News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.



One Report, One Recovery Keeps COVID-19 Stable At 3

One Report, One Recovery

Keeps COVID-19 Stable At 3

CDC image of the coronavirus

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.

Other data released today included:

Hall ROCKIN’ Again Rock Hall Of Fame Pushed To Open As Soon As Possible

Hall ROCKIN’ Again

Rock Hall Of Fame Pushed

To Open As Soon As Possible

Healthcare workers got in free on Sunday, June 14, one day before the official Rock & Roll Hall of Fame reopening. (Photo courtesy Rock & Roll Hall of Fame)

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

‘Walk This Way.” “Don’t Stand So Close To Me.” “Check Your Head.”

These aren’t just favorite albums and songs – they’re directives on how to enjoy the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, which reopened this past Monday, June 15.

Who is that masked man? Greg Harris, formerly of Cooperstown, Rock Hall of Fame president.

“Museums and museum professionals think about this all the time,” said Hall President Greg Harris, an alumnus of both the Cooperstown Graduate School and the Baseball Hall of Fame.

How to create a flow – the do’s and dont’s of touching artifacts – so in this heightened moment, museums are perfectly positioned to work with these stringent guidelines, but still create a memorable experience.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic closed the museum in March, Harris and his staff began working on plans to reopen.

“We put together a task force and got in touch with museums all over the country,” he said.

We were working with the CDC recommendations, as well as recommendations from the American Association of Museums, which has been very involved in shaping those requirements for us.”

A new online ticketing system was built, allowing guests to buy tickets via the Internet ahead of time for a specific time slot to ensure that the museum is not over capacity. Touch-free sliding glass doors were installed, and floor decals were placed throughout the museum to allow visitors to proceed safely.

Dead-end galleries, like the one that housed Vans Warped Tour, were closed, he said.

Paying homage to the Beastie Boys, signage throughout the museum encourages social distancing.

Visitors and employees will be subject to temperature screenings by nursing students hired by the museum. “If your temperature is over 100, you can’t come in,” he said. “And masks will be required. If you come without a mask, we’ll give you one.”

Or, he said, souvenir masks are available in the gift shop.

In addition to the museum itself, there were dining, retail and theater spaces to consider, each with its own set of regulations.

“All the surveys we did said that people were more inclined to be outdoors,” he said. “We’ve reconfigured our beer garden and food trucks, and we’re going to start having live music, which a lot of people have missed.”

Among those slated to play live performances are his son, Cooperstown native Jack Harris, whose song “No One Listens” has received radio airplay in Cleveland.

In the theaters, every other row will be cordoned off to best accommodate social distancing.

Last Sunday, June 13, the first guests were welcomed to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in a free event for health care workers and their families.

“We’re reopening as a stronger museum,” said Harris.

Forces Combined, And All Star Village Had To Face Reality

Forces Combined,

And All Star Village

Had To Face Reality

Crowd Regulations, Jobless Benefits,

Caused Patton To Cancel 2020 Season

Cooperstown All Star Village is more than just a youth-baseball venue, it’s an actual village, boasting two restaurants and a 40-room hotel.

WEST ONEONTA – From the beginning, Marty Patton, Cooperstown All Star Village proprietor, had concerns about being able to operate safely as the coronavirus swept the nation.

Marty Patton

“What if a coach comes in from out of the area, and the kids get infected?” he reflected the day after deciding it will be impossible to open his youth-baseball tournament venue on Route 205 this summer.

But many obstacles, he discovered over the past several weeks, were arrayed against a successful 2020 season that he’s been hoping, week by week, to launch since early May:

3 Coronavirus Cases Surface Over Weekend

3 Coronavirus Cases

Surface Over Weekend

CDC image of the coronavirus

COOPERSTOWN – The county Health Department today reports confirming three cases of coronavirus over the weekend.

County Public Health Director Heidi Bond reminds people to practice social distancing and, if sick, stay home!  Wear a mask when you are unable to maintain a 6-foot distance from others.

