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News of Otsego County

COVID-19

STERNBERG: COVID – Here we go again

Column by Richard Sternberg, M.D.

COVID: Here we go again

There are 3006 counties, 14 boroughs, 11 census areas, 64 parishes, and multiple independent cities in the United States. The good news is that The Center for Disease Control reports that only 79 of these have a high incidence of COVID transmission.

The bad news is that of the 79, 36 or almost half are in or surround Central New York. Risk in Otsego County is only moderate, but it is contiguous to high-risk areas.

On Friday of last week, Otsego County reported 47 new COVID cases. This represents approximately a four-to-five-fold increase from one month ago. Testing positivity is up to 8.8%. What are we doing wrong?

On the relatively good side, there have been only 16 deaths year-to-date in Otsego County attributed to COVID. Case rate is increasing, but it does not appear that the death rate is increasing, at least not significantly.

In the past week alone, the person whom I went to visit on Saturday wouldn’t let me in his house because his wife tested positive that morning. The visit devolved into a shouting conversation from about 60 feet apart.

Fully vaccinated Governor Hochul tests positive for Covid-19

Fully vaccinated Governor
Hochul tests positive for Covid-19

After testing positive for Covid, Governor Hochul issued the following statement over the weekend: “Today I tested positive for COVID-19. Thankfully, I’m vaccinated and boosted, and I’m asymptomatic. I’ll be isolating and working remotely this week. A reminder to all New Yorkers: get vaccinated and boosted, get tested, and stay home if you don’t feel well.”

Out of My Shell

Column by Dr. Richard Sternberg

Out of My Shell

Last week, I took a major step for myself and poked my head out of my shell. I decided that the situation with COVID is really not going to get much better. It is going to be endemic like the flu or the common cold and we’re going to have to deal with it. It’s time to get life back to as normal as possible.

I decided to take a trip to New York City, specifically Manhattan. There were several things that I wanted to do, and I haven’t been able to do for over two years. My personal schedule gave me a small window of opportunity to make the trip. I was also interested to see the response in the city to the continued presence of COVID and increase in lab-positive cases.

I went to a museum and I went to a Broadway show off Times Square. I also had a report from a friend of the crowd reaction at New York Rangers hockey game.

One day I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art specifically to see a special event, a major retrospective of the works of Winslow Homer. By the way, if you have any interest in American art, you must get down to see this exhibit. It is worth the trip. These major retrospectives of Homer occur only approximately once every 25 years. This one is every bit as spectacular as the last one was in the mid-90s.

Stealth Omicron

Stealth Omicron

By Richard Sternberg, M.D.

While Omicron appears to be peaking in New York overall (though not yet in Otsego County) we have now been told that there is a new “stealth” version of Omicron named BA.2 that is beginning to replace the variant we have been experiencing for the last two months. While it is too early to know for sure, BA.2 does not seem to be more virulent than the original Omicron BA.1, but appears to be even more transmissible. And while not likely to lead to another disastrous surge it will probably extend its length.

About a month after Omicron first appeared in Africa, scientists saw a unique variant that carried many but not all of its mutations and had new mutations of its own (labeled BA.2). Additionally, they found a third variant — BA.3 — which appears to be an amalgam of BA.1 and BA.2, theorized to have resulted from BA.1 and BA.2 infecting someone at the same time, exchanging genetic information with the new variant, then replicating.

BA.1 contains a mutation rendering it invisible to the standard PCR test. BA.2 doesn’t contain this mutation, allowing all three coronavirus genes to be seen in the test. BA.2 therefore can be separated from BA.1. It can also be separated by genome sequencing, though that isn’t routinely done because it is much more expensive and time consuming.

COVID update for February 2

COVID update for February 2

The latest information from the Otsego County Health Department shows:

68 new cases

5 hospitalized

0  new deaths reported

11.7  seven-day average percentage positive

Otsego County and all of New York State remains under an indoor-mask mandate from Governor Kathy Hochul, with exceptions under certain conditions when proof of vaccination is required for entry to an indoor public facility. Read more about New York State’s mask requirement at this link.

COVID update for February 1

COVID update for February 1

The latest information from the Otsego County Health Department shows:

46 new cases

4 hospitalized

1  new deaths reported

11.9  seven-day average percentage positive

Otsego County and all of New York State remains under an indoor-mask mandate from Governor Kathy Hochul, with exceptions under certain conditions when proof of vaccination is required for entry to an indoor public facility. Read more about New York State’s mask requirement at this link.

In Memoriam Lloyd H. Johnson, 83 April 24 1938 – January 30, 2022

In Memoriam

Lloyd H. Johnson, 83

April 24, 1938 – January 30, 2022

Lloyd H. Johnson

ONEONTA – Lloyd H. Johnson, 83, passed away January 30, 2022 at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown from complications of Covid and underlying health conditions.

