News of Otsego County


Mohawk Valley, Central New York hospitals still on hold for elective surgical procedures

Mohawk Valley, Central New York hospitals still on hold for elective surgical procedures

By Richard Sternberg, M.D.

The son of two former members of my religious congregation died of complications of COVID over this past weekend. He was 38 years old. Of course, his parents are devastated. He was an adamant anti-vaxxer.

Currently, in the intensive care unit at Bassett Hospital, which, by the way, is full, there is a 30-something female who has complications of COVID. I’m told that she had been vaccinated, but I don’t know her booster status or whether she was eligible.

New York ordered every hospital in the state’s Mohawk Valley, Central New York, and Finger Lakes regions to its list of “impacted facilities” to stop non-essential, non-urgent elective surgeries “due to the increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations” in those regions. That includes the whole of the Bassett Healthcare System with the exception of O’Connor Hospital in Delhi.

COVID Update January 6

COVID Update January 6

The latest information from the Otsego County Health Department shows:

671 active cases

154  new cases

6  hospitalized

0  new deaths reported

14.4 percent  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.

KN95 masks to be distributed at Milford COVID test site

KN95 masks to be distributed at Milford COVID test site

KN95 masks will be made available (FREE) for distribution to the public, beginning tomorrow morning at the American Legion COVID test site in the Village of Milford, located at 86 West Main Street in Milford, as well as the SUNY Oneonta COVID test site, located at 26 SW Dorm Drive, Oneonta. An additional distribution site is being established at the Richfield Springs Fire Department in the coming week. Details will be made available as soon as dates and times have been confirmed.

Editorial: Omicron’s Paradox

Omicron’s Paradox

A COVID-weary public confronts the conundrum daily: Is this good news? Is it bad news?

We have to admit that we’re a little bit confused.

The Omicron caseload is frightening on its surface — ridiculously high numbers on a daily basis, top-of-the-fold newspaper coverage, lead-story status.

We’re so attuned to scary numbers and frightening graphs that when we hear about record-shattering daily positive tests coming back, the first thing we want to do is retreat to our quarantine corners and hide. We worry that we’re all going to become experts in the Greek alphabet before this is finished.
But then we look past the raw data and hear the experts say that with Omicron, it’s important to take a more analytical approach. Governor Kathy Hochul, on Monday, said, “People are testing at a much higher rate. It’s shocking in the scale of the number of people who are testing positive, but we’re grateful cases are not presenting themselves as severely as they did with Delta.” She cited encouraging news out of South Africa, where Omicron first was detected — a sharp jolt in positives followed by an equally sharp decline. “We have so many more defenses this time,” she said.

Governor “Winter Surge 2.0” briefing includes mask mandate extension, school opening plans

Governor “Winter Surge 2.0” briefing includes mask mandate extension, school opening plans

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced she will extend her indoor mask mandate by two weeks, keeping it in place across New York through January 29, 2022 rather than its original January 15 expiration.“This is all geared toward keeping the economy open,” she said during her New Year’s Eve “Winter Surge 2.0” press briefing. “The alternative is to shut it all down.”“The reason that we don’t have to do this is that we now have the defenses in place – testing, vaccines, boosters, masks – that we didn’t have in March 2020,” she said. “We can take steps to make sure we’re protected against Omicron.”

Greetings, Friends (with apologies to The New Yorker)

Greetings, Friends (with apologies to The New Yorker)

Greetings, Friends! The time is nigh
To bid this Covid Year good-bye.
We’ve had enough, we’ve played our parts
Stayed home alone filling Amazon carts.
And cleaning our closets and working online
Making do with our WiFi that’s not always fine.

We’ve said goodbye to some friends, to some relatives too
Our families we’ve not seen, travel’s been so taboo.
Goodbye ’21, au revoir, off you go 
Adios and kwaheri, arrivederci, adjo. 
Go away ’21! But wait! Not before
TFJ has its way with some thank-yous galore.

New York opens COVID-19 testing facility in Milford after Otsego County officials cite need for access

New York opens COVID-19 testing facility in Milford
after Otsego County officials cite need for access

New York Governor Kathy Hochul responded this week to a request from Otsego County officials and will locate a new, state-run COVID-19 testing site in Milford.