As of today there are:

10 Testing Sites Open As NYC Cases Drop


10 Testing Sites Open

As NYC Cases Drop

NEW YORK CITY – Governor Cuomo, during today’s briefing, announced that New York State will open 10 additional testing sites – one for each zip code – in New York City COVID hotspots.

Controlling the virus’ spread in the city’s hotspots, which are located in predominately low income and minority communities, is a top priority as it moves toward Phase 1 of reopening on June 8, the governor said. Six testing sites will be in the Bronx, three will be in Brooklyn and one will be in Queens.

Imagine Dining Out In Middle Of Street


Imagine Dining Out

In Middle Of Street

You may see Oneonta’s mayor on empty Main Street, but Gary Herzig is imagining the clink of wine glasses and smell of garlic. The city’s Strive & Thrive Committee is considering closing streets for outdoor dining a day or two per week this summer as a boost to restaurants, all subject to social distancing, of course. (Ian Austin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – The hottest restaurant in Oneonta could soon Be … Main Street?

“One thing our ‘Survive and Thrive’ task force is exploring is shutting down streets to traffic for special dining events,” said Mayor Gary Herzig. “We don’t have a plan yet, but we’re looking into what streets we could close when and how that would affect traffic downtown.”

As COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease, restaurants are looking for ways to bring customers in to dine while maintaining social distancing.

“It will be a while before restaurants can fully reopen,” said Herzig. “They won’t be able to operate as they did previously, they won’t be able to have a full house. Having outdoor seating allows restaurants to operate at greater capacity, while allowing people to feel safer.”

Restaurants are slated for reopening under Phase Three of un-PAUSE – mid-June at the earliest – but Herzig said that no guidelines have been issued for what that reopening might look like.

Currently, the city does not require permits for restaurants to put tables out in front of their restaurants, so long as there is still five feet of sidewalk for pedestrians.

“We think it’s a great idea,” said Barbara Ann Heegan, president, Otsego County Chamber of Commerce. “Anything that can bring people downtown and let them see their friends and have that camaraderie from a safe distance.”

Jaclyn Origoni, who owns Latte Lounge with her husband Adrian, said she had reached out to Herzig about putting tables in Muller Plaza.

“We don’t have much room to expand, but putting tables there would benefit not only us, but the other restaurants on Main Street as well,” she said. “Dining outside is a safe way to support local businesses, but not create a risk in gathering.”

Heegan said that the Hill City Grill and WiseGuys Sammy’s have both expressed interest in putting out tables in front of their restaurants.

Heegan also floated the idea of encouraging diners to take their to-go dinners to Neahwa or Wilber Park. “We could put more tables down there, or people could just picnic, as long as they’re social distancing,” she said. “We could even have bands playing some nights.”

State Ag & Markets Law Exempts Auction House

Unadilla One Raises COVID-19 Fears

State Ag & Markets Law

Exempts Auction House

This notice has been posted on the Unadilla Livestock Auction website since it was discovered a patron without a mask at the May 16 auction later tested positive for COVID-19.



UNADILLA – Things had been going so well.

Until the weekend, Otsego County had not had a positive COVID-19 case in more than three weeks.

Then on Friday, May 22, the county announced that an individual who attended a Unadilla Livestock Auction had later tested positive for the virus.

The individual, who is not a resident of this county, had been at a May 16 auction
from 1:30 to 9:30 p.m. and was not wearing a mask, according the Otsego County Health Department. There were about 150 others present.

“I think this is why the governor issued the executive order,” said county Health Director Heidi Bond. “To reduce the density of people.”

The livestock auction falls under the state Department of Agriculture & Markets, the auction was not covered by Governor Cuomo’s order that gatherings be limited to less than 10 people, Bond said.

“From what I understand they didn’t have social distancing in place,” she said. “There was crowding and people were standing within 6 feet of each other without a mask.”

The county Health Department issued an alert Friday warning local residents who may have been there to monitor themselves for symptoms.

