have any criticisms to make about this guy’s performance as county executive right now.    He speaks with clarity, patiently answers the same questions over and over, handles numbers and stats with aplomb, and just simply seems to know his stuff and has a thorough grasp of what the science is saying (although none of us quite know what to make of the data).

Granted, we don’t seem to be edging as close to dire meltdown as many other places in New York right now, so it’s probably easier to talk sense when your county’s doctors and nurses aren’t yet wearing trash bags for gowns and pull-ups for masks.  And during this period of time, we probably all can’t do much except seek local information, so I don’t know how the state’s other county leaders are doing or what they’re saying. But any of them could take lessons from this guy.  

In other news: two healthcare administrators in the Buffalo area have been fired or put on leave over their Facebook comments criticizing Donald Trump. Guess who’s behind it?

Laura Krolczyk, Roswell Park’s vice president for external affairs, was initially placed on administrative leave from her position but was fired following the conclusion of an investigation into her remarks, spokeswoman Annie Deck-Miller confirmed Saturday. Hauptman Woodward Medical Research Institute has placed Lisa LaTrovato, its director of development, on leave for her comments in the Facebook exchange with Krolczyk, the institute told The Buffalo News.

The institutions acted after the exchange between the two drew criticism once Republican operative Michael Caputo shared it widely through his Twitter account on Friday.

That’s right – a Republican who isn’t actually responsible for anything important.


In recent weeks, has published a lot of astonishing stories about the forgotten Spanish Flu pandemic. We have forgotten that even smaller epidemics were once much part of the backdrop of New York life. And because it seems there is a Fairmount story for absolutely everything, let’s go back to yesteryear (1837 or thereabouts) for a slice of life from a long-forgotten cholera epidemic that plagued Central New York.

Some background: The writer of this account was a traveling preacher who was reminiscing about this incident much later, in the 1870’s. At the time of this story, Fairmount was the rural seat of the Geddes family, with their cousins, the Jeromes, living just down the road. (James Geddes, the Erie Canal engineer, was probably still living at this time.)

George Geddes, who had assumed control of the family farm some years earlier, was never a big Bible-quoter in his many agricultural writings over the decades. But he actually wrote quite forcefully from a Christian position when addressing church governance and slavery before the Civil War. Perhaps this incident explains the origins of that passion. In any case, it’s a story of how things can happen fast. (Not sure whether to feel inspired, or — looking at it from poor Theodore’s point of view — amused. A little of both?)

I had preached in the morning at Camillus, a few miles west from Brother Jerome’s. I had for one of my hearers Mr. Geo. Geddes, who was a decided sceptic. By invitation I dined that day at Brother Woodward’s, whose premises were separated from Brother Jerome’s only by the dooryard fence. While we were at dinner, an irreligious son, Theodore, rushed into the room unceremoniously and, addressing me, said, “Father wants you to come over to our house as soon as possible.” Inferring from his great haste and expression of his countenance that someone of the family was seized with an attack of cholera, we immediately dropped knife and fork and ran over.

On entering the house we found George Geddes on his knees surrounded by a group of friends. Mr. G had learned, doubtless, that I was a former sceptic, and the all-absorbing question with him seemed to be whether God could or would extend mercy to an infidel. When I instanced my own case, his doubts shortly dissolved into a sweet consciousness of God’s willingness to save. Faith triumphed and there was a time of sweet and heavenly rejoicing.

We returned to finish our dinner. But before we were through with the meal, in came Theodore, saying, “There is another case; Father wants you to come over as soon as you can.” There we found Dr. Jerome, a nephew, penitent, pleading for mercy. Touched by the story of his cousin, Geo. Geddes, he was not long in forming the purpose to become a Christian. We all united in prayer; the struggle was “short, sharp and decisive.” Again, we sang the doxology and we retired to finish the “desert.”

Now we supposed, of course, that we should have no more special case, but we were mistaken. Theodore was on hand again and informed us that Mrs. Geddes was very much distressed in her mind and wanted us to pray for her. O the mystery of Divine love. She saw the change wrought in her husband, and immediately sought for herself the great salvation. That Sabbath evening she was converted. That same evening, the servants, a man and a woman, were converted. The whole household converted! What a happy family!

(This story appeared in the (Auburn) Northern Christian Advocate of October 17, 1878.)

Please take one moment

Former state senator Ted O’Brien, D-Irondequoit, is critically ill in Rochester.

“In a telephone interview [on March 20], O’Brien told the Democrat and Chronicle that he had not had some of the more-common symptoms, such as a fever and cough. He was unsure where he contracted the disease. “For me, I think the lesson is we really don’t know much about COVID-19,” O’Brien said then. “… We’re still figuring out how COVID-19 presents and it can do it in a lot of different ways.” Within four days of that interview, O’Brien, 63, was in the intensive care unit at Rochester General Hospital.

The New York Times has a special section on prominent and ordinary New Yorkers who have passed away from coronavirus.