Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Otsego County’s Congressman Antonio Delgado’s State of the District address Monday, Jan. 4, the day after he was sworn in for a second term at the U.S. Capitol.
Accessibility, accountability, transparency. To me, these are not just words—they are my creed. I can’t promise that we will always see eye-to-eye on a particular issue.
But I can and do promise you that I will listen to your views, that I will treat them and you with respect, and that, whether we agree on an issue or not, I will explain my position to you.
As I look ahead at my second term in office, these principles will continue to guide me.
I will remain a member of the Committees on Small Business, Agriculture, and Transportation & Infrastructure – not the most high-profile committees in Congress, by any means,
but by far the most important for the needs of our district.
That’s where I want to be.
Using my leverage on these committees, I will redouble my efforts to help our 27,000 small businesses and self-employed individuals thrive despite challenging economic
I will keep fighting to ensure that our more than 5,000 farms – the backbone of both our upstate economy and our rural way of life – can compete in today’s farm economy.
And I will keep pushing for investments in our region’s infrastructure – from roads, to rail, to broadband, to cell service, to hospitals, to public schools, to affordable housing – so that we can ensure a healthier, safer, and more productive future for ourselves and our children.
Our first order of business in this new Congress, however, will be to confront the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
While public health experts tell us that the darkest days of the pandemic have yet to come – and it is essential that we remain vigilant and take the necessary precautions to keep our loved ones safe – we can find hope in the fact that the scientific community has produced a safe and effective vaccine in record time.
As of today, New York has administered more than 275,000 vaccine doses with almost 500,000 more doses on hand. While the vaccine rollout in New York and across the nation has gotten off to a slower than anticipated start, I’m confident that our state and our country will continue to accelerate the rate of vaccinations in the coming months.
To that end, it is imperative that Congress provides more funding for state and local governments to support those on the ground doing the heavy lifting of coordinating the vaccine’s distribution.
“As some of you know, I received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine here in D.C. on Dec. 18, and I will receive my second and final shot here this coming Friday. I took the vaccine upon the advice of the attending physician and consistent with continuity of government guidelines.
But I also took the vaccine to show that the vaccine is safe, and to demonstrate my trust in the public health officials whose expertise and advice has so often been ignored and undermined by those in elected office since the pandemic began.
As I travel back and forth between home and Washington and then make my way all across the district engaging with constituents about the health and the safety of the vaccine, my goal is to build trust and faith in this treatment. When I look someone in the eye and urge them to get vaccinated, I want them to know that I’ve done it, myself.
We have seen the impact of inconsistent leadership on important measures like mask-wearing, and I believe it is critical to clear up any confusion there may be around the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
I will continue to put my faith in this treatment while also ensuring that New York State, and the local governments therein, from counties to hamlets, have all the federal support needed to continue to roll out the vaccine at home.
In closing, I want to say how honored I am to be representing New York’s 19th District for another term. It has been the privilege of a lifetime. On Sunday, I took a sacred oath to support and defend the Constitution and faithfully discharge the duties of this office.
Tonight, I make another pledge to you: that I will continue to listen to your concerns and priorities for our nation; that I will always put what is right for our community above what is easy but wrong; and that I will strive to be an effective representative for everyone in our district.
Thank you, and God bless you.”
Congressman Delgado, now living in Rhinebeck, is a Colgate and Harvard Law School graduate, a Rhodes Scholar, and an experienced litigator on his election in 2018.
Unintentionally but inevitably, and catastrophically, the Russian National Figure Skating Team has carried out an experiment that lets the rest of the world see what happens when you expose super-elite athletes indiscriminately to the risk of contracting COVID-19.
While not immediately fatal, it is not pretty and suggests what the long-term consequences of contracting the disease may be for other young people.
According to the Dec. 17 edition of The Wall Street Journal, the Russian Women’s National Ice Skating team is regarded as the very best in the world and has such deep reserves of young talent that it was expected to remain the best indefinitely.
They are a very close group, literally and physically. The members of this group have pretty much disdained rules and recommendations regarding avoiding disease spread up to now.
