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Columns

LEVINE: Building A Foundation, Together

Building

A Foundation

– Together

Community Foundation

Takes Aim At COVID-19

By HARRY LEVINE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COVID-19 has changed our world. Our community faces dire health and economic shocks that have disrupted our way of life and will continue to affect us for the foreseeable future.

The Community Foundation of Otsego County was created in 2019 with the mission of improving the quality of life for all the Otsego County area. We were about to publicly announce our formation when COVID-19 attacked. Rather than wait until the emergency passes, the Board of the Foundation has decided now is the time of greatest need and the Foundation must take a leading role in addressing the challenge.

Harry Levine, former president of the Otsego Land Trust, is now leading the formation of The Community Foundatio of Otsego County.

For those not familiar with CFOC and how we have been building resources to announce our introduction to the Otsego County community, we are an IRS designated nonprofit public charity (501c3).

Our mission is to improve the quality of life for all in the Otsego County area primarily through gathering financial assets to direct to existing nonprofits in our county – to help them solve problems we all recognize and that are common to rural areas. We have an excellent Board of Directors with members dedicated to our mission.

Community foundations across the nation have taken leadership roles in establishing COVID-19 relief funds. Albany, Syracuse, Utica and Rochester all have established their funds through local community foundations. In each city, local governments, businesses, and service organizations have joined as sponsors, making these funds a central point for donations to meet the emergency needs of their communities.

CFOC has now set up a fund for Otsego County. Initially, the Fund will direct its resources to emergency relief. Once the crisis abates, and if resources remain, the Fund will shift its emphasis to recovery efforts.

The Fund will gather money to address immediate needs in Otsego County (the relief part of the Fund). We know that unemployment is rising and we are seeing growing numbers of
Please See NEW FUND, A6potentially fatal illnesses. The service sector of our economy will be faced with overwhelming assistance requests.

The Fund is a general fund. Every $1 donated will be disbursed as awards (CFOC will underwrite the administrative expenses). Awards will be made to existing organizations that have proven abilities to deliver services (CFOC does not currently have the expertise or time to evaluate new organizations).

The Fund will be a major county-wide effort to use private donations to address the COVID-19 emergency. To do this, CFOC must partner with many individuals, businesses, and other community organizations, and private foundations. We are asking you to join us as contributors to the Fund.

To be clear, this fund is an additional resource and cannot replace local, state or federal funding. Nor is it designed to shift funds away from existing nonprofits – in fact, awards by the Fund will go entirely to nonprofits to deliver services. Please do not support our efforts at the expense of your continuing support of existing and productive nonprofit organizations.

►DESCRIPTION OF THE FUND

Our immediate concern is relief. We will rely upon existing nonprofit organizations that are on the front lines of responding to these needs. Awards will be issued to meet the following priorities:

• Support for medical workers, EMTs, police, firefighters, and others in essential industries who risk their own health to serve the community.
• Prevention measures such as education and sanitary supplies to limit the spread of the virus.
• Support for vulnerable populations, i.e. older adults with compromised immune systems, and people who are unhoused.
• Practical needs, in case of disruption in services to vulnerable populations, such as meal delivery and daily living support for homebound older adults.
• Food access and other practical support for people who have lost wages or are unable to stock up on food, specifically those who fall in the gaps of government-led responses.
• Support for workers, especially low-wage workers, to address lack of access to healthcare and paid sick leave, lack of proper safety equipment, economic impact of lost wages due to quarantines, cancelled activities, reduced hours/layoffs.
• Other emerging, immediate needs.

As we learn more about the impacts of the pandemic, priorities may change, but the overarching purpose of the Fund will remain the same.

►LET’S GET GOING

The Fund has been organized to work smoothly. See our website at www.cfotsego.com for more details and how to make a contribution. We can accept checks or credit card payments.

We are operating with unpaid volunteers and will underwrite all development and administrative costs. CFOC will not charge any fees to the Fund.

The Board of CFOC has authorized an initial investment of $50,000 to start the Fund, of which $30,000 is a $1 for $1 matching challenge to the community to participate.

Please join us as we work as One Community – One County to rise to the challenges created by this pandemic.

BENNETT: It Isn’t All Gloom And Doom

WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER

It Isn’t All

Gloom And Doom

By LARRY BENNETT • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

The title of this column is, “We are all in this together.” It’s a statement of a simple reality, but it’s also a dream about working together that I wish to be true for everyone – from our town, to our state, to our nation, to our world.

Larry Bennett, recently retired Brewery Ommegang creative director who is active in local causes, resides in East Merideth.

Now that the world is all in this together with the COVID-19 nightmare, it’s useful to look at how we are responding to the crisis.

Different nations are taking different paths, some more successful than others.

Early on China exercised its authoritarianism to suppress the bad news, until the bad news became insuppressible. Then it used that same authority to impose a lockdown that seems to have worked to slow the spread.

In Europe the spread was treated somewhat predictably. In Italy, never a nation known for its governmental stability and consistency, the virus raged out of control for weeks until the political became less important that the practical.

In Germany, a nation where discipline and high regard for democratic authority is combined with governmental compassion for all its people, the outbreak has been minimized as much as seems possible. The German government explained its reasoning and rules fully and enabled its citizens to comply.

Sweden, a bit of an odd outlier, chose to not impose a strict response, believing in its ability to weather the storm differently. Their decision now seems foolhardy, as cases there grow.

In the U.S. we know what happened. The president, never one to consider the facts when his instincts tell him differently, decided the economy ­­– and his election prospects – were more important than anything else.

Used to blustering and bluffing his way out of tight spots, he gambled that he could do the same here. But no one can bluff biology and he failed miserably.

The U.S., with 1/20th of the world’s population, now has over one quarter of the world’s cases (555,000 cases out of 1.8 million) and almost 20 per cent of the deaths (22,000 out of 113,000).

