News of Otsego County


With 10th Death, County ‘Overwhelmed,’ Bond Says

With 10th Death, County

‘Overwhelmed,’ Bond Says

County Staffing Increased As Deaths, COVID Infections Keep Growing

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Help is on the way after county Public Health Director Heidi Bond lamented that her department is “overwhelmed.”

“We’re barely keeping up with the cases coming in,” she said. “With contact tracing, that means you might not get a call if you’ve been identified as a close personal contact in a timely manner.”

On Monday, Dec. 14, the county Board of Representatives voted unanimously on a resolution from the floor presented by county Rep. Michele Farwell, D-Morris, to approve three LPNs or three health workers, or a combination of the two, to ensure Bond has the resources she needs to continue combating COVID.

With Bond and five nurses working nights and weekends, she hopes to expand the staff to eight to assist in interviewing positive cases and providing additional contact tracing.

“It’s definitely a relief,” she said. “All of us have been working six days a week.”

As of Tuesday, Dec. 15,there were 153 cases reported over last seven days, with 16 hospitalizations and two deaths, 10 deaths total.

Both of the deceased were women over 55, including one elderly woman who caught the virus from an employee at her assisted living facility after the employee was exposed at a private Thanksgiving gathering.

But with the lack of contact tracers, Bond said it could be days before her staff can reach those who may have been exposed to let them know they need to quarantine.

Bond defined “close contacts” as a person, including household residents, co-workers or friends, that the positive case spent more than 15 minutes with, either masked or unmasked.

“Normally we want to contact those people within 24 hours to let them know they should quarantine,” she said. “Now we’re asking people if they know they’re positive, that they take personal responsibility and notify their contacts, as well as tell us those names.”

And that personal responsibility extends to those notified, she said, who need to quarantine at home for 14 days. “That means no going out to the store, no going into work, no seeing friends,” she said. “You just stay home and wait.”

Bond said that if not contacted by the Health Department within five days of quarantine, to reach out in order to get the paperwork needed to approve time off work through the CARES Act.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Covid-19 Vaccine Webinar 12-17-20

Covid-19 Vaccine Webinar


COVID19 VACCINE – Noon – 1 p.m. Find out what you need to know about the Covid19 vaccine before it arrives. Sign in on Zoom or call on your phone to listen. Presented by Bassett Healthcare Network. Dial 1-646-876-9923, Meeting ID 472-571-706, Password 141314 or visit with passcode 729538 to watch.

STERNBERG: One Word Capture Mood: Sad

One Word Capture Mood: Sad

The following were some of the definitions of the word “sad” from

Richard Sternberg, retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, is providing his professional perspective weekly during the COVID-19
threat. A village trustee,
he resides in Cooperstown.

“Affected by unhappiness or grief; sorrowful or mournful, expressive of or characterized by sorrow, causing sorrow; somber, dark, or dull; drab; deplorably bad, sorry.” lists 46 synonyms for sad.

And I add an additional from other sources, pathetic. The following story is sad by almost all of these. This was originally reported by CNN.
Jodi Doering, an Emergency Room nurse in Dearing, S.D., out of severe frustration and feelings of being overwhelmed, tweeted Saturday that her patients were dying of COVID-19 but remained in denial of the pandemic’s existence.

She called it a horror movie that never ends. Besides treating patients who were dying and the stress that it caused her and her colleagues, they also faced the additional emotional toll of treating patients who despite being severely ill, who while dying, still refused to acknowledge that they had been infected with a virus that they said didn’t exist.

Patients on 100-percent oxygen would swear that it was not real and many would lash out at the nurses and doctors trying to help them for trying to convince them they were dying of COVID.
There were incidents of patients screaming that it was all a fraud and that the medical staff were only wearing PPE to confuse them, that there was no need for it, and demanding that they take it off.

Rather than communicating with their loved ones before they died, they would rant against anyone or anything that tried to convince them that they were critically ill with COVID.

Cases are skyrocketing in North and South Dakota currently at a rate that is the fastest in the nation.

In North Dakota, the Republican Gov. Doug Burgum pleaded with residents, “You don’t have to believe in COVID, you don’t have to believe in a certain political party or not, you don’t have to believe whether masks work or not. Just do it because you know one thing is very real. And that 100 percent of our (hospital) capacity is being used.”

On the other hand, Kristi Noem, governor of South Dakota, has continued to oppose mask mandates or closures and has joined in antagonism to mainstream medicine.
She hosted soon-to-be ex-President Donald Trump at a tightly packed Fourth of July celebration at Mount Rushmore. Even after the president acknowledged that he had COVID-19 last month, many of his supporters continue to refuse to acknowledge it is real.

Johns Hopkins University says that the Dakotas are currently the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, according to their and the states own data.

Experts feel that the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which attracted over 500,000 to South Dakota, and was encouraged by Governor Noem, was a major superspreader event.

Most of the half million did not wear masks and did not socially distance especially in bars and restaurants.

How do we stop this when so many won’t even believe it is real, or dangerous, and won’t begin to cooperate in the protection of themselves and their families?

Last night I was talking to a close friend, a college classmate who is a family physician in rural Wisconsin. He is over 65 and male like myself but otherwise has no risk factors.

He and his entire family sustained COVID-19 in October.
They are not sure what the sequence of spread was; he, his wife, and his step-daughter are all in healthcare. He said it was the sickest he ever felt.