So far, only one person has reported symptoms, but the test is not back yet, Bond said.
Also, in the past five days, two additional positive cases were reported. Neither was related to the auction, Bond said. Both individuals likely contracted the disease in a healthcare setting outside the county, one as an employee and the other as a patient, she said.

The Health Department is working with the auction house to better protect those who attend.
Bond also stressed the importance of personal responsibility as county residents work to avoid the virus and prevent others from getting infected.

“We all have to take personal responsibility,” she said. “If we don’t like what is going on at a business then don’t go there.”

She also said people who feel ill should make a point of not going out in public.

The case at the auction is a scenario that could have led to a cluster of cases locally, and because people come from other areas to attend the auction it could have led to a spread. So far, however, Bond is not aware of any cases in other counties that might be related.

The two week incubation period will be up May 30, and most people start to show symptoms within seven days, so she is hopeful that the region dodged a bullet, she said.

Sheriff Richard Devlin Jr. said he had a complaint about the fact that the auction was still operating several weeks ago, but determined that they were deemed an essential business and pointed to state Ag & Markets.

“The governor’s made all these stipulations to put it back on local law enforcement, but no tools to deal with it,” he said.

Devlin said he had never been to the auction house and could not say whether it was large enough that 150 people could achieve proper social distancing while there.

Sidewalk Sales OK’d All Summer In Village


Sidewalk Sales OK’d

All Summer In Village

Mel’s at 22 proprietor Brian Wrubleski and daughter Alex Guenther were setting up tables on the sidewalk yesterday with social distancing in mind.  The upgrades at the Main and Chestnut intersection in Cooperstown is giving Mel’s more space for outdoor dining, which is being encouraged in the village this year, along with sidewalk sales. (Jim Kevlin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – It may not feel like a “special event,” but this summer, Cooperstown is going to celebrate – with a sale.

“By establishing a ‘special event,’ we can allow for sidewalk vending in certain locations,” said Deputy Mayor Cindy Falk told her Village Board colleagues Tuesday, May 26. “A lot of our shops are in smaller spaces, so it may be advantageous to them to be able to sell on the sidewalk.”

Cuomo, Trump To Meet Today At White House


Cuomo, Trump To Meet

Today At White House

ALBANY –  Governor Cuomo Tuesday announced the Mid-Hudson Region has met all seven metrics and could begin Phase One of reopening, joining the Capital Region, Western New York, Central New York, North Country, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley Regions, which includes Otsego County.

Long Island is still on track to reopen today, May 27, when their contact tracing operation comes online and if deaths continue to decline.

First Local Case In Three Weeks Reported Today

First Local Case

In Three Weeks

Reported Today

CDC image of the coronavirus

COOPERSTOWN – The first case of coronavirus in more than three weeks has surfaced in Otsego County, county Public Health Director Heidi Bond reported this afternoon.

All contacts have been notified and are in quarantine, she said.

This case not associated with the Unadilla Livestock Auction; Bond issued an alert Friday afternoon after learning an out-of-county individual who attended without a mask had later come down with COVID-19.

Worst Hit Regions May Reopen Soon, Cuomo Announces


Worst Hit Regions

May Reopen Soon,

Cuomo Announces


ALBANY – On Long Island, the number of coronavirus deaths is continuing to drop and contract tracing is coming online, and if this trend continues Long Island could be ready to open by Wednesday, Governor Cuomo announced today at his daily briefing.

After New York City, Long Island and Westchester County were the hardest his areas in the state.





Mask-Less Out-Of-County Bidder

Has Turned Up With Coronavirus

An out-of-county individual not wearing a mask at the May 16 Unadilla Auction sale has been reported with coronavirus. (Unadilla Auction photo)

UNADILLA – People who attended last Saturday’s sale (May 16) at the Unadilla Livestock Auction may have been exposed to coronavirus and should self-monitor for symptoms through Saturday, May 30, the county Health Department announced this afternoon.

Anyone who was there and is experiencing fever, sore throat, shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and sudden loss of the sense of taste or smell should contact their doctor or call the COVID-19 Hotline (607-547-5555) or the health department (607-547-4316)

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