There are social media posts of them partying without spacing or masks, posts of competition venues where very many coaches, athletes, spectators and officials are wearing their masks below their mouth or not at all, while athletes are withdrawing from the national championships because of positive tests or complications from recent positive infection.
2018 Olympic silver medalist Evgenia Medvedeva is hospitalized with serious lung damage after testing positive in November.
European Champion Alena Kostornaia missed a competition earlier in December because of a positive test has not recovered sufficiently to compete according to officials.
The National Championship was won by Anna Shcerbakova a teenager. Scherbakova herself withdrew from a late November event citing “pneumonia.” She has now won the event three times but was noted to be having trouble breathing after her programs.
Other skaters performed well below expectation. Former world champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva who was expected to finish better came in seventh. She had announced that she had tested positive. She was reported as looking sluggish and exhausted at the Nationals.
Many who did compete had been reported as having had the virus earlier in the season. Coaches, some of who are at high risk because of age alone, have reported positive and ill.
Up until now the Russian National Federation has progressed their season as if the virus didn’t exist. Any attempts at safety protocols seem to have been ignored.
So, what do we learn from this experiment? Young people do get the disease and, when they do, they may not die from it at the same rate as the elderly but they do have medical consequences, sometimes permanently.
Why do these symptoms seem so frequent in these Russian athletes while they have not been reported with the same frequency in our general public?
Part of the answer is that these people are under a publicity magnifying glass – when they can’t perform, it is noticed. The same is evident in our professional athletes.
These are also people who have trained to perform at the extreme limits of physiologic capability, who have increased their capacities beyond normal people and therefore any slight damage to their organs whether lungs, heart, muscle, etc., are readily noticed.
The same damage is most probably occurring in the average person, but the average person does not frequently try to perform at their extreme.
While some of the Russians (and others) will never perform at elite levels again, some will have long-term damage that will affect activities of daily living. Any damage in anyone will have long-term consequences that will have heretofore unknown effects on life expectancy and long-term impairment or disability.
To those who continue to underestimate this disease, stop it. Dying is not the only bad outcome of contracting COVID-19.
I said this in April and I say it again now. Stay safe. Wear a mask. Socially distant. Stay within your pod (and if any one member doesn’t, then you all aren’t). We are getting close to getting vaccinated. Don’t screw up now.
In the NFL the lowest of the low, the New York Jets, beat the previously postseason-bound Cleveland Browns. This gave the Jets a second win and seems to knock them out of the competition for worst record and therefore first pick in the draft, according to another article on the same Journal sports page.
How could this happen?
Well, the Browns lost all their first- and most of their second-string receivers due to contact-tracing protocols for COVID-19.
The fans of the Jacksonville Jaguars, formerly the next-to-worst team in the standings, were noted to be celebrating. Now they get to draft Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Thirty-four years ago, during her first summer as a nurse’s aide at Bassett Hospital, Heidi Bond’s mother, Registered Nurse Cindy Brophy, gave her advice that has carried her through her career to date.
“She told me, ‘I don’t care if you have to go cry in the bathroom every shift – you finish this summer,’” said Bond. “She had a very strong work ethic, and she instilled that in me.”
That fortitude was put to the test when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Bond, also an R.N., has worked tirelessly, seven days a week, since the first case arrived in mid-March, assisting with contact tracing, scheduling testing clinics and monitoring the rise of the virus throughout the county.
For her steady hand and firm compassion, Otsego County Director of Public Health Heidi Bond has been named the Citizen of the Year by Hometown Oneonta, The Freeman’s Journal and www.AllOTSEGO.com.
“I know I’m proud of the work she’s done,” said Dave Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, chairman of the county Board of Representatives. “And I’m confident in saying our board is too.”
“The challenges of COVID would have caused others to curl up in the corner,” said county Rep. Andrew Stammel, D-Oneonta, who chairs the county board’s Health & Education Committee. “But not Heidi. She works diligently, confidently and without complaint.”
“She’s a phenomenal person, and I’m not just saying that because she’s my daughter,” said Brophy, now a nurse in Scarborough, Maine. “She is gentle and kind, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen her lose her temper. Everybody loves her.”
