This week, Hartwick College began moving students onto campus. SUNY Oneonta will begin the same process on the 22nd.
I am sure that many area residents are wondering the same thing that I am: Why are we opening campuses at all?
Last semester at SUNY Oneonta can be called nothing but a failure, (although the “Retrospective on Fall 2020” on www.oneonta.edu, through a showcase of passive voice and pivoting, says not
everything went poorly!)
Hartwick fared much better, but is easier to manage due to a smaller student population that is almost entirely residential. The two schools were just one patch in a diverse quilt of successes and failures in campus management across the country.
Nobody was sure whether to open campuses in the fall as the country braced for an imminent winter of suffering through increased cases and deaths.
The struggle to lockdown concrete information and a larger anti-COVID vaccine allotment continues in Otsego County and beyond.
“There is not an adequate supply of the vaccine,” David Bliss, county Board of Representatives chair, said Tuesday, Jan. 19. “This is a statewide problem.”
According to a list he provided, the problems include:
• Demand is higher than the
• Only a 100-dose weekly allotment to the county Health Department and selected pharmacies.
• Undependable allotment to Bassett Hospital.
• Local appointments aren’t held for local people.
• The State of New York controls distribution of a limited supply.
• The state is falling down on communication.
• Due to high traffic, the state
COVID-19 website keeps crashing.
• Pharmacy reservation systems have no bearing on how much vaccine may be available.
• The state is receiving 250,000 doses a week, but has 7 million residents eligible for the vaccines.
• Eligibility still limited to Phases 1A and 1B.
Beginning this week, some members of the general public are now eligible to schedule an anti-COVID vaccine appointment.
As of Monday, Jan. 11, the state gave the go-ahead to expand vaccine appointments to Phase 1b populations – seniors, first responders, corrections officers, teachers and other school staff; in-person college instructors, childcare workers, public facing grocery store workers, transit workers and individuals living and working in homeless shelters.
Also Monday, people 65 and older were folded into Phase 1b; previously, it has been 75 and older.
Phase 1a was focused on healthcare workers. The 1b situation is “fluid,” Kelly Rudd, Bassett Healthcare Network director of pharmaceutical services, said of the many moving parts of the operation.
The implementation of phases ultimately boils down to the prioritization of limited supplies; plus, state and federal guidelines continue to evolve.
“This is an extremely complex national endeavor we are navigating,” said Bassett President/CEO Tommy Ibrahim.
Organizations that will administer the inoculation – some drug stores, for instance – can submit requests for supplies; however, across the country, demands continue to trend higher than the stockpile – lending to the delay in vaccinating at a faster pace on a larger scale particularly in rural communities.
That said, the county Department of Health and other local providers have worked to set up clinics, expanding their vaccinations to include eligible phase 1b individuals.
According to the state website, “People age 65 and over (along with other Phase 1b individuals) will primarily be vaccinated at pharmacies and other sites that are part of the ‘retail network,’” by “appointment only.”
“The COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline is open 7 a.m.-10 p.m., 7 days a week, for scheduling vaccination appointments for eligible New Yorkers: 1-833-NYS-4-VAX 833-697-4829,” according to the website.
Community members are asked to check am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/ concerning their eligibility to receive the vaccine in addition to a list of various local clinics and pharmacies to inquire about making an appointment.
Bassett patients are encouraged to setup/use their MyBassett for updates on eligibility and other information as it becomes available to the public in real time.
There is a large amount of concern about this new strain of COVID that just Monday was confirmed to have reached New York State.
At this time, I keep hearing that it is more contagious than the strain we are familiar with but not more lethal.
What we don’t know, and what we will have to find out, is whether it is as sensitive to the approved vaccines as the strain we are most familiar with.
I am personally concerned that we are losing our focus on standard epidemiologic ways of preventing spread: This is not the time to give up on distancing, masks, and avoiding groups let alone crowds.
In preparing these columns, as I have stated in the past, there is a plethora of new information available every day.
There are at least 50 articles I can choose from, not including original scientific journal articles, that number several hundred each week on all platforms. None of these individual articles can give an overall picture of what is happening and the basic science in an organized fashion.
Interestingly, a close friend, an electrical engineer, turned me onto an online course offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this past semester for undergraduates and graduate students. There were 13 lectures, about 45 minutes long, on many aspects of the COVID-19 crisis by experts who are leaders in their fields. The course is available to anyone online at no charge.
While some of the lectures, and lecturers, are a bit esoteric, some were quite easy to follow. Many explain things so simply and well that the average interested person can come away with a fairly complete understanding of the important points of this pandemic and how the biology behind treating it works and is implemented.
I suggest at least taking a look at it and going over some of the lecturers. I admit several of the lecturers, while leaders in their fields, had problems speaking to a non-technical audience but most of them did a good job of educating overall.
To access the course, Google “MIT course 7.00”, then hit the first listing. Individual lectures can also be found through YouTube.
I am over 40 years from studying this material as coursework and much of what we know about viruses and immunology has changed since then but as I said above, some of the lecturers were able to distill out the essence of what they were saying so that anyone with only a high school biology background could follow it.
I particularly found interesting the first lecture, “COVID-19 and the Pandemic,” the second lecture “Corona Virus Pathology” and the fourth lecture, “Insights from the Corona Virus Pandemic” (which is given by Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is a wonderful teacher)
Number 10, “Vaccines”, is also among the easiest to understand for non-technical audiences.
It is very important that all of us try to obtain as much factual knowledge as possible.
Only in this way can we make informed decisions for ourselves and our families. Taking a course like this one I describe is as equally important as to gathering information by reading individual articles.