Still, even as the president continues to misrepresent the truth and as he tries to present himself as our war leader, I think we, the nation and the entire world, have come together. We have a newfound appreciation for our medical professionals who have proved to be amazingly courageous and dedicated, literally the heroes of this disaster.

When the pandemic comes under control, I think we will all be more willing to offer stronger support for them, to fund more medical research, and to try to implement a more equitable health care system.

Another way we have come together is in reconsidering and adjusting our relationships with other people. Millions are hurting, are running low on food and other essentials, and are out of financial resources. Americans are responding by building up food banks, by donating to helping causes, by doing tasks for others who can’t do them.

Many companies, even as they are being battered economically, are doing more to assist their communities. State governments, often derided as ineffective and bureaucratic, have stepped up to support, protect, and lead their citizens.

Many national governments, notably excluding ours, along with international institutions and corporations, are beginning to work together more effectively to share assistance and information.

To be sure, there are exceptions to the above, and we are far from winning this battle, but there is reason for hope. There is mounting daily evidence that people can rise above their own self-interest and work for the greater good. There is more proof we are all in this together, and for the better.

Finally, I’d like to remind us all that we can play a part. We can find a way to help today. Needs are everywhere. Contact your church, your food bank, your local government, and local charities.

STERNBERG: A Pearl Harbor Moment, Plus

LIFE IN THE TIME OF COVID-19

A Pearl Harbor

Moment, Plus

By RICHARD STERNBERG • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Two weeks ago, Surgeon General Jerome Adams made comments that last week would be a Pearl Harbor moment in the battle against COVID-19. Others picked up on the statement. I believe the President used that phrase at one point in a press conference. Others are calling this a 9/11 moment.

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.

This is nothing of the sort and is probably an insult to Pearl Harbor, 9/11 and the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, was a highly dishonorable way of declaring war against the United States by the Imperial Japanese Empire; 2,403 people died in it, mostly sailors, but also soldiers and marines, and some civilians.

On 9/11, 2,977 people, mostly American citizens, including 343 members of the New York City Fire Department, 71 metropolitan area law enforcement officers, one officer in Pennsylvania, and 55 military personnel were murdered.

Those who have died of what has been deemed to be 9/11-induced illnesses is probably greater than 3,000 considering first responders, clean-up crews and people who lived in the area. Let’s say 6,000 fatalities in total.

As of April 12, 2020, 20,488 people, up approximately 2,000 from the day before, have died of documented COVID-19 in the U.S., which is more than twice the combination of Pearl Harbor and 9/11 together.

There have been additional deaths well above the statistical averages not listed as COVID-19 but which highly probably are. Documented new deaths per day from COVID-19 are fast approaching the total at Pearl Harbor.arbor.Harbor.

The rate of the increase of deaths in New York State has leveled off but the rate of increase elsewhere in the U.S continues to rise.

Pearl Harbor and 9/11 are singular moments in the history of the United States and of the heroism of its military and municipal services. They were moments of national resolve but they were moments.

COVID-19 is a relentless killer that will continue worldwide unless a way to either cure it or prevent it is found. It wears us down.

The worldwide death toll could easily exceed millions unless vigilance is maintained. While it is an infectious disease on an individual basis, on a global level it is like a cancer, metastasizing everywhere and overwhelming the host, that is the population of the entire world.

Trivializing it as a moment, however monumental that moment is, does not prepare people for the continued fight ahead and gives them the false sense that if only we make it past one specific day everything will be well.

As terrible as Pearl Harbor and 9/11 were, the surgeon general using that analogy does disservice to those events and actually gives a false sense of security that the pandemic is less devastating than it is and it is abating.

MORGAN: Bad Numbers, Good News

MONEY MATTERS

Bad Numbers,

Good News

By TOM MORGAN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Let us call it The Finger-Pointers’ Dilemma.

The toll of the virus has been less than what we were promised. The WuFlu medical experts assured us the sky was definitely falling this time. Maybe 2 million of us would croak.

Tom Morgan, the retired Oneonta investment counselor and national syndicated columnist, resides in Franklin.

These experts convinced themselves of this. They convinced our public health officials. They convinced Big Media. All of them teamed up to convince our leaders.

And so, our leaders shut down our economy. They turfed over 17 million Americans from their jobs. And we are still counting. Upward. They cut the legs from under hundreds of thousands of small businesses. They sentenced many of them to bankruptcy. They pushed us into, likely, a recession. And, perhaps, into a depression. They saddled the country with trillions in new debt, to try to buffer the damage to workers and businesses.

Our leaders did this because experts demanded they do so. There was no alternative, they and the experts insisted. The prospect of 2 million deaths makes it imperative, they said.

After a few weeks the experts lowered their estimates. They now proclaimed that only 1 million or so Americans would die from WuFlu. Still a pretty daunting figure.

Then the experts lowered their estimates again. Only 240,000 of us would die from the virus. They were really serious about this number, they said. Pay attention to this number.

Then the experts lowered their estimates to 100,000 or so. Then 80,000. Then 60,000.  And they admitted that lots of people who were tagged as virus deaths were actually victims of such diseases as pneumonia.  They concluded this because far fewer folks were dying this year from pneumonia than die normally. Given that, maybe the WuFlu deaths would be in the 50,000 range.

Well now, this presents a lot of critics with a predicament.

This is because the President will probably claim that he and his crisis team must be miracle workers. After all, the experts told us 2 million would die. But after his crisis team went to work on the problem only 50,000 died. If that. He will suggest we toast his success. With a cocktail of that drug he touted. You know, the one the experts said nobody should take.

All hail to the conquering Trump. He and his team saved way over a million and a half lives.

WAIT! We can’t have that. No, no. We absolutely cannot give these guys such credit. Remember, half the country hates Trump. Thinks him an idiot.

Big Media cannot possibly give him or them credit. Not after declaring Trump’s every move was wrong. His every utterance a lie. His optimism unfounded. They claimed he had blood on his hands. They wailed that thousands of people were dying because of his decisions.