Bond was raised in Richfield Springs, graduating from Richfield Springs Central School with the Class of 1991. Working at Bassett, her mom got her the candy striper job in 1986, when Bond was a teenager.
“I really enjoyed helping people,” Bond said. “Even just things like bringing them fresh water to drink.”
The next year, she applied to be a nurse’s aide, a job that was considerably more challenging. “I didn’t think she had the stomach for it,” said her mom. “I thought she’d change one bedpan and be out of there!”
But Heidi – determined to see the summer through – found joy in the work. “She fell in love with it,” said her mother. “She would write letters and cards for the older patients if they wanted to send one. She found the work very rewarding.”
She attended Utica College’s four-year R.N. program, graduating in 1995 and returning to Bassett’s pediatric inpatient unit, providing care for children who had surgery, the flu or accidents requiring an overnight stay.
There, she learned another critical-care lesson.
“So many people told me, ‘Oh, I could never do pediatrics, I’d get too attached,’” she said. “But I got very good at separating my personal emotions from my work, and I learned how to be strong for the kids and the families.”
She married her high school sweetheart, Stephen, in 1992. The couple had their first daughter, Katie, in 1998, and the young mother switched to part-time in pediatrics so she had more time to stay home with her daughter. Daughter Emily was born in 2001.
In 2000, when Katie was 2, Bond heard about an opening for nurses at the county’s Health Department. “I enjoyed my public health classes at college,” she said.
At that point, part of public health involved home-care visits. “It’s a much different style of nursing,” she said. “In a hospital, you’re seeing a patient in a sterile environment and you have no idea what their home life is like. But in home care, you’re able to see them where they’re most comfortable.”
Sometimes, home care involved more than just nursing. “You’d go into these places and see that they didn’t have running water or there would be holes in the floor,” she said. “When you see someone in the hospital, you never imagine they’re living that way.”
Facing her new challenge, she didn’t retreat to cry in the bathroom, either.
“You can help them get the help they need,” she said. “And sometimes, they don’t want to accept that, so you help them as much as you can with the resources they do have.”
In 2005, the county department gave up its Home Health Agency certification, switching more focus to scheduling rabies vaccinations for pets, flu-shot clinics, visits to new mothers, lead-prevention poisoning and education, and prevention of chronic diseases and injuries.
She was promoted to Communicable Disease Control director in 2004. “Before the pharmacies began offering the shot, we had to put out a clinic schedule,” she said. “One year, we got a message from the state saying there was a shortage of the vaccine, and we had to cancel all the clinics.”
“It’s funny,” she continued. “Back then, people were clamoring to get the flu vaccine. Now we have to educate people into taking the COVID vaccine. It’s a culture change – a lot of people have never had to deal with a serious communicable disease in a way that affects a whole society.”
She was appointed public health director in 2008, just one year before swine flu hit. “We did have cases,” she said. “But nowhere near as many cases of that as we do of COVID.”
Part of her new duties included pandemic preparations, such as “war games” scenarios. “When Ebola hit in 2014, we would have a practice station where we would get PPE on and off,” she said.
“We would go to hospitals and make sure they were putting it on right.”
No cases of Ebola ever arose in Otsego County. Still, those two test runs, she said, helped mentally prepare her for when she got the call in January.
“I had taken a Friday off because my daughters and I had planned to get massages,” she said. “But the state Department of Health scheduled a mandatory webinar, so I had to cancel them. That started the alarm bells ringing, and they haven’t stopped going off since.”
The first case in the county arrived in March, when a SUNY Oneonta student and his mother went on vacation to Lake Placid. “Mom was sick and the student didn’t want to quarantine with her,” Bond said. “So he returned to campus, and cases spread from there.”
From March until August, there were five deaths and 117 cases, and by June, the county seemed to have gotten the pandemic under control.
“There was a point in the summer where we went three weeks without a case,” she said. “I didn’t think it was over, but I’d tricked myself in to a complacency where I thought we could handle it.”
But the return of the college students jeopardized all of that.
A “super-spreader” party Friday, Aug. 21, SUNY Oneonta students’ first weekend back, resulted in 107 cases by the following weekend, when newly appointed SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras made a whirlwind trip to Oneonta and cancelled classes for two weeks. When cases hit 300 a week later, he closed the campus for the remainder of the semester.
