Ask Your Locals Governments: Take Care Of Us


Ask Your Local


Take Care Of Us


On Sunday, a friend of mine was talking to a family from South Carolina. They told him how bad it was down there now and how great it was up here and how we had beaten the virus.

Richard Sternberg, a retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, has agreed to provide his professional perspective while the coronavirus threat continues. Dr. Sternberg, who is also a village trustee, resides in Cooperstown.

They talked for a while, then walked away down Main Street. None of them were wearing masks, nor knew if they had the disease and could be spreading it. Nor had they quarantined for two weeks after arriving in New York. Now multiply this by a hundred.

Locally we did a great job of containing COVID-19. We went weeks without a case until recently a few cases popped up. Effectively the whole area had quarantined itself.

Recently there were cases. They had to be coming from the outside. And they will keep on coming.

There really is only one way to beat this disease and that is to prevent it from establishing itself. We have to keep it out.

If we can’t control the SARS-CoV-2 virus, it will run through the entire population, and locally we have a population which has a high percentage of people with risk factors.

I have presented the need for strict enforcement of the laws regarding social distancing and mask wearing to the Cooperstown Village Board of Trustees of which I am a member. If necessary, add local laws to augment state laws.

Among the responses I’ve gotten from village government are:

  • We can’t be any stricter than the governor. (Wrong)
  • We can’t figure out who needs to be wearing a mask and who doesn’t have to wear a mask. (Not necessary if everybody has to wear a mask.)
  • And, we don’t have enough police. (True, if you think you’re going to get a 100 percent citation rate, but that expectation is not held of any crime or misdemeanor.)

The Village has put up a difficult-to-read sign across Main Street and ordered posters and magnets asking people to please wear a mask and social distance.

The time to ask nicely is gone. More and more cars with out-of-state license plates are showing up in Cooperstown. I doubt any are quarantining for the requisite 2 weeks. The genie may already be out of the bottle.

There is a fine up to $1000 for failing to social distance or wear a mask. If we want to save our lives and health, and that of our families, we must stop the virus from getting lose in our community. Enforce this law now.

I strongly urge all of you who have concerns in this regard to contact your local representatives by phone, email and in writing, and by presenting at board and council meetings and speaking during public comments. Let them know that you want local officials to get ahead of an outbreak that went into overdrive elsewhere without warning and what you want and what you expect. In the villages there are elections coming up.

Right now, any government argument that has been encountered is really no excuse for not protecting the health of one’s citizens. Especially when it’s so cheap and easy to do. Let the people you have elected know, firmly and frequently, what you want and make sure they know how much you want it.

Richard Sternberg, a retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, has agreed to provide his professional perspective while the coronavirus threat continues. Dr. Sternberg, who is also a village trustee, resides in Cooperstown.


7 thoughts on “Ask Your Locals Governments: Take Care Of Us

  1. Elizabeth P Evans

    You are so right. Let’s value health and safety over tourism. To Cooperstown elected officials…..Get tough!

  2. Fred Dykstra Jr

    Protect your own health Sternburg! Your perspective as an orthopedic surgeon has no bearing on my rights. Be gone with you.

  3. John Webb

    You are absolutely right, Rich!!! Thank you for speaking up. The situation in this village is growing increasingly alarming, and it is all in the name of tourism and profits. That seems to be what the village is all about these days, but we ought to be able to strike a healthy balance. Enforcing a mask regulation isn’t going to keep the tourists away, and it might help to engender more respect for the health and well-being of others. I will add my voice!

  4. Terry Novorr

    Thank you for your thoughtful insights. The lack of masks on Main Street and Chestnut is obvious.

  5. Nelson Mondaca

    Thank you for bringing this to the village attention. I have encounter numerous people at Price Chopper and Mirabito without mask and when I have asked the managers for the reason why they are allowing no mask in the stores, The answer is that workers simply don’t want to offend tourist and people that they know who are not wearing mask.

  6. ceci

    I agree with Dr. Sternberg 100 percent! The number of out of state plates which include COVID-19 hot spots is alarming as is the fact that most of the tourists drawn to the National Baseball Hall of Fame since its reopening on June 26, walk around the village without masks. I have not observed any patrolling or enforcing by the police. Confirmed infections are rising in Otsego County. Cooperstown reported a new case on July 17, the first since April 6th. Very worrisome situation.

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