Trump was wrong on allocating supplies. On suggesting medicos look at that hydry-cholor, whatever, drug. He closed down travel from China too soon. No, he was too late. He was too late shutting down European travel. No, he was absolutely wrong to do it at all.

Given that mountain of vitriol and criticism Big Media cannot now give the sod credit. His political opponents, who called him racist and xenophobic and idiotic – for starters – they cannot afford to give him any credit. No. Absolutely not. Trump successful? Impossible!

So the question begs: If he and his team did everything wrong…if their efforts were not successful… how do we account for the much lower numbers? Oh dear.

It must be the experts. Let’s attack those experts! Yes, yes, good plan. But, but, but…those experts who were wrong include Dr. Fauci, who is now sainted. Canonized. Headed for a Nobel. They include the venerable World Health Organization. These experts told us, and advised the President, that the virus was no big deal. Travel bans were not necessary.

A dilemma. That is what the critics face. They assure us Trump & Co. screwed up everything. Trump was wrong about everything, everything! Until, that is, the unthinkable happened: We got a good result. Compared with the predictions of the experts, we got a miraculous result. To go from 2 million deaths to 50,000 is like a reverse Loaves and Fishes.

In the musical “The King And I”, the king declares he is confounded. “There are times I almost think nobody sure of what he absolutely know,” he sings. “Everybody find confusion in conclusion he concluded long ago.  And it puzzle me to learn that tho’ a man may be in doubt of what he know. Very quickly he will fight.  He’ll fight to prove that what he does not know is so!  Is a puzzlement.”

Indeed.

HYMAN: Crisis Tells Us: Be Prepared!

FROM THE FRONT LINES

Crisis Tells Us:

Be Prepared!

By CHARLES HYMAN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

I want to thank Richard Sternberg for bringing up the difficult issue of triage. Fortunately, our area has not had to face this type of excruciating decision-making. But we may yet.

Charles Hyman, M.D., who served for a decade as Bassett Hospital’s chief of medicine, is an expert in infectious diseases serving on the team that prepared for coronavirus’ arrival.

His “elephant in the room” makes me think of yet another “elephant in the room,” and that is the one of advance directives and healthcare agents.

April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day. This day is to bring to everyone’s attention the importance of advance-care planning

Ask yourself, “If I am incapacitated and unable to make health-related decisions for myself, is there someone I trust who can, and will make the right decisions based on what I would have wanted?”

If the answer to this is “No” or “Not sure,” like most of us, then please read on.

One of the most important decisions a person can make is having a healthcare agent.  A healthcare agent is a person who we have designated to speak for us and make healthcare decisions for us if we are unable to do so.  We hope never to face situations like this, but they happen, and planning for them helps ensure that what happens is based on what we would want for ourselves, and not what others who may not know us decide.

I am speaking of decisions like: Would I really want certain treatments if they are not curative?  Would I want people to try to re-start my heart with electric shocks if it stopped?  Would I want to be put on a respirator if chances were slim that I would survive to return to my previous life?

It is difficult and scary to think about these things. I know it is for me. But, it is important to identify someone we trust to make these types of decisions for us if we are unable.

Once we have identified this person, and they have agreed to take this responsibility on, we need to talk to them. We need to talk to them a lot and often. We need to talk to them about what is important in our lives, what we value, what brings us joy and happiness, and, what would bring us sadness that we would never want.

The answers to these questions don’t always stay the same, and may change over time. So we need to talk to this person, our trusted healthcare agent, often.  It is OK to change our mind, just talk to them and let them know what we are thinking

So how can we do this?  There are many, many resources. One of the best in my opinion is the Five Wishes. This document can be accessed on line for free from many sites, such as at the Helios Care web site at http://helioscare.org/.

Another useful site to go to New York State website, https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/1430.pdf where we can download the form and fill it out with our trusted healthcare agent.

Make sure to keep a copy, have our healthcare agent  keep a copy, and give a copy to our primary provider. It is also very important to make sure we have a conversation with our providers to make sure she/he knows what is important to us and who our Health Care Agent is.

Talking about these issues with a healthcare agent and our provider can help greatly in reducing the presence of all the “elephants in the room.”

BILL GATES: It’s Gotta End, Maybe By The End Of April

BILL GATES ON FOX

It’s Gotta End, Maybe

By The End Of April

On Fox News Sunday this week, Bill Gates told host Chris Wallace social distancing may have the coronavirus in retreat by the end of this month, at a toll far less than the 100,000-230,000 being predicted. Read the account in The Hill.  This photo is from the Microsoft founder’s famous 2025 Ted Talk when he predicted a pandemic was forthcoming.
PASTORS: Resurrection Guides Easter Reflections On The Coronavirus 

EASTER SUNDAY SPECIAL

Resurrection Guides

Pastors’ Reflections

On The Coronavirus 

Let Emergency’s Lessons

Strengthen Our Humanity

This disease has not been sent as a punishment from God. The sacred scriptures have shown us repeatedly that God, while not causing an event, can use an event to teach us, to bring us closer to God’s very self that we might experience God’s mercy and compassion.

Father David

And might this lesson be found in a curious parallel in Matthew’s Passion? There are two seemingly unconnected items that are in some sense bound together. A crown of thorns woven by Roman soldiers and a seamless tunic woven in one piece by a woman, Jesus’ mother perhaps?

But what did the seamless garment instinctively speak to those hardened, unsympathetic soldiers that even they knew enough not to tear it into pieces?

One act of weaving mocked the dignity of humanity; another act of weaving can bind the spiritual wounds of humanity.

When the coronavirus withdraws – and it will, when the mocking crown is removed from humanity and set aside, we will need the seamless garment to bind. How will this experience of the coronavirus change us? …change our relationships to one another? …our relationship with God? What are you going to weave?

