News of Otsego County


Protesters against vaccine mandate march to A.O. Fox Hospital in Oneonta
Anti-vaccine protesters leaving Neahwa Park in Oneonta on Friday, Sept. 17. (Kevin Limit/AllOtsego).

Protesters against vaccine mandate march to A.O. Fox Hospital in Oneonta

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to

ONEONTA — Hundreds of protesters, along with Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield, marched to A.O. Fox Hospital and through Main Street Friday, Sept. 17, to protest the vaccine mandate put in place for healthcare workers.

The protesters chanted slogans such as “stop the mandate” as they walked through downtown Oneonta towards the hospital. There were signs that said “unmask our children” and “protect our liberties.”

The vaccine mandate from Bassett Healthcare was in response to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s mandate that all healthcare workers should be vaccinated.

Prior to the march, the protesters rallied at Damaschke Field.

“I’m here to support the medical professionals and support their right to not have an injection they’re not confident,” Salka told “Last year they were heroes, this year they’re zeroes.”

COVID Update: One new death reported in Otsego County

COVID Update
One new death reported in Otsego County

STAFF REPORT • Special to

One new death has been reported in Otsego County, according to the Otsego County Department of Health (DOH).

As of Friday, Sept. 17, there are a total of 166 active cases with 13 reported today.

The DOH encourages those who haven’t been vaccinated yet to get vaccinated as it is the most effective way to combat the COVID virus.


Editorial: Live free and die?

Live free and die?

With the news this week that the Lewis County General Hospital in Lowville was going to “pause” operations of its maternity services because of the resignations of several members of that department who refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the not unexpected consequences of the recent New York state and federal mandates for healthcare workers suddenly hit very close to home. While it is certainly difficult to envision both the future of these workers when no other work options exist under the circumstances and the potentially disastrous impact of the mandates on a notoriously understaffed profession, one cannot help but wonder what possible reason these workers have for surrendering their professions by refusing a vaccine that has been well proven as safe and effective, and is without question saving millions of people from a devastating disease and a gruesome, untimely death.

Museum reinterpretation
The historic outdoor village at The Farmers’ Museum has been a good go-to location for people wanting to get out and do things despite the coronavirus pandemic. (contributed)

Museum reinterpretation

The Farmers’ Museum has remade itself during the pandemic
now it will turn one of its most popular weekends
into a month-long ‘Celebration’

By PATRICK DEWEY • Special to

As museums adapt to the coronavirus pandemic, The Farmers’ Museum has embraced its outdoor space and turned its living museum into a socially distant outing that still appeals to visitors.

With the rise of the Delta variant, the museum’s staff is replacing its weekend Harvest Festival with “Celebration of Autumn.”

The festivities are designed to spread out fall themes and happenings over a month-long period from Sept. 18 through Oct. 11. The goal is to incorporate cherished activities from the traditional weekend festival into early autumn at the museum.

Letter to Commissioner of Health requests unvaccinated healthcare workers be allowed to work past vaccine deadline

Letter to Commissioner of Health
requests unvaccinated healthcare workers
be allowed to work past vaccine deadline

Staff Report • Special to

In a letter addressed to Howard Zucker M.D., commissioner of health at the New York State Department of Health, Stephen Hanse, president and CEO of New York State Health Facilities Association, requested that unvaccinated healthcare workers be allowed to work, at least temporarily, past the Sept. 27 vaccine deadline due to worker shortage.

In a survey conducted by NYSHFA, it was found that 94% of nursing providers said they are experiencing staff shortages with 59% saying that it was negatively impacting their ability to perform their roles as healthcare providers.

Opinion by Charles Hyman, M.D.: Delta variant or not, vaccines are best option

Opinion by Charles Hyman, M.D. Delta variant or not, vaccines are best option

There is a lot in the news about the Delta variant of COVID-19 that is now spreading across the United States, threatening to move us back to a time of lockdown, universal masking and social distancing. With all this buzz, I wanted to offer my friends and neighbors some helpful background information. Namely: What is this Delta variant and how did it occur?

COVID breakdown for August

COVID breakdown for August

Staff Report • Special to

Otsego County had an increasing number of COVID cases in August. Community transmission is considered high.

According to the Otsego County Department of Health (DOH), there 380 total cases in August with 52% unvaccinated and 48% vaccinated. Everyone hospitalized due to COVID, a total of six people, were unvaccinated individuals, including the two most recent deaths locally from the virus.

The majority of cases occurred in people between the ages of 25 and 55.

In addition, there have been almost 60 new cases reported in the past two days, 30 on Friday, Sept. 3, and 29 on Thursday, Sept. 2. That brings the total active number of cases in Otsego County to 134, a positivity rate of 5.5%.

