As a community, we face two tasks.
Job One is to tackle the coronavirus threat.
As evident in closing schools and colleges, local governments and business, in our adherence to “social distancing,” and in Bassett Hospital’s pro-active agenda, there is community-wide commitment to that.
Governor Cuomo, who has been at his best since the crisis loomed, put it well Sunday, March 22, in his interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: “In New York, we have already closed every valve that we can close. We learned from China. We learned from South Korea, and Italy.
“The lesson was loud and clear. Do everything you can as soon as you can, and that’s exactly what we’ve done here in New York. I can’t do anything else. I’m at zero non-essential workers. You can’t go below zero. So we have everything off.
“Now, we keep testing. We keep tracking the positives. Isolate the positives. Slow the spread. Increase the hospital capacity and in the meantime, get the darn masks and ventilators and the PPE equipment.”
In Otsego County, as in New York State at large, let’s continue doing all we can do.
Job Two is to limit the long-term damage.
With the welcome news that Italy’s epidemic is beginning to dip, we can be assured that the coronavirus will dissipate.
So, foremost, let’s not act precipitously.
Last week, Governor Cuomo estimated New York State’s challenge would peak in 45 days, in early May. If he’s right, that’s well before the summer season arrives here with Memorial Day Weekend.
The Hall of Fame’s decision to cancel the Classic Weekend in mid-May is defensible. That would be cutting it a little fine.
Cooperstown Dreams Park cancelling its 2020 season is premature, particularly given the economic impact – which, in the end, means impact on people: on retirees who depend on renting their homes, on business people dependent on the summer season, and on our foremost institutions and their employees, dependent on tourist visitations.
In short, pretty much everyone.
Cooperstown All-Star Village in West Oneonta has adopted a better model – “The Patton Plan,” if you will.
Owner Marty Patton is moving forward incrementally. Depending on how the challenge looks in early May, All-Star Village may or may not cancel its first week, June 5-11. The second week in May, the decision will be made whether to cancel the second week of youth-baseball tournaments, June 12-18. And so on.
Variations on “The Patton Plan” are no doubt being considered by The Fenimore and Farmers’ museums, Glimmerglass Opera, and the Hall itself as it looks ahead to July 26 and the prospective record-breaking induction of Derek Jeter.
Act if you must, but not immediately. All is not lost.
Running off county-by-county numbers on “The Coronavirus Economic Impact,” the New York State Association of
Counties (NYSAC), is estimating Otsego County’s government stands to lose $1,968,867 in sales-tax revenues alone, equivalent to about 20 percent of the tax levy.
That translates into $49,221,682 in lost sales – gasoline, restaurants, souvenirs – and doesn’t count lost occupancy tax on hotels and lodging, also substantial.
Apply the multiplier of 3 as money moves through the local economy, and that loss – even without lodging – would translate into $150 million, or $2,500 for every man, woman and child in the county.
That’s NYSAC’s “mild scenario.”
Job One is Job One – saving lives.
Let’s adhere to Governor Cuomo’s regimen, and give our healthcare community – the doctors, nurses and hospital staff, who are emerging as the heroes of this crisis – all the support we can.
But let’s look ahead to the job that awaits, and – with patience, prudence – minimize the long-term impact of a short-term crisis on the county that we love.