Father DAVID MICKIEWICZ
Pastor
St. Mary’s Church, Oneonta

Resurrection Means Hope,

A Way To Face Challenges

Pastor Klosheim

Just a small virus changes life, leaving joblessness, overwork, distant relationships, and depression in its wake.
The Bible is an account of God’s rescue operation that ended in failure of Jesus’ death. But then God pulls off the greatest rescue of all time in the stunning resurrection.

Easter is not just a tradition that we observe once a year, but the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ makes us a people of hope and changes how we respond to the challenges of the day and to each other!

He is the only lasting hope!

Pastor JACK KLOSHEIM
Community Bible Chapel
Toddsville

When Disease Dissipates,

The ‘New Normal’ Awaits

Papers and blogs are bleeding anxiety over the current crisis, and speculation about the “New Normal.” Even when the pandemic is over, we hear, things will never go back to previous versions of business as usual.

Father Hunter

That’s the way I see Resurrection.

What is Resurrection, anyway? Is it simply coming back from the grave, as though I suffered a fatal bout of death but then “got over it”? Is it like reversing the process of dying so we go back to the pre-death status quo?

No.

When the Risen Jesus leaves his tomb empty, he hasn’t simply regained his old way of being alive. He displays an astounding New Way of life. He walks through walls. He surprises hikers on the road. He lets them recognize him when he breaks bread. Or he keeps them from spotting him when he converses.

And there’s a paradox: Jesus ascends into heaven, promising to return at some undisclosed future date. But at the same time he promises that he will be with them – and with us: Always, even to the end of this age.
Countless followers will testify that he has kept his promise to this very day.

This resurrection is absolutely NOT going back to the Old Normal. The Risen Christ is with us as the New Normal. That New Normal is his life now, and it is the sign of the life which can and should be our life in the age to come.

The great task of this life for us is to get accustomed to the New Normal. The inventor Charles Kettering said his greatest interest was in the future, because that was where he was going to live, so our greatest interest should be in the Resurrection life we now find in Jesus, because that is where we can hope to live eternally.

Father KENNETH HUNTER
Rector
St. James Episcopal Church
Oneonta

Spiritual Truths Promise

Reassurance, Confidence

Pastor Sylvia

Easter Sunday is the opportunity to be found. Just as Jesus found Mary Magdalene in the Garden on Easter Sunday.

Mary went to the Garden, expecting to find the body of a man whom she was to tend.

She went there with sadness in her heart, believing that evil had won the day.

She went to the tomb to find, but instead she was found, by the risen Lord.

Don’t we all want to be found? To be recognized? To matter?

These are difficult days we are all living through, and Easter Sunday is the perfect opportunity to set aside all the doubts, anxieties and stresses in our current physical world, and turn to spiritual truths for reassurance and confidence.

The Rev. SYLVIA BARRETT
Pastor
Milford United Methodist Church

In Time Of Trial, Listen

To Jubilant Cry Of Hope

Christians are in the midst of the holiest and longest week of the year: Holy Week is an Octave – eight days from Palm/Passion Sunday through Easter.

Pastor Messner

Normally I would be hearing confessions on Holy Monday and Holy Tuesday, after having observed Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and then reading the Passion Narrative (this year from Matthew’s Gospel).

But there is nothing “normal” about this Holy Week.

The powers of darkness (sin, evil) that Jesus came to overthrow, seem to have gathered strength to shut down all gatherings of the faithful this year. People of faith are clearly not immune from any of the realities of viruses, disappointment, depression, disease and, ultimately, death itself, which infect our earthly home.

Jesus calls us to be “wise as serpents and gentle as doves.” Such wisdom tells us (based on medical recommendations in the COVID-19 era) that we should “socially distance” ourselves from one another. Such distancing can lead to isolation, sadness and feelings of loss.

Jesus knew such isolation and sadness. On the night before His crucifixion He prayed to His Father, and ours, that He might escape this suffering and loss. But He submitted to the Father’s will and offered Himself on the Cross, to pay the price for all the diseases of this world, on Good Friday.

Our Jewish brothers and sisters are observing their holy festival of freedom, Passover, this week. At the end of the Seder meal in the home, the jubilant cry of hope is given: “Next year in Jerusalem! Next year may all be free!”

Christians celebrate that freedom, from all that ails our human family, in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead on Easter. Our jubilant cry of hope is, “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” Life and love overcome even death itself!

In such hope and confident faith, we pray that next year (and much sooner!) we may all be able to gather in our churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and homes and, with our immediate and extended families, celebrate God’s good gifts!

Next year may all be free!

The Rev. PAUL MESSNER
Pastor
Otsego County Lutheran Parish

ZAGATA: Lessons On Oil Embargo Forgotten

THE VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

Oil Embargo’s

Lesson Forgotten

In 1973, the Organization for the Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC) from the Middle East imposed an oil embargo on the United States.

Mike Zagata, DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and a former environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

It had a crippling impact on our economy and on our way of life because we didn’t produce enough energy in this country to meet the demand. People waited in line for hours to buy a few gallons of gasoline and tempers flared. The same impact was felt on heating oil and the petroleum feed stocks used to manufacture nearly everything we used to maintain our lifestyle.

It was not a fun time, and our politicians vowed to never let us be put in that position again. There was a positive side to that crisis in that this event triggered a series of legislative initiatives aimed at increasing fuel efficiency, including getting more miles per gallon of fuel with our automobiles.

Fast forward to today and observe what is happening with the coronavirus.

Over 90 percent of the medicines/prescription drugs we use and need are made offshore – mainly in China and India.

We are again not self-reliant, and are at the mercy of foreign countries, one of which has vowed to overtake us and become the number one world economy.

Is that a good thing? No, it isn’t. How did it happen – again? It happened because our politicians let, possibly even encouraged, it to happen.

We knowingly entered into trade agreements favoring those countries and decimating our middle class as their jobs were sent offshore. Our President is working to reverse that trend, but not everyone is happy about that.

