September 15, 2022
NY State of Emergency on Polio Outbreak
New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency on Friday over the growing polio outbreak, in an effort to better equip health care providers with tools to curb the spread of the sometimes disabling virus before it takes further hold in the state.
New York Times – 9/9/22 Sept. 9
Skin Test to Detect Alzheimer’s
A report given at the Alzheimer’s Association Inter-national Conference suggests that a minimally invasive skin test can accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease with accuracy. The test measures factors related to nerve connections in the brain. The chief medical advisor for SYNAPS the company that developed the test stated that when added to other diagnostic methods “tremendously enhance the certainty of making a diagnosis,” of Alzheimer’s Disease.
It appears drivers fueling up in New York will get at least a partial break from the state’s gasoline tax beginning June 1.
The gas tax holiday looks like it will be part of a new state budget lawmakers expect to approve beginning later in the evening of April 7. Under the details available Thursday afternoon, it appears the deal will knock 16 cents off the price of a gallon of unleaded or diesel gasoline between June 1 and December 31.
The dates would cover the bulk of the state’s summer driving season, with the tax holiday taking effect before the June 28 primary elections and coming to an end after November’s general election.
Lawmakers also expect to approve cocktails-to-go – a takeaway option that became popular during the earliest days of the state’s COVID shutdown in spring 2020. Restaurants lost the authorization to serve to-go cocktails one year later.
Under the plan, restaurants can sell cocktails to go or for delivery only when accompanied by “a substantial food item” and only if sealed with a secure lid designed to prevent consumption without removing the lid or breaking the seal. Restaurants cannot sell or deliver beverages outside of its licensed hours of operation, and the price per serving must be the same as if consumed on premises. Restaurants can offer specials only if the special is available on premises.
The deal also prohibits restaurants from selling entire bottles of liquor or wine for off-premises consumption.
The state’s liquor stores had opposed the plan from the start, but, as a part of the deal, retail liquor stores now will be allowed to operate on Christmas Day.
Lawmakers also expect to approve a tax credit for farmers intended to offset the cost of paying farm workers enhanced overtime wages. The state’s Labor Department has yet to sign off on a January 2022 recommendation that would see the overtime threshold for farm workers drop from 60 hours/week to 40 hours/week over a decade-long phase in; observers believe the new budget makes Labor Department approval inevitable.
[Look for more news and analysis on the state budget and how it may affect Otsego County in next week’s edition of The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta.]
The latest information from the Otsego County Health Department shows:
24 new cases
0 new deaths reported
8.7 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.
The state’s Farm Laborers Wage Board met January 28 to take testimony from those crowded out of its three prior sessions, then took a surprise vote to recommend a phased-in lowering of the overtime threshold to 40 hours per week from its current 60 hours per week.
With a 2-1 vote, the Board recommended a 10-year ramp to the new threshold, reducing the mark for farm laborers by four hours per week every two years beginning in 2024. The Board sent its recommendation to Commissioner of Labor Roberta Reardon and Governor Kathy Hochul.
Board Chair Brenda McDuffie, president of the Buffalo Urban League, called the vote “something historical,” Board member Denis Hughes, former president of the New York State AFL-CIO said it was “smart” for the panel to “give a long leeway, a long amount of time to understand what changes can be and should be made.”
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.
Governor Kathy Hochul announced Friday afternoon that she’s extending the “mask or vaccine” policy for indoor public spaces through February 10, 2022.
The mask mandate remains in place for schools, as well.
It had been set to expire February 1 and this week was the subject of back-and-forth court rulings on its constitutionality. The most recent court decision upholds the mandate.
The governor said Friday that she would evaluate the mandate every two weeks.
Because so many people registered to participate in its three virtual sessions, New York’s Department of Labor this week added an additional public hearing to its Farm Laborer Wage Board schedule for Friday, January 28, at 2 p.m.
The three-member board is considering the existing 60-hour-per-week overtime threshold for farm workers in New York State “and the extent to which the overtime work threshold may be lowered.” Some worker advocate groups want the threshold dropped to 40 hours per week; farm advocates are pushing back vigorously to keep the bar at its current 60 hours per week.
Happy New Year!
I had difficulty celebrating the 2022 New Year. I was certainly unable to make any resolutions. After all, I’ve spent the last two years being very resolute. As the third year of the pandemic loomed, I saw the year beginning with a continued onslaught of information, from new or revised protocols, to new plans to protect our health, our community, and our way of life. But what I didn’t see was any real difference as a result of those protocols. Our holidays were still upended by this pandemic.
The holiday season has always been a cherished time in my role at Springbrook. It offers a connection to the people who make up Springbrook, be they family members, students, residents, staff, or donors. I missed the celebrations and contact with the Springbrook community of individuals, families, and incredible staff!
Being connected to the people of Springbrook — to our mission — is one reason I chose the location
of my office. My space looks out on Springbrook’s main campus playground and the pathways used by many of the students going to and from school. This vantage point gives me the opportunity to glance over my computer screen to see the reasons why I am at Springbrook.
By Ted Potrikus
Her beloved Buffalo Bills lost in a weekend heartbreaker, but aside from that, Governor Kathy Hochul has had a pretty good couple of weeks.
She’s able to talk about turning the corner against the winter Omicron surge, with seven-day averages for new hospital admissions, new cases, and cases-per-100,000 declining in every part of the state.
She laid out a blueprint for New York’s upcoming fiscal year, a $216 billion bonanza adorned with property tax rebates, pandemic recovery initiatives, infrastructure improvements, record-setting education aid, and big-spending ideas that aim to keep environmentalists green with joy. It’s a something-for-everybody package with enough in it to elate most of the disparate constituencies that constitute the Empire State
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.
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 Kathy Hochul’s 2022 State of the State message calls for a two-term limit for New York’s four top offices – governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and comptroller.
Her plan tracks a similar call from the state’s likely Republican candidate for governor in 2022, Long Island Congressman Lee Zeldin. Rep. Zeldin’s plan, announced December 1, 2021, would affect only the governor’s office.
Any term limit proposal would require an amendment to the state’s constitution — a lengthy process that demands approval from two separate sessions of the state Legislature, and then from voters.
Governor Hochul also seeks to bar outside income for statewide elected officials while serving in office, unless the income is derived from teaching purposes.
“I want people to believe in their government again,” Governor Hochul said. “With these bold reforms, we will ensure New Yorkers know their leaders work for them and are focused on serving the people of this state.”
In his December announcement, Rep. Zeldin said, “I have always believed that our founding fathers envisioned a system of citizen elected leaders who would bring their unique new ideas, experience and vision to government and then move on. As governor, I would term-limit myself to two terms regardless of whether the state legislature takes this action.”
While New York law imposes no limit on the number of terms a statewide elected official or a state legislator can hold, some municipalities throughout the state have enacted local term-limit ordinances. New York City, for example, caps citywide officials and City Council members to two terms in their respective offices.
By Ted Potrikus
New York’s governor delivers a state-of-the-state address at the start of each calendar year; the speech a sitting governor gives at the onset of an election year is, however, always something a little different, a little more ambitious in scope.
Such is the case today (January 5) with a brief-by-comparison speech from Governor Kathy Hochul – her first since assuming the mantle after disgraced ex-Governor Andrew Cuomo stepped down. Hers was an address filled with the usual something-for-everybody on the menu – with very little that any opponents could attack outright. And, the address appears to open the door for discussions on bail reform.
But a state-of-the-state is rather like looking through an annual gift catalog – there are plenty of things in there that one would put on a wish list. Only a few of them stand a chance of showing up when the time for gift-giving arrives.
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.”