I admit I, who has a total of seven risk factors, am scared that I may become infected. If so, I have a very significant fatality risk. Hopefully I can stay safe until there is a vaccine available to me.

I suppose I can take solace in the fact that between those that don’t believe the disease is real or that it can make them sick, and those who will refuse the vaccine, I stand a reasonable chance of getting it within six months.

PLACE: Protect Your Family, Protect Everyone’s

Protect Your Family,

Protect Everyone’s

Editor’s Note: Milford Central Superintendent of Schools Mark Place wrote this Thanksgiving letter to the district’s families.

Mark Place

Each of the last five years I have prepared a letter at this time of the year with a focus on the upcoming holidays. Today I write to you for the same purpose along with a message of hope and gratitude.

As a part of the MCS family, my thoughts are with all of you. I see the exhaustion in all of our eyes and the want for this pandemic to just be over.

Collectively we have sacrificed a great deal to keep ourselves, our families, and MCS safe, and I am grateful for your continued patience and grace as we have traveled together through one of the most challenging times in our history.

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday. It is, and always has been, about family. My earliest memories of Thanksgiving are of starting the day at my great-grandfather’s farm on Route 205 in Laurens and ending at my grandparents’ home in Oneonta.

And all these years later, what I truly remember are the feelings of togetherness. I’m sure that many of you have similar memories and are working hard to build that for your children.

This year, my family has decided to forgo coming together for the holidays.

It is one more heartbreak of this pandemic for me, but the thought of my parents possibly catching COVID-19 is more heartbreak than I’m willing to endure.

As you and your family prepare for the holidays, I’m not going to ask for you to make the same decision that my family has made. Rather, all that I’m going to ask is that you have a plan to do whatever is necessary to protect you and your family.

By protecting your own family, the MCS family will be protected as well. At the end of the day, our goal is the same – to be able to be together, and we want nothing more than to be able to continue with in-person instruction after the holidays.

I am hopeful that each of us will continue to do our part to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and that the end of the pandemic will come sooner than current models predict. And when the pandemic has finally ended, I hope that the entire MCS family will come together and celebrate how well we took care of one another.

We are Milford Strong! And we will get through these challenging times together. May your holidays be filled with joy.

EDITORIAL: Unite In Making Plan Work

Unite In Making Plan Work

Doesn’t it remind you of what happened to Hartwick College President Margaret L. Drugovich?

No sooner had she arrived in 2008 on Oyaron Hill, when the Great Recession hit.

Within a few months, the fledgling president, with no chance to build a reputation or support among staff and faculty, had to begin laying people off.

The faculty balked. Criticism abounded.

Dennis Craig
Margaret Drugovich

Drugovich did what she had to do. Things settled down. The economy eventually rebounded, and Drugovich built the sterling reputation she has today.

Fast forward to 2020 and, across the valley, SUNY Oneonta President Dennis Craig.

It’s even moreso. Drugovich had a short honeymoon. Craig parachuted into the middle of a 700-plus COVID-19 infestation, one of the worst per-capita among U.S. campuses. His predecessor had departed precipitously. The New York Times’ front page was trumpeting our woes worldwide.

Craig immediately formed a COVID-19 Rapid Response Team. In a month – almost to the day – the team reported out a 22-page, single-space,
detailed-packed plan to take on the menace.

Pretty good.

So far, some of the faculty balked. But otherwise, criticism hasn’t abounded.

Just the opposite. Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig likes the plan’s focus on the safety of his constituents. Student Association President Gabby Cesaria likes the focus on a Feb. 1 reopening; she surveyed students, and 50 percent want to return to classes.

In recent decades, SUNY Oneonta has been on the make.

President Alan Donovan, now retired and an Oneonta community leader, began the drive to push up the quality of students and scholarship.

During his successor Nancy Kleniewski’s tenure, Oneonta was often mentioned, along with Geneseo and New Paltz, as one of “SUNY’s Ivies,” if you will.

During that period, the SUNY System invested heavily in the hilltop. Tom Rathbun, the level-headed assistant vice president/facilities, was spending $30-40 million a year upgrading the campus, and it looks great. (His successor, Lachlan Squair, appears to be quite an innovator, making SUNY Oneonta an innovator in Upstate Medical’s novel “pool testing.”)

And alumnus Bill Pullman starred in “Independence Day.” You can’t get much better than that.

SUNY Oneonta dropped the ball when COVID-19 arrived. That was then; recent, but then.

This is now.

The SUNY Oneonta community must want to return to what it was, a campus on the make. With its particular COVID mess behind it, the SUNY Oneonta community should strive, as one, to be a Model of the Reopening.

With two anti-COVID vaccines coming online, with the wide local acceptance of masks and social distancing, with the high-level of community sensitivity to COVID, it can be done.

The online petition – only a fraction of the faculty, some 71 out of 500 professors and instructors, have signed it – takes on Craig and Provost Leamor Kahanov personally.

While no doubt well meaning, the petition drive seems to be the wrong instrument at this point.

That’s misguided.

Of the many issues raised, the one about sensitivity to relatives of faculty who may have pre-existing conditions resonates most. But it’s hard to believe the administration would not seek to ensure what protection it can to people under particular threat of COVID.

No doubt the key players in the campus hierarchy are as imperfect as the rest of us, but – at this critical point in SUNY Oneonta’s history – let’s all pull together behind the people who, more than ever, need wide support.

And that includes the campus community and the rest of us, the public at large.

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