Some in the media actually called him a racist when he imposed, early on, a travel ban with China and other nations known to have the virus. That may have been the single most important step that could have been taken to reduce the impact of the coronavirus on our country.

However, once the current battle with the virus is won, we must not allow ourselves to again be at the mercy of foreign governments when it comes to healthcare and the medicines we need to combat the threats to our health.

Are we willing to take the necessary steps to assure that happens? Likely not, unless you demand it of those who represent you in the state and federal legislatures.

Guess what folks! We’re already priming the pump to let it happen again.

This time it will be with renewable energy and the batteries it takes to store that energy. Wind and solar energy are only produced when the wind blows and the sun shines, and that’s less than 50 percent of the time in Upstate New York. That means we must be able to capture the energy when it’s available and then store it so it can be available to use when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.

We do that with lithium-ion batteries. Lithium is a rare-earth metal and where do you think it comes from. You guessed it – it comes from foreign countries like China, Russia and the Congo.

Do we really want to base our energy security on materials over which we have little control?

We did that once back in 1973 and it didn’t work out to our advantage. It’s time to remind our politicians of that and ask them to take the steps now that allow us to convert, over time, to renewable energy sources AND be able to store them for later use based on a technology that we control.

Doing otherwise is foolhardy and will, in the long run, prove to be a costly mistake.

STERNBERG: The Elephant In The Room

LIFE IN THE TIME OF COVID-19

The Elephant

In The Room

To me, there is no more important concept in The War Against COVID-19 than triage.

Merriam-Webster.com defines this as “the sorting of and allocation of treatment to patients, and especially battle and disaster victims, according to a system of priorities designed to maximize the number of survivors.”

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.

So far, triage is being used to determine who is taken to, or just allowed to go to, hospital emergency rooms.
EMTs in New York City have been instructed to make evaluations as to whether the caller will need
hospital services or can be deferred, a process that was always done at the emergency room before.

This is being done to protect the caller from the virus as well as to minimize utilization of resources.

In Italy in many cases, the use of a ventilator had to be triaged between patients who were felt to have a reasonable chance of survival and those who didn’t.

We haven’t quite reached that stage in New York, but according to Governor Cuomo we are close. We are running out of ventilators, even with stretching their use to the maximum and adapting BiPAP machines for use in some patients.

We are running out of healthcare workers whether due to COVID-19, positive coronavirus tests, or simply plain exhaustion. In my opinion, very soon, if not already, decisions will need to be made regarding the level of care new patients receive.

Traditionally, decisions like this have been made on the spot by the individual doctor in charge, almost always in a mass trauma situation. The need has rarely come up. While the governor talks about New York State now being one integrated health system, triage is being left up to the individual hospitals and sometimes providers.

The decision process should be consistent. Providers have a tough enough time determining the severity of illness and performing the treatment. In November 2015, the state Task Force on Life and the Law issued Ventilation Allocation Guidelines. This clearly and in great detail laid out guidelines and their rationale. But guidelines work best when there is an order by either the Governor or the Commissioner of Health.

I hope, the fact, that clever people have come up with ways to stretch the use of ventilators and other hospital respiratory equipment to satisfy the need.

I hope there will be enough medication and other treatments for everybody.

I hope there will be enough healthcare professionals to administer and perform necessary care. But it doesn’t seem that there is.

It is really unpleasant and no one, especially our political leaders, wants to have to order such guidelines, rather than have it just tacitly understood, but I feel it’s necessary for full transparency, to give our doctors, nurses, and other providers guidance to make decisions and to protect themselves, and allow the public to understand what is and may have to be the decision-making process.

BENNETT: The Question Of Out-Of-Towners

WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER

The Question Of

Out-Of-Towners

By LARRY BENNETT • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

FOR: First is the idea that all have the right to remove their family from a place of apparent danger to a place seen to be safer. Second is the economic idea that second-home owners have the absolute right to relocate to those homes, which they own and pay taxes on.

Larry Bennett, recently retired Brewery Ommegang creative director who is active in local causes, resides in East Merideth.

Presumably that is also true if a city resident can afford to rent a seasonal home here, or borrow one from friends or family who are not using it.

It’s hard to argue with the humanity of the first idea. It’s why the U.S. offers refuge to people fleeing failed states to the south. It’s why Europe offers refuge to people fleeing the Syrian war and other such catastrophes.

Yet nations never do this as well as is possible, and they almost never welcome the poor as graciously as the well-to-do. But that’s a different story.

The second idea also seems reasonable. If you have a right to flee and have the economic resources, you are entitled to utilize your resources to their maximum, and do or go where you desire. If you have been smart enough, or lucky enough, or born into the right family, who’s to say “no” to you leaving everyone else to their fate?

AGAINST: What is the greater good? What happens when your flight brings threats to those who live where you are fleeing? What if you leave the physical location of your troubles but unknowingly bring the underlying conditions of those troubles with you?

If you live in New York City and other downstate areas, you live in the eye of the COVID-19 storm. What if you flee the storm but bring the weather? It is going to happen. It is unavoidable.

What about the fact that every health expert says containment is only way to defeat the virus? In a closed population it runs its course, and the severity of the course depends on how well the population follows the rules. If they do it well the virus runs out of opportunity faster and with less damage.

The CDC and the governor’s directive is, “Don’t travel unnecessarily and if you have to go out, keep your distance. Don’t spread the virus.”

Traveling unnecessarily might be taking the subway uptown to visit a friend, or driving out to Coney Island to find some sun and fresh breezes. Urban residents are being clearly directed not to do so. Is packing up their cars and driving three hours to here ignoring the directive?

News stories tell of an influx of people in The Hamptons, Martha’s Vineyard and other vacation destinations for the wealthy.

Those communities are not prepared for the crowds. They typically staff up in May, not now – hiring more people at everything from grocery stores to medical facilities, and increasing inventory of consumable goods, be they food or medical goods.