He was born April 24, 1938 in Halcott Center, the son of Milbert and Edna (Simmons) Johnson.

He married Rosanne Brickwedde on November 17, 1956 at St. Mary’s Church in Oneonta. Together they owned and operated the family dairy farm, Fairlane Farm on Delhi Stage until the early ‘80’s. Lloyd then drove truck until he was stricken with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. After a grueling recovery he went to work at Ouleout Golf Course in Franklin for close to 30 years.

Court grants governor full stay on masks

Court grants governor full stay on masks

New York’s Appellate court on January 31 granted a full stay to Governor Kathy Hochul’s mask mandate for all public indoor spaces for the remainder of the appeals process currently underway.

A state Supreme Court judge first struck down the mandate as unconstitutional on January 24, a second court overturned that decision on the Governor’s appeal. The January 31 Appellate court ruling keeps the mandate alive through the next court date in the appeal – March 2, 2022.

The governor last week also extended her mandate until February 10, promising to revisit her decision biweekly. That means, technically, the mandate could come down before March 2.

She first announced the “winter surge” requirement on December 10 with an executive order mandating masks to be worn in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a proof-of-vaccination requirement for anyone 12 years of age or older.

COVID update for January 27

COVID update for January 27

The latest information from the Otsego County Health Department shows:

81 new cases

8 hospitalized

0  new deaths reported

13.5  seven-day average percentage positive

Otsego County and all of New York State remains under an indoor-mask mandate from Governor Kathy Hochul, with exceptions under certain conditions when proof of vaccination is required for entry to an indoor public facility. Read more about New York State’s mask requirement at this link.

COVID Update for January 26

COVID update for January 26

The latest information from the Otsego County Health Department shows:

79 new cases

9 hospitalized

0  new deaths reported

13.6  seven-day average percentage positive

Otsego County and all of New York State remains under an indoor-mask mandate from Governor Kathy Hochul, with exceptions under certain conditions when proof of vaccination is required for entry to an indoor public facility. Read more about New York State’s mask requirement at this link.

Editorial: Hello in there

Editorial: Hello in there

Where have all the people gone?
Seems like there’s no one hangin’ on.
Look through the windows,
The houses are empty.
Hey!
Everybody’s out of town.
Seems like
I’m the only one around.
Hey!
Better send some people down.
Everyone on Earth
Is out of town.

Hal David wrote that apocalyptic lyric back in 1970, Burt Bacharach added some appropriately dyspeptic music with a wobbly trombone, B.J. Thomas sang it with the right tinge of loneliness.

The song came to mind as we stood at the top of Cooperstown’s Main Street late one frigid afternoon last week. The stroll to the post office didn’t do much to counter the desolation — plenty of doors displayed some semblance of the “closed until March” sign that turns up every year around this time.

As it must. It’s our slow season, that time of year when New Yorkers become temporary Floridians, when business owners can grab some much-deserved rest in between busier times, when people can escape the cold.

COVID update for January 25

COVID update for January 25

The latest information from the Otsego County Health Department shows:

104 new cases

7  hospitalized

0  new deaths reported

14.5  seven-day average percentage positive

Otsego County and all of New York State remains under an indoor-mask mandate from Governor Kathy Hochul, with exceptions under certain conditions when proof of vaccination is required for entry to an indoor public facility. Read more about New York State’s mask requirement at this link.

Breaking: Appeals court puts mask mandate back in place

Breaking: Appeals court puts mask mandate back in place

Governor Hochul’s mask mandate is back on – the office of New York Attorney General Tish James says an appellate judge granted a stay in the lawsuit late Tuesday afternoon (January 25) and the mandate remains in full effect while the case is in appeal.

A State Supreme Court judge on Long Island ruled the mandate unconstitutional on January 24; the ruling now proceeds through the court systems appeals process (Appellate division and then, possibly, to the Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state.

New York State Supreme Court judge overturns Governor Hochul’s indoor mask mandate

New York State Supreme Court judge overturns Governor Hochul’s indoor mask mandate

A New York State Supreme Court judge on Long Island overturned Governor Kathy Hochul’s indoor mask mandate – currently in place through February 1 – ruling the governor lacks the emergency powers to support the requirement.

Nassau County judge Thomas Rademaker ruled late on January 24 that the power to issue such a mandate remains only with the state Legislature after lawmakers approved a law in March 2021 to curb a governor’s authority to issue executive orders during a state emergency. That law walked back a March 2020 law giving former governor Andrew Cuomo widespread executive order power; he issued hundreds such orders during the first year of the pandemic.

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