The CDC recommends wearing a mask indoors in public regardless of vaccination status in order to protect from the delta variant as well as to avoid spreading it to others.

The Otsego County DOH recommends getting the vaccine as it greatly reduces the likelihood of hospitalization and is considered the most effective tool against the COVID virus.


Bassett Healthcare has Sept. 27 deadline for employees to be vaccinated

Bassett Healthcare has Sept. 27,
deadline for employees to be vaccinated

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to

COOPERSTOWN — In response to the state government mandating vaccinations for all healthcare workers, Bassett Healthcare has given its employees a deadline of Monday, Sept. 27, in order to have the first dose of the vaccine.

The mandate does not offer room for religious exemption but it does allow medical exemptions.

An internal email, penned by Dr. Tommy Ibrahim, CEO of Bassett Healthcare, said if employees are not vaccinated by Sept. 27, “you will no longer meet the regulatory requirements to be employed by Bassett Healthcare Network.”

High School Sports by Nate Lull: Now more than ever, September holds a year’s worth of promises

High School Sports by Nate Lull
Now more than ever, September holds a year’s worth of promises

The last 18 months have been hard for all of us, but it has been especially difficult for high school athletes. The coronavirus pandemic ended playing careers early, dashed championship dreams and changed local record books forever. However, as this fall season begins, it feels like maybe we are getting a fresh start.

Sure, we know it could all come to a crashing halt at any moment, but with the return of certain rituals like the first day of practice and getting in shape for pre-season, we can only hope that this fall will bring back a bit of normalcy.

With the new season now upon us, here are a few things I am looking forward to:

• While some Otsego County fall teams didn’t get to play last school year, one of the teams that did was the Schenevus girls soccer team. With an undefeated spring season under its belt, this team will be the one to watch. Led by junior scoring phenom Angelina Competiello, the Dragons appear to be one of the favorites in the Tri-Valley League and in Section IV, Class D. Competiello has 81 career goals and is already the all-time leading goal scorer in school history with two seasons left to play. She is surrounded by a very solid supporting cast, including Taylor Knapp and Lily Competiello, who are two of the best-kept secrets. If you are looking to watch small school soccer of the highest quality, make sure you make the trip to Schenevus.

• Staying on the theme of must-see soccer, I am also excited to check out the Oneonta boys and the Cooperstown boys teams. Oneonta lost a lot of talent to graduation, but they return with one of the best goal scorers in Finlay Oliver. There is no doubt that Oliver is ready to put on a show for local fans. His work with high level off-season travel ball should propel him to be arguably the best player in the area.
On the flip side, the word out of Cooperstown is the Hawkeyes will have one of the most balanced teams in recent memory. A group that has been coming up together since grade school, CCS could be ready to make Coop a soccer town for a few months this fall.

• Another team I want to watch as the leaves turn is the Unatego girls soccer squad. The Spartans are a team that made the Class C state final in 2019 and are led by legendary local coach, Sue Herodes. Have they graduated a lot of talent? Yes. But can the Spartans reload? They have done it so many times in the past and I think they can do it again. As Delhi Coach Matt Albright recently told me, “the road to the MAC championship game always goes through Unatego.” I couldn’t agree more. With key players like Alexa Lucia, Kylie Mussaw and Anabel Rommer back, I wouldn’t count out UCS just yet.

So, as our local athletes prepare to get back to competition, make sure you get out and cheer them on. Nothing goes faster than the career of a high school athlete. As many kids have said to me over the years, “you think you have all this time then you blink and it is all over.” That is true now more than ever. These student athletes never know when their seasons might get cut short again, but for now it seems like our old rituals are back and we can focus on the promise of the season ahead.

Nate Lull is the sports director for WCDO in Sidney.

Editor’s Notes by Greg Klein: Taking a vacation from COVID, but not for long

Editor’s Notes by Greg Klein:
Taking a vacation from COVID,
but not for long

About six weeks ago, we went on our first vacation since 2019.

The teen has the benefit of a summer birthday and the best parenting idea we ever devised was birthday trips. Not only do we get to schedule some summer fun (and summer time off) but
we have gotten to see the Empire State. And as a bonus, or perhaps this was by design, we avoided having to stage large birthday parties.

Of course, the birthday parties would have ended by age 16 and we were still celebrating the teen in July, so I think we came up with a good idea. I certainly thought that last month.

This year we discovered the Thousand Islands. And when I say dis-covered, I mean fell in love with. Of course, our pathways were limited by the border being closed but there was plenty to discover on the U.S. side.