The communities are now feeling overwhelmed. Year-’round residents are now going to have to compete with short-term residents – or even just visitors – for common needs such as food, on up to vital needs such as tests, hospital beds and respirators.

There are reports of wealthy visitors arriving and immediately going into grocery stores to buy thousands of dollars of staples at a time. And those actions also raise the issue of the 14-day self-isolation that travelers to a new location are supposed to observe, but many do not. All of these actions are cause for real concern.

A friend says that it is wrong to discriminate against people because of where they are from. But what if it’s not because of where they are from, but because of what they may bring with them?

Since the virus only travels through people it’s inevitable that they will bring more of the virus up here. On the other hand, we are not going to the city – for any reason – and bringing the virus back.

Should we do our best to welcome and help urban dwellers who rightfully fear the chaos and uncertainty in the city? If so, are there measures to take to better protect ourselves? Or should we implore the residents to please not leave the city – to not bring us a bigger share of chaos and uncertainty, which we are ill-equipped to handle?

STERNBERG: Why Wasn’t More Done Sooner?

LIFE IN THE TIME OF COVID-19

Why Wasn’t More

Done Sooner?

By RICHARD STERNBERG • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

 Over the last several days I reviewed a great deal of material regarding COVID-19 and the novel coronavirus. I looked at videos. I read scientific and lay papers. I scanned media reports. All to determine what to write about.
It was like drinking from a fire hose.

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.

But the Monday, March 30, announcement by Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, acknowledging that the best case scenario would be 100,000-200,000 deaths, made me really angry.

That’s not only because it is unacceptable that so many innocent lives will be lost, or because I know a great number of healthcare providers, first responders and public servants will be among them because of lack of proper protective equipment.

What made me angry was that again government officials kept painting a relatively rosy picture of problems either being or coming under control.

The last two months has shown the continued denial by America’s so-called leaders and lack of preparation that will probably lead to hundreds of thousands of unnecessary cases and deaths.

Why did they not learn from the outbreak in China and its response to it? In this modern age how could they begin to believe that it would not come to the United States? Why did they not prepare?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Disease who has generally been the voice of comfort, reason, honesty and reconciliation, has been repeatedly heavily criticized by some people in that he was not sufficiently loyal to President Trump.

This might be the man who has been really holding everything together at least on a national level. His numbers and statistics have been doubted and called fraudulent. My God, I wonder how we would be doing without him advising the president.

For several weeks, New York City Mayor Bill DiBlasio told New Yorkers they didn’t have to inconvenience themselves significantly during this outbreak. Where was he getting his information from and why was he contradicting the experts?

Many of our leaders have failed us. I can think of some exceptions, especially locally.

Otsego County Board Chairman Dave Bliss and Bassett Healthcare under the leadership of Dr. William Streck both started planning relatively sooner than many others. Bassett, in fact, began its planning way back in January before the first cases were reported in the United States. More on these in subsequent columns.

Right now, I don’t know what to believe. There are professionals, epidemiologists and statisticians, who provide data to support real predictions on how this will turn out. We all need to seek out these sources and then trust them.

I feel that at this point the only public figures I can trust to be straightforward and honest with us are Dr. Fauci and Governor Cuomo.

In the meantime, there are many good places to get information relevant to those of us in Otsego County. The bassett.org website (hit the link on top of the home page) has all the information Bassett has put out along with some excellent videos.

The state Department of Health, health.ny.gov, and the governor’s daily news conferences are also excellent sources of information.

I know that being angry is not going to help but it is the way I feel right now. I hope that other areas of the country stop their denial and learn from New York State’s experience.

I can also hope for some early breakthrough in treatment or immunization but that does not appear likely.

PASTORS: What Does Crisis Mean?

County Pastors Contemplate:

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Editor’s Note: The coronavirus has closed churches, but via the Internet and other means, pastors continue to preach. Over the next few weeks, we will share their words here.

Out Of Pain, Grief, Find Understanding

Ralph Waldo Emerson, a Transcendentalist Unitarian, wrote, “There is a crack in every thing God has made.”

In 1992, Leonard Cohen, singer, musician, and song writer, sang in his song “Anthem”, “There is a crack, a crack, in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

Rev. Schwalenberg

It is also how our light shines out. Through our brokenness.

Things are going to be difficult for us for a while. There will be pain and struggle and grief.

And we will feel profoundly broken. But in our brokenness. In our pain. In our grief. In our struggle.

Let us remember.

We are rooted to the Earth.

Connected in ways we cannot even begin to know or understand.

We are both whole and holy, APART it may seem, but truly, I tell you, A PART of the greater whole.

Bound by spirit. Bound by Life. Bound by Love.

Together.

Broken and Whole.

Rev. CRAIG SCHWALENBERG
Universalist Unitarian Church
Oneonta

He Intervenes, For Our Ultimate Good

In times like this, we must always remember that God is not the author of evil. He does not desire to hurt or afflict his creation.

Father Boston

But, as he did in the life of David the King – the “man after God’s own heart” who committed adultery and contracted out a murder – he will use evil to bring about good.

As he did in the life of the man born blind, he will make our hurts and afflictions occasions for his greater glory.

God grabs hold of the circumstances we have made for ourselves – circumstances that threaten to drag us down to our destructions – and uses those things to redeem us, and to glorify his Name. Our sins do hinder us. They can never hinder him.

What’s God up to? What’s he doing? I cannot give you an answer that will bring clarity to the days ahead. I cannot sketch out for you God’s game plan for what he’s accomplishing in this moment. I can only promise you this: the God who came and walked among us as one of us remains with us in our hours of trial as much as in our moments of triumph. The God who came and walked among us as one of us shall never leave us, whatever the afflictions through which we must walk. The God who came and walked among us as one of us is with us still. He goes still to the sick and suffering.

What’s God doing? What’s he up to? The same thing he has always been doing. The same thing he has always been up to. He is intervening, here and now in the life of this world – in your life and in my life – for his greater glory and for our ultimate good. Hold fast to that assurance. Hold fast to that unshakable, unbreakable promise. Hold fast to one another, even from a distance, even while we are apart.