“That really opened my eyes to just how fast the virus could spread,” she said. “Even with measures in place, in congregate living, it spreads no matter what you do.”
In the months since, SUNY’s infections topped out at over 700, with Hartwick College infections totaling 71 over the semester.
Community spread from the college outbreaks was minimal, in part, thanks to rapid testing sent in by the state. But as the weather got too cold for outdoor dining and “COVID fatigue” set in, cases began to trend upward, with more than a thousand cases and 11 deaths since September.
“We have the highest number of hospitalizations we’ve had, but people just aren’t as concerned as they were in the spring,” she said.
“I know she must be frustrated, but she remains professional and always does her job,” said Bliss.
“It breaks Heidi’s heart when people aren’t wearing masks,” said Brophy. “She isn’t angry, she just really cares about people.”
Bond is in constant communication with the state Department of Health, as well as the county board. “I talk to her daily,” said Bliss. “Sometimes multiple times a day. Before this, I might talk to her once or twice a month.”
“I feel confident when we go to her with questions,” said Stammel. “She explains the answers, and if she doesn’t know, she knows who to get the answer from, and brings it back to us.”
With the arrival of the vaccine – last week, 350 Bassett employees received the Pfizer shot and more than 500 received the Moderna – and with the recent approval of funds to hire three additional nurses, Bond is finally seeing the end of the crisis nearing.
“I try to tell myself that, in the grand scheme, a year or two is not a lot of time,” she said. “But when it’s all over, we’re all planning to take a long vacation on the beach.”
Last Sunday, www.AllOTSEGO was able to trumpet the news: “VACCINE HERE! 350 Bassett Tier 1 Workers Getting Shots Over Weekend.” Within hours, thousands had clicked throughto read the good news.
It – the COVID-19 pandemic – is not over, but it’s on the way to being over.
This happy news comes at a time when, as the Gospel of Luke had it, humanity wishes for “peace on Earth, good will toward men.”
It’s the time of year when we pause and reflect on how close we’ve come to the ideal.
The reality, this year as always, is that we missed it, given we live in an imperfect world, populated by imperfect people looking to find the way through a glass more or less darkly.
To what? To a modicum of happiness, prosperity, good will, not just for ourselves, but to our fellow humans. Not just here, in our relatively safe and secure Otsego County,
but throughout our state, country and even world.
Perfection, whether you’re religious or not, is not of this world – but the journey is life’s meaning.
Statistically, we can reflect with some satisfaction on meeting the COVID-19 challenge, (although it’s not over yet, and continued vigilance is essential.)
The crudest measurement – mere numbers – affirms this. As of this writing, 11 local people have succumbed to COVID. According to the state Health Department, 700 people die in our county annually, so this worldwide health challenge, the worst in a century, raised the local death rate by 1.4 percentile points.
Even with the post-Thanksgiving spike, only 1,300 people were infected.
Take out the 750 on SUNY Oneonta’s campus – only one person in the community was determined to have been infected by that outbreak – only 550 people in the county at large have been stricken with the virus.
That’s less than one percent of our county’s population of 59,493 people.
To focus on the numbers shouldn’t harden us to the grief suffered by those 10 families, or to the lost wages, damaged and closed businesses, stunted educations, or the other very real negative impacts of the disease.
But Otsego County achieved something special and we can be proud: We can take comfort in how our neighbors, professionals and political leaders reacted to what could have been a devastating onslaught.
First, we can thank ourselves.
The widespread – in some cases, almost universal – wearing of masks, is an expression of caring for our fellow citizens. Masks, it’s been widely reported, may protect the wearer – but, mostly, they protect us from infecting people with whom we come into contact.
In that sense, wearing a mask is an act of love, the central Christmas sentiment. We should be proud of ourselves and others.
Second, we can thank our professionals.
Our Bassett Healthcare Network was up to the challenge. Brinton Muller, the local hospital’s emergency preparedness manager, formed a committee to prepare for a possible coronavirus infestation as early as January, well ahead of our state and national leaders.