Midweek Induction brings questions about attendance, coronavirus safety

Midweek Induction brings questions about
attendance, coronavirus safety

By GREG KLEIN • Special to

In the lull of the 2013 Hall of Fame Induction, when no living people were inducted and only about 2,000 die-hard fans attended on a rainy day, and some people speculated about the demise of the tradition, keen baseball observers knew the Yankees would be coming to Cooperstown eventually.
When large class after large class started popping big attendance figures for inductions the latter half of the last decade — topping out at 53,000 for Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Alan Trammell, Jim Thome and Jack Morris in 2018 — keen baseball observers whispered, “just wait and see what the Yankee years bring.”

Otsego County back to over 100 active COVID cases

Otsego County tops 100
active COVID cases

Staff Report • Special to

As of Tuesday, Aug. 31, active COVID cases in Otsego County have reached 121 with five hospitalizations, according to the Otsego County Department of Health.

The county’s DOH reported 22 new cases Tuesday, which brought Otsego County over 100.

The DOH continued to encourage people who have not gotten the vaccine yet to do so as it reduces risk of hospitalization and death.



Opinion by Richard Sternberg M.D.: Taking chances with other people’s lives is evil

Opinion by Richard Sternberg M.D.
Taking chances with
other people’s lives is evil


Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Man walks into a bar talking to the other people at the bar. He has a few drinks, gets somewhat inebriated and then announces “Oh, by the way, I have COVID-19. What are you gonna do about it?”

Several days later everybody who was at the bar tests positive for coronavirus and they start to have secondary positives in their families and among their friends.

Right now, this is a rumor, for which I have no hard evidence. The story changes about where and how the man got infected and where he went to drink to spread it. Perhaps it’s apocryphal. I’m not sure if I heard it second-hand, third-hand or fourth-hand, and I’m not going to speculate on whether it’s true or not and what businesses may be affected.

This is what many of our nightmares have been about and why some of us wanted all the restrictions we’ve tried to have in our community. It’s bad enough when somebody who legitimately thinks they are not at risk to spread the disease spreads it, either because they’re vaccinated and don’t realize they can still get it or they’ve taken all reasonable precautions such as masking. However, when somebody arrogantly exposes other people to a disease, this is a disaster, especially since that person is probably not just exposing the three people in the store but other people in the community. Then those people are exposing others, and so on. I wouldn’t be surprised if an incident like this ended up causing at least one significant disability or death. Maybe a child will get it and end up with long-time syndrome. Maybe somebody will bring it home to an elderly relative and they will have severe respiratory problems and die. This is no longer theoretical if the information I received is true; and it is a real possibility.

Being the liberal that people purport me to be, I should be understanding and realize this is a confused person who drinks to excess and doesn’t understand the consequences of his actions. Actually being somebody who is pretty much dead center politically and sometimes swayed by conservative
arguments (especially when it comes to spending issues), I find myself not really wanting to give this person any benefit of the doubt.

If this deed was done intentionally to prove a point, I feel hanging a man by his thumbs is a reasonable punishment. If anybody gets very sick, disabled or dies, he should be hanged by his cajones. I really have completely run out of patience with people who casually put other people at risk or expect healthcare professionals to bail them out if they happen to get sick.

At one hospital, the medical staff, including the nurses and the middle of all providers, basically held a mock strike. Yes, of course people were left behind to take care of the sick patients, but they made the point and it was shown on national television.

Let’s not let that happen here.

Get with the program people, get vaccinated. Wear your mask. If you don’t … stay home.

Letter by Dan Butterman: Vaccines are safe, effective and helping us get back to life

Letter by Dan Butterman:
Vaccines are safe, effective
and helping us get back to life

My 12-year-old daughter just got the COVID-19 vaccine. As soon as the guidelines changed to make 12-year-olds eligible, she declared that she wanted the vaccine on her birthday. So, we made it a family excursion, just as though she were getting her ears pierced, and now she’s protected.

She is not the only 12-year-old I know who has stepped up to take that shot. Most of her eligible friends have stepped up as well. Our so-called leaders with their misinformation campaigns have failed to guide our children. I see children willing to do their part to help end this horrific virus. They have done virtual school, missed birthday parties, and distanced themselves from friends and grandparents, and they are tired of all of it.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announces mask mandate for schools

Gov. Kathy Hochul announces mask mandate for schools

Staff Report • Special to

New Governor Kathy Hochul announced on her first day of office, Tuesday, Aug. 24, that she will be enforcing a mask mandate on anybody entering schools in New York.

Hochul said she does not need legislative approval as its a regulatory action.

State officials are also looking to mandate vaccines for all school employees. In addition, Hochul’s administration is looking to to use $335 million in federal funds for COVID testing in schools.



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