Rev. DANE BOSTON
Christ Episcopal Church
Cooperstown

Lost In Dark Wood, We Find A New Way

The best evidence I’ve seen that the Maker of heaven and earth is searching for us, seeking to create a new relationship, a new covenant for a new age, is by witnessing all the caring that’s going on, here in our community and all around the world.

Rev. Swords-Horrell

People are taking care of their neighbors; they are calling our oldsters on the phone, checking in, getting their groceries, walking their dogs. There are school buses in front of our schools where families can get food.

We live in a community with a lot of heart, and this crisis is strengthening the ties that bind and creating entirely new ones, ties across the airwaves, across cyberspace, binding us together in love. That’s Holy Spirit work.

So as we continue our journey through this dark wood, we will continue to ask, who’s lost? Who’s lost in our community, our world, and how can we reach out to help be finders and restorers of life and health, from a safe distance?

When God called out that night so long ago, “Samuel, Samuel”, the lamp of God had not yet gone out. It was the darkest hour of the night. Some of us remember how Mama Cass sang, “And the darkest hour, is just before dawn.”
As Marcia McFee wrote for our liturgy today, “The path of life is rarely clear or straight-forward. We find ourselves lost in a Dark Wood, unclear which direction to go, perhaps having strayed from the path we thought we were on. It is at these times that the gift of getting lost is that we begin to pay more attention than we usually do.”

We’re standing together in a dark wood, not sure which way to go. We’re being invited to pay attention, to get quiet and open wide our senses. We’re listening for our name, for the call of God on our life. As individuals. As families. As a church. As a nation. As a planet. We’re getting quiet and we’re listening. We’re ready to say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.”

Rev. MARTI SWORDS-HORRELL
First United Methodist Church
Oneonta

ATWELL: If Not For A Buttonhook

FRONT PORCH PERSPECTIVE

If Not For

A Buttonhook

Jim Atwell and his grandmother, who as a little girl narrowly survived falling down a well – prospectively allowing her grandson to live among us today.

By JIM ATWELL • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Some years ago, I had dinner at Great-Grandpa’s house down in tidewater Maryland. It’s a handsome brick house with dormers, and it used to face a clear view across the fields to broad West River.

But realtors overran the area, and the fields filled up with houses for commuters to Washington.

Jim Atwell, a Quaker minister and retired college administrator, lives in Cooperstown.

And Great-Grandpa’s house is now a restaurant – a high-toned French one, mind you, down there in Shady Side, a hamlet once home only to truck farmers and to men who fished, dredged oysters and hauled enraged blue crabs from the Chesapeake’s tidewater.

We ate our dinners in an expansive, open-beamed addition to the house. It had been built out over the old backyard. It was tasteless of me, but I couldn’t describe the backyard as it once was.

“You know, the privy would have stood right over there, between the hat rack and the waiter’s station.” My fellow diners grimaced and went back to their goat’s cheese and endive vinaigrette.

But I sat fascinated. “And this table,” I added, “is probably just about over the old well.” If we were above that
well, I was at a spot crucial to my life.

For about 1880, a toddler, Great-Grandpa’s youngest daughter, fell down the family well. My grandmother.

As little boys, my brother and I would sit open-mouthed as she told the story – which she only knew from adults who repeated it later, shaking their heads. She’d been playing in the sunny back yard with another little girl and perhaps meant only to look curiously down into the well’s darkness. But she tumbled in, head first.

The other tot came into the busy kitchen, pulled at her own mother’s dress. “Annie Owings is down the well,” she lisped. The women ran shrieking into the yard. Neighbors’ doors banged open and a half dozen people rushed to stand around the well hole, peering down in horror.

The little girl was almost completely submerged. Only one foot jutted above the water in a tiny, high-button shoe. Men bent themselves over the well rim, stretching, clawing down toward the water.

But the shoe was just out of reach, even for the tallest of them.

Then a quiet voice said, “Lemme try, cap’ns.”

And a tall black waterman stepped to the well, drawing from his pocket a buttonhook. Lying down on his stomach, he leaned over the well rim, bent his torso down into the darkness. He reached down with the hook, stretched himself even farther, snagged the shoe’s topmost button. And drew Annie Owings out of the darkness, back from death.

“They rolled me on a barrel to get the water out,” Grandma would say, “and finally I coughed and started to cry.”

I told Grandma’s story to my table companions, and we sat silent. Then we toasted her and that buttonhook. And the tall black man, name unknown, who saved her life. And also opened life to my father, my brother and me.

I’ve thought of that distant day often since our meal at Great-Grandpa’s. An event 60 years before my birth almost meant I wasn’t. No big loss for the world, I know; but a considerable one for me.

How many other near misses, I wonder, were there for me, back across the generations? Beyond forebears who might have been snuffed by wars, plagues and falls down wells, what were my chances that all the right conceptions would take place, across all those endless generations? It’s dizzying, strikes me wordless.

And makes me wonder about a human’s value. Maybe each of us should say, “What am I worth? I’m only here by sheer blind luck.” Or maybe the opposite: “I must mean something since, despite unthinkable odds, here I am.”
Here we are, headed for a second darkness, gifted for a bit with life.

By that fact, maybe we owe something to all those faceless ghosts – humans who could have been. But never were.

ZAGATA: Did Anyone, Or Everyone Kill U.S. Pandemic Team?

VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

Did Anyone, Or Everyone

Kill U.S. Pandemic Team?

By MIKE ZAGATA • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

A friend of mine commented that he was upset with the president because he had eliminated the Pandemic Response Team (PRT).

I didn’t know there was such a thing and I’m guessing that neither did the President.

Mike Zagata, DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and a former environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

However, the fact that my friend was blaming the President for eliminating it, and then a year or so later having us face a pandemic with the corona virus, prompted me to attempt to explain how the national budget process works.