In March, when the worst began to happen, then-President/CEO Bill Streck was able to roll out a “hotline” and testing tents almost immediately. He was assisted in those early days by Drs. Bill LeCates, Steve Heneghan (since departed) and Charles Hyman.
Fingers crossed, but an expanded ICU has yet to reach its capacity, a fear in those early days.
(Astonishingly, Bassett accomplished all this during a transition to the new president/CEO, Tommy Ibrahim, who devised and began implementing a futuristic, system-wide reorganization parallel to the COVID fight. That reflects a first-rate operation – and brings the famous Scott Fitzgerald quote to mind.)
Outside Bassett, county Public Health Director Heidi Bond became the face of the COVID-19 fight.
Third, of our political leaders.
Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig reported the other day that, in limiting the campus outbreak’s impact, the City of Oneonta’s infection rate is among the lowest in the state.
Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh achieved similar results, with Governor Cuomo singling out “America’s Most Perfect Village” last month for its particular success. This, despite hosting baseball fans from around the country over the summer – fewer, for sure, but enough to pose a threat.
At the county level, the Big Three – Treasurer Allen Ruffles, with the support and encouragement of the county board’s top leadership, Chairman Dave Bliss and Vice Chair Meg Kennedy – put together a package of borrowings and revenue streams designed to get county government through a historic challenge with minimal impact.
Of course, as we wish for “peace on Earth, good will toward men” at Christmastime, let’s not forget pride is considered a sin. We’ve done well, but we’re not out of this yet.
It could take weeks, maybe months – let’s hope otherwise – before the anti-COVID vaccines are available locally. Let’s stay the course, wearing masks, social distancing, washing our hands and avoiding crowds – as we have.
We’ve proven we can do it. As we count our blessings this Christmas, let’s stay the course.
With three deaths in two weeks, four people in the ICU and 16 hospitalized, Otsego County Public Health Director Heidi Bond has declared December to be the deadliest month of the COVID-19 pandemic so far.
“Three deaths in a month is the most we’ve had,” she said. “Before that, it was two in April.”
The victim, a woman over 55, had not been in the ICU, but had been hospitalized for less than week before she died on Friday, Dec. 18.
Last week, two other women died, including one who had been infected with the virus by an employee at the assisted living facility where she lived. The employee, Bond reported at the time, had spent Thanksgiving with a group of people outside their home, and was infected there.
This week’s seven-day total saw 141 cases, a slight decrease from last week’s total of 153. But Friday, Dec. 18, saw a second day of 35 cases, the current record for number of cases in a single day.
And with Christmas looming, Bond worries that the cases will climb even higher as people continue to gather against CDC recommendations.
“We’re starting with a higher number of cases than we did at Thanksgiving,” she said.
Many people have asked me to explain vaccines to them, and specifically the ones for COVID-19. They are most concerned with how they work, when they will be available, and if they will be safe.
Hopefully, this column will help.
The terms vaccine and vaccination derive from the Latin name Variola vaccinae, which means small pox of the cow. Vacca is Latin for cow.
The term vaccine was first devised by Sir Edward Jenner in 1778 based on the fact that he used an inoculation with cowpox to elicit a protective reaction to smallpox.
In 1881, Louis Pasteur proposed that the term vaccine be used to cover all new protective inoculations that were developed in order to honor Jenner.
There are multiple types of vaccines and at least one of each type has been tried or is being developed for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).
The following are the different types of vaccines that are administered to a subject to induce a protective immune response along with examples of each.
►INACTIVATED: a dead copy of the infectant, e.g., polio
►ATTENUATED: A weakened version of the infectant, e.g., yellow fever, measles, mumps
►TOXOID: an inactivated form of the poison made by the infected cell, e.g. tetanus and diphtheria
►SUBUNIT: a portion of the protein of the infectant that cannot cause the disease by itself, e.g., hepatitis B and HPV (human papillomavirus, causes genital warts and cervical cancer).
►CONJUGATE: Weak version of the infectant, coupled with a strong antigen for something benign to increase the immune response to the weakened version, e.g., Hemophylus influenza.
