News of Otsego County

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



3 COVID Cases Surface, 2 Others Have Recovered

3 COVID Cases Surface,

2 Others Have Recovered

Local Count: 2 Friday; 3 Total Today

CDC image of the coronavirus

COOPERSTOWN – Three more COVID-19 cases were reported in Otsego County over the Fourth of July, for a total of three active cases locally right now, according to the county Department of Health.

Friday, there were two active cases, but there were two recoveries over the weekend, according to the count released this afternoon by Heidi Bond, county public health director.

Here are the latest number as of today:

Active COVID-19 Cases Remain At 2 In County

Active COVID-19 Cases

Remain At 2 In County

CDC image of the coronavirus

COOPERSTOWN – With one new case since Monday and one additional recovery, there remain two active cases of coronavirus in Otsego County.

However, Public Health Director Heidi Bond advises the public, “Please note that the coronavirus is still circulating in our community. Be safe while enjoying the holiday weekend.”

She also reminds people that visitors coming from 16 states on Governor Cuomo’s advisory list must quarantine for 14 days. With that advisory in place, the number of people in quarantine rose to 31 from 16 on Monday.

Bassett: We Cannot Turn Away Patients Who Refuse To Wear Masks

Bassett Can’t Turn Away

Patients Without Masks

All Must Be Treated, But Visitors,

Staff, All Others Must Don Them

COOPERSTOWN – Though all employees, visitors and vendors are required to wear a mask in Bassett Healthcare facilities, the hospital confirmed that no patient will be denied treatment for refusing to wear a mask.

“It is still the exception that anyone coming to the hospital or clinics refuses to wear a mask,” said Karen Huxtable-Hooker, public relations director. “But Bassett cannot turn away patients who refuse to wear a mask. We must provide treatment and care to all.”

With 3 COVID Cases In City, Mayor Reaffirms Need For Caution
Murphy’s Anti-Racism Resolution Approved

With 3 COVID Cases In Oneonta,

Mayor Reaffirms Need For Caution

Common Council Member Luke Murphy, First Ward, second from right, reads his first resolution, decrying racism and injustice for all people in the City of Oneonta, as part of tonight’s meeting.

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – With three new COVID-19 cases confirmed in the City of Oneonta, Mayor Gary Herzig implored business owners and citizens to continue wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands.

“We’ve had six weeks without any cases, so to have three new ones is a significant wake-up call,” he said during tonight’s Common Council meeting. “People are telling me that they see that things have lapsed, people aren’t wearing masks in stores or on the streets. But the risk is still real.”

Additionally, the Mohawk Valley cases on the whole were also continuing to rise, putting the region at risk for being put back on PAUSE.

COLUMN: If Numbers Keep Rising In Mohawk Valley Region, County May Be Re-Closed


If Numbers Keep Rising

In Mohawk Valley Region,

County May Be Re-Closed


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.

At his news conference today, Governor Cuomo made public the result of the latest antibody testing story for all of New York State. The numbers don’t look good for the Mohawk Valley region (which includes Otsego County), and the governor made a brief comment to that effect.

The antibody testing indicates that somebody’s had the disease.

The Mohawk Valley had the largest percentage gain of patients who took the test that turned up positive. Previous tests showed 2.7 percent positive; we now have 5.5 percent positive. This is a gain of 2.8 percent or more than twice the rate previously. This puts us in the top four regions in the state in terms of percentage positive.

Only New York City, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley have higher numbers   We also have the second largest increase in percentage with a gain of 2.8 percent for a relative gain from our previous one of over 100 percent. Only the North Country had a higher relative percent increase and it started out at about half our rate.

Stressed By COVID? Bassett Adds Mental Health Hotline

Stressed By COVID?

Bassett Opens New

Mental Health Hotline


COOPERSTOWN – Bassett Healthcare wants everyone to know that they do not have to feel alone if they are feeling stress about the Coronavirus crisis.

The hospital network has now created a hotline for anyone who needs help handling the pressures and concerns of these unusual times.

“Many people, although they may have family members in the area and are staying in touch, still feel isolated and alone,” said Ann Marie Mills, the licensed clinical social worker at Bassett Healthcare Network who is leading the 10 person hotline team. “It is often useful to them to have a non-family member or friend to feel their worries and concerns.”

The hotline, 607-322-0157, is staffed 24/7 and is free of charge.

NORTHRUP: County Response Tops


County Primus Inter Paras

To the Editor:

Otsego County’s response to The Plague has been as good as anywhere in Europe or Asia and better than most places in America.