Explaining the budget process will allow the reader to place blame where it belongs. That is, if indeed, there is blame to be placed.

The President, also referred to as the Administration, submits a budget to Congress for legislative approval. All budget legislation must start in the House of Representatives. Once passed by the House, it is sent to the Senate for approval and, if approved, it becomes law. That’s the simplified version.

Here’s what really happens.

The President sets a target for his spending called the budget. For example, President Trump made it clear that he wanted to rebuild our military and thus his final budget should reflect that.

Then two things happen. The director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) takes the President’s budget and allocates funds to the various agencies within the Administration. By “agencies,” I mean things like the Department of Defense, Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture, EPA, Department of Homeland Security, etc. In general, the heads of those agencies make up the President’s Cabinet.

The OMB then directs the Secretaries (heads of the various agencies) to figure out how much money they need for the next year.

The agencies then prepare their agency’s budget by asking each of their internal departments to submit a budget and then adding them together into one budget for each agency.

The agency budgets are then submitted to the OMB. That’s where the lobbying begins as each agency head wants the budget they submitted to be fully funded.

However, the actual budget is supposed to balance against the amount of revenue the federal government expects to take in from taxes (that we pay) and other revenue sources.

When that doesn’t happen, the government will have a budget deficit that will add to our national debt. You and I aren’t allowed to do that – when our checkbook is empty, we’re broke. The federal government just prints more money and then raises our taxes to pay for it.

The OMB meets with representatives from the White House in an attempt to allocate money to meet the President’s priorities and still provide adequate funding for each agency while balancing the budget.

It is during this process that the Pandemic Response Team (PRT) might have been “cut” from the budget.

However, the amount of money involved is so small that it is very doubtful anyone ever said explicitly to cut the PRT – PRT was likely part of a bigger program, some of which could be cut with very little “pain.” Once the OMB completes this process, the Administration’s “approved” budget is sent back to the agencies. The amount of money approved for each agency is the amount that agency is allowed to seek from Congress – starting with the House. It is called the “pass back” budget.

Each agency then appears before the House Appropriations Committee to make the case for their budget. Members of the Committee ask the various agency heads, or their representatives, questions about their budget, including what’s in it and what’s not. This provides the second opportunity for the PRT to be included in the budget or axed.

Because the House is now controlled by the Democratic Party, the Democrats may also be responsible for the lack of funding for the PRT.

It is during the Appropriations process that the budget is carefully scrutinized and where lobbying is done on behalf of the various programs either included in, or left out of, the budget by the Administration’s budget. Thus, this is the part of the budget process where the PRT was likely not funded.

In other words, if the President’s budget doesn’t include something, anything, that Congress feels should be funded, the House Appropriations Committee can add it into the budget bill that it passes and sends along to the Senate.

Once passed by the Senate, it goes to the President for signature and, at that point, he could veto the entire bill. We know this because each year the President submits a “balanced” budget and Congress ads “pork” that leads to an unbalanced budget and deficit spending.

That is indeed how the process works. I lived it as Audubon’s director of Federal Relations. To place blame based on a lack of understanding of the budget process or unverified sources is simply not appropriate and serves to fuel the divisiveness leading to our current political climate. Now, if ever, is the time to come together irrespective of party affiliation.

CUOMO: Daily Updates Show Much Being Done

LETTER FROM THE GOVERNOR

Cuomo’s Daily Updates

Show Much Being Done

Photo of the Day: I toured the Javits Center in New York City today, where FEMA is beginning to build a 1,000-bed temporary hospital.

Editor’s Note: Here’s an example of Governor Cuomo’s daily email updates, which underscore how much is being done to combat coronavirus. Do yourself a favor: sign up at: https://now.ny.gov/page/s/coronavirus-updates

March 23, 2020

Dear New Yorker,

Amid this pandemic, we can’t underestimate the emotional trauma people are facing or underestimate the pain of isolation. It is real. This is not the human condition — not to be comforted, not to be close to friends, not to be able to hug someone. This is all unnatural and disorienting. But my hope is that while New York may be socially distanced, we remain spiritually connected. We will overcome this challenge and we will be stronger for it.

Here’s what else you need to know tonight:

1. Supplies are arriving at the Javits Center, which I toured earlier today to see the progress on the building of a temporary hospital there. The federal administration has deployed 339,760 N95 masks, 861,700 surgical masks, 353,300 gloves, 145,122 gowns and 197,085 face shields to New York State. Many state supplies have also been deployed to the Javits Center. The facility will open next week.

2. We opened a drive-thru mobile testing center in the Bronx this morning.  This opening follows successful mobile testing centers in New Rochelle, Rockland County, Staten Island and Long Island. (Visits are appointment-only and must be made by calling 1-888-364-3065.) New York is currently testing more than 16,000 people per day, more than any other state or country per capita.

3. I launched the New York Stronger Together campaign. Celebrities including Robert De Niro, Danny DeVito, Ben Stiller and La La Anthony have shared videos amplifying my message that people must stay home – not just to protect their own health, but to protect the health of more vulnerable New Yorkers.

4. 30,000 people have responded to our call for retired nurses and doctors, medical school students and others to join New York’s Coronavirus response effort. We still need more citizens to join this reserve staff. If you are a recently retired medical professional, a therapist, a psychologist or a qualified medical or nursing school student or staff member, we want your help. Enlist here: health.ny.gov/assistance.

5. The FDA has approved the use of a new experimental treatment in New York on a compassionate care basis to treat COVID-19 patients. The trials will use antibody injections to help stimulate and promote individuals’
immune systems against the virus.

Tonight’s “Deep Breath Moment”: I want to remind New Yorkers that New York State Parks remain open for solitary walks or hikes — but you must keep six feet of distance from others.
You can also take a virtual tour of many New York State parks.
Ever Upward,

ANDREW M. CUOMO

Governor

State of New York

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