The new site — one of only 13 throughout the state — opens Wednesday, December 29 at the American Legion Post at 86 West Main Street; its hours of operation are as follows: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.; Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon.

Milford will offer RT-PCR testing upon its launch, with plans to add rapid antigen and rapid PCR tests within a few days of Wednesday’s opening.

Life during COVID: December in Otsego

Life during COVID: December in Otsego

By Richard Sternberg M.D.

Checking the Otsego County Department of Health dashboard on December 20 showed a distinct uptick in a number of cases of COVID in recent days. Most of these still are probably from Delta, but also are beginning to reflect the Omicron variant. The website did not identify the specific variant of those cases.

Dr. Fauci says the number of cases of the Omicron across the United States doubles every two to three days. That in itself is very disturbing. The good news is that those who have been fully vaccinated and, where indicated, have received booster shots, generally show mild symptoms. The number of patients in intensive care units over the total number of people who tested positive shows a decline from those of a year ago. Additionally, the Paxlovid antiviral medication, when available and when properly indicated, seems to decrease the risk of serious complications by up to 90 percent.

NYS to force temporary halt to electives at Bassett in Cooperstown

NYS to force temporary halt to electives at Bassett in Cooperstown

The New York State Department of Health on Monday (December 20) added Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown to its list of health care facilities with “minimal capacity,” forcing a temporary halt to elective surgeries and procedures for at least two weeks beginning later this week.

Under a November Executive Order from Governor Kathy Hochul, the state bars facilities with a staffed bed capacity of 10 percent or less from performing certain elective procedures and surgeries. Certain electives remain allowed, including those relating to cancer and diagnostic reviews, neurosurgery, intractable pain, trauma, cardiac with symptoms, and others.

Governor issues statewide indoor mask mandate beginning Monday

Governor issues statewide

indoor mask mandate

beginning Monday, December 13

Governor Kathy Hochul this morning announced masks will be required to be worn in all public places throughout the whole of New York State beginning Monday, December 13 and effective through January 15, 2022.

Businesses or venues that implement the mask requirement must ensure all patrons two years and older wear a mask at all times while indoors. Those businesses and venues that implement a vaccine requirement for patrons and staff will not be subject to the order.

A violation of any provision of this measure is subject to all civil and criminal penalties, including a maximum fine of $1,000 for each violation. The state has tasked local health departments with enforcing the new requirement.

State Commissioner of Health Mary Bassett issued the order after the state’s weekly seven-day case rate and hospitalizations increased and as the holiday season shifts into full gear. Since Thanksgiving, the statewide seven-day average case rate has increased by 43 percent and hospitalizations by nearly 30 percent.

The new business and venue requirements extend to patrons and staff.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

In 24 months, we have learned many things about responding to a pandemic of a dangerous disease.

Don’t ignore it.

Take reasonable precautions to prevent the spread.

1918 is still relevant.

Work on treatments and immunizations and use them when available.

And more: Lessen our travel. Wear a mask if it’s transmitted by air. Avoid any behavior that promotes spread.

Work hard to do all the above. Don’t panic. That won’t help.

Editorial: Omicron, is it?

Omicron, is it?

It sounds a lot like something out of Hollywood — one of those action/sci-fi movies that demand we suspend our disbelief more than usual and go along for the ride in a world where it can’t happen here.

The problem, of course, is that it can. And it is.

We had barely dried the Thanksgiving dinner dishes when word came out of the World Health Organization that it was meeting in emergency session over a newly discovered Covid-19 variant, this one seemingly originating out of South Africa. Stock markets plunged on Black Friday. President Biden and other world leaders clamped down on international travel from the nations most immediately affected. Governor Kathy Hochul wasted no time declaring a state of emergency across New York to last through January 15, 2022.

COVID update December 1, 2021

COVID update
December 1, 2021

COVID cases are steadily increasing in Otsego County with 77 new cases reported today, 8 hospitalizations, and 2 new deaths, according to the Otsego County Department of Health.

There are 267 active cases in the county currently.

Otsego County is considered an area of high community transmission. The CDC and DOH recommend wearing masks while indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

Update: According to an Otsego County DOH press release, 22 of the 77 new cases were from November 18 to November 28, originated in nursing homes, and were not previously reported to the DOH.

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