For that reason, the county is on track to safely reopen ahead of almost any other place in America, having met Governor Cuomo’s requirements.

By stark contrast, Texas is next to last in testing per capita, there are no contract tracers, little social distancing and few masks.

Texas’s unsafe “reopening plan” is simply a date, and the day the state reopened without regional rollouts, it recorded its highest number of new cases.

Efforts to control the spread of The Plague in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin were trumped by the governor’s hasty order, which was based entirely on the political science of the Gregorian Calendar.

By comparison, New York State’s response is positively First World and Otsego County is now literally the first of the first. Congratulations to all concerned.


HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Discuss Geography Of Baseball 05-21-20

Discuss Geography Of Baseball


FIELD TRIP – 1 – 2 p.m. ‘Geography: Baseball Coast To Coast’ teaches students about effect of Geography on people through baseball. Answer the questions where are baseball teams formed & why, how do people & physical environment influence the game, more through research and fun creative activities. Free, registration required. Visit for info.

DAILY BRIEFING: Block COVID-19 Business Bailouts, Cuomo Declares


Block COVID-19

Business Bailouts,

Cuomo Declares

ALBANY  – Governor Cuomo today announced some members of New York’s Congressional Delegation will propose the “Americans First Law” to help prevent corporate bailouts following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cuomo did not list Otsego County’s congressman, Antonio Delgado, D-19, among the representatives supporting the legislation.

Only One COVID Case Left Locally

Only One COVID

Case Left Locally


COOPERSTOWN – Just one case.

That’s where Otsego County’s COVID-19 numbers are right now.

The Tuesday, May 5, data from the county Health Department showed, for the first time, no new cases for the past five days.

Of the 62 total cases found in the county since March 23, 57 had recovered and four had succumbed to the virus. The one remaining patient is hospitalized.

County Public Health Director Heidi Bond pronounced the numbers “great news,” but said that the virus is still circulating in surrounding counties and new cases are being reported.

To the north in Herkimer County, for example, there are still 18 active cases, though no one is currently hospitalized.

Bond expressed optimism about careful reopening in the near future.

“As a region we do not yet meet the criteria to open up,” she said. “Our region may meet the criteria by the 15th and then we will open utilizing guidance put out by the state and the CDC.”

That doesn’t mean this ordeal is over, she cautioned. “I don’t think anyone should think we are out of the woods yet.”

Governor Cuomo has designated May 15 as the end of his “New York PAUSE” period in which statewide social distancing measures must be in place. After the 15th, some regions may be allowed to slowly reopen under strict guidelines.

He announced Friday, May 1, that schools across the state will not reopen this year.

At Bassett Healthcare Network’s flagship hospital in Cooperstown, doctors are awaiting the go-ahead to begin outpatient and elective surgeries in earnest.

Under New York PAUSE, such surgeries had been put on hold statewide so that hospitals could free up beds for the possible wave of COVID-19 patients, but most of those beds were never needed. Without those procedures, revenue is being lost and staff is being affected.

Cuomo announced last week that hospitals in some counties could resume the surgeries, but Otsego was not on the list. Even facilities in Herkimer County, with its larger number of COVID cases, was allowed to start up again. Some of those facilities are even in Bassett’s network, like Little Falls Hospital.

Bassett Hospital President William LeCates said it’s likely that Otsego County didn’t make the list because there are fewer intensive care beds here.

“Bassett has the only intensive care beds in Otsego County,” he said. “They want to make sure that we have plenty of intensive care beds at any point in time in case a recurrence of COVID occurs.”

Such recurrences have happened in other areas, and hospitals everywhere need to be prepared, he said. Bassett would need to be able to provide beds for COVID cases, as well as seriously ill patients and elective surgery patients if a sudden resurgence occurred.

LeCates said Bassett has that capacity and has now submitted its evidence to the state.

“I think we have a very favorable case that we are well prepared to do all aspects of care for our population,” he said.

LeCates said the community has reason to be cautiously optimistic about reopening.

“One measurement of success is the low number of positive cases we see in Otsego County,” he said.

Those low numbers reflect the very careful attention people in our communities are paying to social distancing,” he said. “It can be very difficult and a burden for businesses and for people’s social practices, but it has brought us success.”

And if the virus does come back here?

“We have learned a great deal about it and will be better prepared,” Lecates said. “Researchers and doctors are learning more about the disease every day, and communities now have experience with working together in a health crisis.

“There’s a strong partnership between Otsego County, our hospital system and local organizations, employers and schools. I think that close partnership is so important in our ability to respond to situations that haven’t happened yet.”

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