News of Otsego County

Life in Time of Covid 19

Working The System, Getting The Shot

Working The System, Getting The Shot

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.

I had my first COVID-19 vaccination Sunday, Jan. 26. To get an appointment, I went through all the protocols and algorithms that I discussed previously in this column.

I was able to find an appointment Sunday in Plattsburgh. A day later I found an appointment for Utica on Feb. 3 and canceled the Plattsburgh appointment and then I kept looking for something closer and sooner.

Lucky for me, some close friends were also going through the various procedures and last Friday, Jan. 24, they found Kinney Drugs in Richfield Springs was scheduling appointments for the next two days; this past weekend.

They had just scheduled theirs and immediately called me and told me about it.

I went online, followed the protocols, and filled out forms. I put in a request for an appointment for Saturday, and up popped my appointment, assigned to Sunday.

I have no complaints. In fact, that system worked better than the state system inasmuch as it asked you when you wanted an appointment but, regardless, apparently gave you the next available.

If the appointment you asked for was already taken by the time your request went in, you’d still get one without having to reenter all that information.

Unfortunately, the state Department of Health’s online registration requires you to put in a great deal of information, then you pick the time from what you saw earlier in the process, and if the appointment that was in that spot had already been taken by somebody else while you were doing the application, you have to go all the way back into the beginning to try and find next available appointment.

Somebody needs to fix their software.

Medical Needs, Politics Guide President As He Battles Case Of COVID


Medical Needs, Politics

Guide President As He

Battles Case Of COVID


I have been trying to keep up with the fire hose of information that is being produced about President Trump’s case of COVID-19. On top of that, consider the NFL’s “crisis” with the Tennessee Titans Open – how dare anyone refer to that as a crisis? – and the latest press conference from Governor Cuomo, which was only an hour ago as I write this.

Diligently trying to keep up with all this information effectively has been impossible. But this is what I can ascertain at this point about the president.

Ask Your Locals Governments: Take Care Of Us


Ask Your Local


Take Care Of Us


On Sunday, a friend of mine was talking to a family from South Carolina. They told him how bad it was down there now and how great it was up here and how we had beaten the virus.

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.

They talked for a while, then walked away down Main Street. None of them were wearing masks, nor knew if they had the disease and could be spreading it. Nor had they quarantined for two weeks after arriving in New York. Now multiply this by a hundred.

Locally we did a great job of containing COVID-19. We went weeks without a case until recently a few cases popped up. Effectively the whole area had quarantined itself.

Recently there were cases. They had to be coming from the outside. And they will keep on coming.

There really is only one way to beat this disease and that is to prevent it from establishing itself. We have to keep it out.

If we can’t control the SARS-CoV-2 virus, it will run through the entire population, and locally we have a population which has a high percentage of people with risk factors.

STERNBERG: Social Distancing Works – Do It!


Social Distancing

Works – Do It!


One and one-half weeks ago Otsego County, as part of the Mohawk Valley Region, was allowed to begin reopening following almost two months of lockdown to try and prevent the spread and decrease the incidence of COVID-19.

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.

Reopening is something desired by pretty much everyone. As long as all reasonable measures would be taken to prevent further spread and it is reasonable, if not necessary, to start to remove restrictions and allow the economy to reopen.

One would think that the majority of people would be overjoyed
to have increased freedom, the ability to either go back to work or extend their working hours, and to come out and move towards getting normal life back.

It seems I am mistaken.

I try to walk half to one mile a day as part of my rehabilitation exercises. I chose to do this on Main Street in Cooperstown from Chestnut to River Streets. This area is relatively flat and has the benefit of having things to look at and the occasional bench to sit on.

The first few days that we were reopened, I found pretty much everybody either wore a mask or had one around their neck which they could then put over their nose and mouth when they came near somebody else.

It seems that each subsequent day fewer and fewer people even have masks with them and what’s worse fewer people fail to separate themselves as they pass others on the street.

On Memorial Day I was out and about. There were many more people on Main Street than there were a week ago. A majority were not wearing masks.

Twice I came across people walking their dogs who neither had masks nor gave way when they came near me. Additionally, I saw multiple people running both on the sidewalks and around the village and, while I agree that they frequently did not come into contact with other people, they occasionally did so. None of them even had masks around their necks.

I see businesses having difficulty enforcing distancing rules. I saw three gatherings of at least 20 people, none of whom were wearing masks and many in close proximity. Additionally, they were playing games and sports such as football and Frisbee.

If we don’t keep the numbers down and they start going up again not only will we not be allowed to advance reopening but we could have to go back to lockdown. Why people who most want to see us come out and return to normal are behaving badly is really beyond me.

I know that Americans like to say that nobody will tell them what to do. This is so obviously inconsistent with our normal daily lives, why is the simple action of social distancing and wearing a mask so important to violate rules and recommendations?

Multiple studies have shown that social distancing works. Wearing a mask is a part of that when one can’t be at least 6 feet apart. It’s clear that the governor telling people to do so seems in many cases to have a counterproductive effect.

Does it make a person feel good to stand up to the government? Is this worth the risk of spreading the disease to one’s loved ones? Of being disrespectful of others? Of leading to new restrictions?

In order to continue advancing to normal activity we must keep the number of new cases and deaths down. Social distancing works. Is that inconvenience too large a price to pay to avoid unnecessary deaths and worse restrictions?

STERNBERG: A Pearl Harbor Moment, Plus


A Pearl Harbor

Moment, Plus


Two weeks ago, Surgeon General Jerome Adams made comments that last week would be a Pearl Harbor moment in the battle against COVID-19. Others picked up on the statement. I believe the President used that phrase at one point in a press conference. Others are calling this a 9/11 moment.

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.

This is nothing of the sort and is probably an insult to Pearl Harbor, 9/11 and the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, was a highly dishonorable way of declaring war against the United States by the Imperial Japanese Empire; 2,403 people died in it, mostly sailors, but also soldiers and marines, and some civilians.

On 9/11, 2,977 people, mostly American citizens, including 343 members of the New York City Fire Department, 71 metropolitan area law enforcement officers, one officer in Pennsylvania, and 55 military personnel were murdered.

Those who have died of what has been deemed to be 9/11-induced illnesses is probably greater than 3,000 considering first responders, clean-up crews and people who lived in the area. Let’s say 6,000 fatalities in total.

As of April 12, 2020, 20,488 people, up approximately 2,000 from the day before, have died of documented COVID-19 in the U.S., which is more than twice the combination of Pearl Harbor and 9/11 together.

There have been additional deaths well above the statistical averages not listed as COVID-19 but which highly probably are. Documented new deaths per day from COVID-19 are fast approaching the total at Pearl Harbor.arbor.Harbor.

The rate of the increase of deaths in New York State has leveled off but the rate of increase elsewhere in the U.S continues to rise.

Pearl Harbor and 9/11 are singular moments in the history of the United States and of the heroism of its military and municipal services. They were moments of national resolve but they were moments.

COVID-19 is a relentless killer that will continue worldwide unless a way to either cure it or prevent it is found. It wears us down.

The worldwide death toll could easily exceed millions unless vigilance is maintained. While it is an infectious disease on an individual basis, on a global level it is like a cancer, metastasizing everywhere and overwhelming the host, that is the population of the entire world.

Trivializing it as a moment, however monumental that moment is, does not prepare people for the continued fight ahead and gives them the false sense that if only we make it past one specific day everything will be well.

As terrible as Pearl Harbor and 9/11 were, the surgeon general using that analogy does disservice to those events and actually gives a false sense of security that the pandemic is less devastating than it is and it is abating.

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