COOPERSTOWN – A 79-year old county resident has died of COVID-19, marking the seventh such death in the county since March, according to a release sent out by Heidi Bond, Otsego County public health director.
The death was not liked to the SUNY Oneonta outbreak, she said. The most recent death prior to this was in August.
COOPERSTOWN – In all, 107 new coronavirus cases were reported in Otsego County today, and all were SUNY Oneonta students, according to county Public Health Director Heidi Bond.
That brings the total to 460 total confirmed cases since the pandemic threat arrived in March, Bond reported, four times as many as had been reported in the county when the SUNY Oneonta outbreak began Aug. 24, a week ago Monday.
By RICHARD STERNBERG • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
The below is a letter I received (along with the rest of the Cooperstown Village Board) from a constituent and my response.
To the Members of the Village Board:
As you deliberate on proposed Local Law 7, we respectfully request you discuss the following points so your intent and purpose is clearly understood by all
If the purpose of this proposal is “to protect the public health, safety and welfare of Village residents,” why is it limited to only a portion of two streets? Even a casual observer can see there is relatively little activity on Main Street these days.
Currently the most congested areas of the village are on Fish Road and the block of Fair Street near the boat launch.
There is also considerable foot traffic on the northernmost block of Pioneer Street, where only one side of the street has a sidewalk which is much narrower than Main Street.
Moreover, there is very little mask-wearing and social-distancing in Lakefront Park and the walkway connecting Pioneer Street and Fish Road does not allow for distancing.
In other areas of the village there is a great deal of activity near the hospital and clinic; the grocery store and pharmacy; the gas stations and other commercial areas. Why are they not included?
With respect to enforcement, the Board should seriously reconsider the maximum fine of $1,000 for a first offense. … Do you have the personnel and expertise to enforce this one?
During the current pandemic, the wearing of a mask or face covering is a sensible thing to do. Government regulations should be sensible as well.
Thank you for your consideration.
Here is my response:
Your point is well taken about the law being extended to all other areas in the village, just like it is everywhere in Key West and other municipalities.
I would have never thought that this could be passed, especially since there are areas in the village with very low concentrations of pedestrians with easy ability to social distance. But with your help and support, this could happen. Thank you for support of this idea. I will present it.
By the way, I don’t know when you are on Main Street, but there is a high percentage of people not wearing masks, AND NOT PUTTING THEM ON WHEN PASSING OR NEAR OTHER PEOPLE.
In fact, these people aren’t carrying masks and if they have masks, they are not visible. In a pocket or purse, they cannot quickly be whipped on. I wouldn’t dare walk Main Street.
By the way, there are already laws in place to punish lack of a mask if not socially-distancing or not wearing one indoors at a public place, under the governor’s state of emergency. These should be enforced.
As you point out, the Village is putting in place a maximum penalty of $1,000. As you know, the individual’s penalty is imposed set by the presiding judge and at $1,000 is half of the state maximum penalty of $2,000 for violating similar laws.
I would think that maybe the initial fine for someone would be on the order of $100, as it is in Key West, and would escalate with repeat or recalcitrant offenders.
I agree that more citations should be given for other offenses. Once the public was aware of this, their behavior would change.
It doesn’t take many for a village with as good a communication system as Cooperstown has for word to get out. There are also other laws that violating could cause death, like speeding, driving while intoxicated, and not stopping at STOP signs or red lights.
During a pandemic wearing a mask IS the sensible thing to do. If only everyone did when in the presence of other members of the public, we would have this thing beat in eight weeks, according to the head of the CDC.
Please read the article in the latest Weekend Wall Street Journal, page C1, “The True Face of Freedom Wears a Mask.” Unfortunately, there are, to use a word favored by my family, ice holes, who don’t give a darn about your life and mine, and both of us are high-risk individuals.
Even the Republican President of the United States requires everyone around him to wear masks and get tested daily, albeit to protect himself. Wearing a mask is not just sensible it is a life and death issue.
COOPERSTOWN – COVID-19 is still with us, county Public Health Director Heidi Bond said today in reporting four new local cases in the past four days. Two people are now hospitalized locally with the disease.
Thursday, Bond had reported another four cases.
“Be mindful that the virus is still in our community,” she said, “and it continues to be very important to practice social distancing and wear a mask when social distancing is not possible. Wash hands frequently especially after using the rest room and before eating.
COOPERSTOWN – With one report of coronavirus in the village, complaints about people not wearing masks and lenience in places of business, Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch has called a special meeting of the Village Board at 8:30 a.m. Monday.
There, she will be seeking trustee approval of a FAQ (frequently asked questions) to be posted on the village and tourist-related websites emphasizing Village Hall’s stance on the coronavirus: “We strongly support and always promote public safety and social distancing.” The FAQs would also include the list of 22 states from which visitors are required to be quarantined for two weeks.
Today, she said, one of the village police officers was assigned to walk Main Street and visit local businesses to ensure people are wearing masks. Another officer will do so Sunday, and the patrols will continue during the week, she said.
COOPERSTOWN – The county Department of Health is reporting “a slight increase” in the number of local cases of the coronavirus, including two new hospitalizations.
The four new cases raise the county total from 81 to 85, since there have been no additional recoveries since the last report on July 10. That total consists of 73 recoveries, five deaths, and seven active cases at this time.
COOPERSTOWN – A new case of coronavirus has surfaced since the last report by the county Department of Health on July 6, and there has also been one recovery, maintaining the number of active cases in Otsego County at three.
That brings the total confirmed cases to 81, and the total recoveries to 73. There were five deaths locally.