►RECOMBINANT DNA, where a stand of genetic material for part of the infectant is inoculated into the host’s cells and teaches the cells to make an antigen for part of the infectant.
►RNA: This is the approach that right now is the most promising in treating SARS-CoV-2. A portion of messenger RNA is inoculated into the host cells and tells the host to make a portion of the infecting virus. This technique has not been used for human diseases clinically before.
Typically, it takes 15-20 years to bring a new vaccine to market, and less than 5 percent of candidates will succeed. The speed in which the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine has come to be distributed really is warp speed.
The first regular immunizations begin a week ago Monday in Great Britain. This is less than a year from recognition that there was a new disease and 10 months from identifying the genetic code of the virus causing it.
Currently there is only one vaccine approved for use, the one made by Pfizer and BioNTech. This is awaiting approval along with that of Moderna in the United States. Pfizer’s was approved, distributed Sunday, and injection began Monday. Approval for Moderna may come later this week.
Both of these are of the RNA type.
There are several reasons that things have moved with lightning speed.
One, the unprecedented cooperation between pharmaceutical companies and academic and government research labs.
Two, the approval of governments to allow fast-tracking such that steps of the development are done in parallel. In my mind, there is no doubt the government’s Warp Speed initiative helped move the process along.
Three, scientists have been working for 10 years on what they call pandemic preparedness. In this case they had developed a template that would allow the development of vaccines for newly emerging diseases quickly. Essentially as one scientist called it, plug and play.
In my next column I will discuss plans for the roll out and how it has gone up to that point.
Normally, the time from submission of data to approval by a government agency takes two years. In the case of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines it is one week.
After approval, time to distribution takes more than a year while the pharmaceutical companies develop and implement manufacturing plans.
Amazing what we can do when everyone is desperately pulling in the same direction.
County Staffing Increased As Deaths, COVID Infections Keep Growing
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
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.
Editor’s Note: Michael Jerome of Cooperstown chairs the Polio Plus Committee of the Rotary E-Club of Global Trekkers, a role he played for years at the Cooperstown club.
Sixty years ago, every parent in the western world feared their child would be afflicted with the crippling disease of polio.
Vaccines developed by Drs. Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin enabled the U.S., Canada and several European countries to become polio free by the early 1990s.
Health officials at the time understood that as long as the polio virus exists anywhere in the world, the chance of its transmission elsewhere is highly probable; possibly resulting in the reemergence of the disease in previously polio-free areas.
The idea of eliminating polio from the globe took hold.
This inspiration caused leaders of Rotary International in 1979 to begin a multi-year effort to immunize millions of children in the Philippines. The success of this project inspired Rotary to make a promise to the world to eradicate polio worldwide.
Rotary International and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) have made great strides since 1988 in the sustained effort. Polio cases have dropped by 99.9 percent, from 350,000 cases in 1988 in 125 countries to only 176 cases of wild poliovirus in 2019 in just two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In August 2020, the World Health Organization declared the Africa region – all 47 countries – free of the wild poliovirus, a major milestone towards Rotary’s goal. In impoverished parts of the world, the wild poliovirus still exists. Thus, the chance of its transmission elsewhere by travelers remains highly probable.
Rotary and its GPEI partners remain optimistic. As reported in a recent issue of The Rotarian magazine, the legacy of this campaign is “more than eradicating a deadly disease from the planet, it’s also building a stronger health system that provides better access to lifesaving interventions for the world’s most vulnerable children.”
The valuable lessons learned from the polio eradication efforts have been utilized to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has temporarily halted all global vaccination efforts.
Research facilities built for disease analysis, polio program infrastructures and partnerships, and surveillance systems designed to locate infected persons are currently being used by local health care workers to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
With polio nearly eradicated, Rotary and its partners remain optimistic and intend to reach every child with the polio vaccine. Full funding and political commitment are needed to ensure that this paralyzing disease does not return to polio-free countries, putting children everywhere at risk.
Rotary has committed to raise $50 million each year to support global polio eradication efforts. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged to match those funds 2-to-1, for a total yearly contribution of $150 million.
Please join millions who are working to raise awareness and funds to end the debilitating scourge of polio, a vaccine-preventable disease.
I urge you to reflect on your good fortune to live in a polio-free country and contribute to the global effort to End Polio Now by visiting endpolio.org and click on “Donate.” Thank you!
(Under Governor Cuomo’s COVID-19 regulations), churches and synagogues are limited to a maximum of 25 people. These restrictions apply even to the largest cathedrals and synagogues, which ordinarily hold hundreds. And the restrictions apply no matter the precautions taken, including social distancing, wearing masks, leaving doors and windows open, forgoing singing, and disinfecting spaces between services.
At the same time, the Governor has chosen to impose no capacity restrictions on certain businesses he considers “essential.” And it turns out the businesses the Governor considers essential include hardware stores, acupuncturists, and liquor stores. Bicycle repair shops, certain signage companies, accountants, lawyers, and insurance agents are all essential too.
So, at least according to the Governor, it may be unsafe to go to church, but it is always fine to pick up another bottle of wine, shop for a new bike, or spend the afternoon exploring your distal points and meridians.
Who knew public health would so perfectly align with secular convenience?
NEIL J. GORSUCH
Supreme Court Justice
Diocese of Brooklyn
vs. Andrew M. Cuomo
Editor’s Note: The New York State Sheriff’s Department issued this statement Monday, Nov. 23, saying local sheriffs lack the resources to enforce Governor Cuomo’s edict requiring that no more than 10 New Yorkers celebrate Thanksgiving together. This is an excerpt.
Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order which limits “non-essential private residential gatherings” to no more than 10 individuals.
That has caused great consternation among many of our citizens, who envision armed officers arriving at their doors to count the number of people around the Thanksgiving table.
Many Sheriffs and other law enforcement leaders have felt compelled to allay those concerns by assuring citizens that officers will not be randomly coming to their homes on Thanksgiving Day to count the number of people inside.
That would be neither practical nor Constitutional.
The Governor has responded by dismissing those serious concerns on the part of local law enforcement, saying, “Law enforcement officers don’t get to pick and choose which laws they will enforce.”
We find that comment ironic, and disingenuous, since the Governor has directed that his own State Police do not have to enforce the order. Apparently, it is another case of “do as I say, not as I do,” such as we have seen with many other political leaders.
He has also called sheriffs “dictators” for following the Constitution rather than his orders, which we also find ironic.
We do not know if the Governor’s limit on home gatherings to ten individuals is the right number or not. That is a decision for science, not us, to make.
We do know, however, that the Governor has attempted to foist upon local law enforcement an impossible task. How are officers to know, without violating citizens’ right to privacy and other Constitutional rights, how many people are in the home?
How are they to determine if the family gathering is to be deemed “essential” or “nonessential?” …All of those are serious questions which make it impossible for law enforcement to know how to legally enforce the Governor’s order. They are questions that could have been addressed if we had a functioning State Legislature, creating clear and enforceable laws after input from those who would be impacted by them.
Instead we are faced with an unenforceable dictate issued without any consultation with law enforcement or the public as to enforceability.
We believe that rather than issuing orders that cannot be practically enforced, and then blaming law enforcement when they are not enforced, the Governor would better serve the people of New York if he were to use his position to encourage citizens to use common sense and voluntarily adhere to the guidance of state and federal health officials…
We urge you to listen to our public health officials.
We urge you to limit your exposure to those outside your household as much as you reasonably can. If we all do that, we will sooner be able to get back to normal.
We in law enforcement do not have the resources nor the legal authority to force you to do those things.
It is a matter of individual respon-sibility and we are confident that you will all voluntarily rise to the occasion.
TRUNK OR TREAT – 4 p.m. Decorate your cars and bring the kids for fun activities from building a spider, pumpkin carving, make a ghost, and of course collecting candy. All stations are sanitized, 6 feet apart. The Railroad Inn, 28 Railroad Ave., Cooperstown.
SCREENING – 7 p.m. Watch Oneonta’s own Ninja Warrior Anthony Eardley run the American Ninja Warrior Course on the big screen. Foothills Performing Arts Center, 24 Market St., Oneonta. Info, www.foothillspac.org