News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.


richard sternberg

STERNBERG: The President & All His Men

Life In The Time Of COVID-19

The President & All His Men

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. Dr. Sternberg will continue to report on medical aspects of the situation throughout week.

The good news is that the president seems to be doing OK medically.

The bad news is that people around him are being put at risk because of his refusal not only not to restrict himself in any manner but, in fact, his flaunting his ability to do anything he wants, whenever he wants.

So many of his senior staff, their staff, Secret Service, White House workers and people who were at his recent campaign events are turning up positive or exposed and they have to restrict themselves.

Also, the FDA and CDC which are both supposed to function based on science, are making decisions based on politics.

If you have friends and family members who have died, or have been very sick, you look at this very differently than if you are young and healthy. Though how anyone could consider greater than 210,000 excess deaths in the United States from COVID-19 reasonable is beyond me.

Tell me that the mortality rate is acceptable when it’s your close relative. My cousin’s father and aunt have died from it. Remember my column from last week about the 28-year old doctor who died of it.

I read the criticisms of my column posted on Monday, Oct. 5, and found myself agreeing on some points. But if the person writing remembers that over two months ago I said that, if everyone wore a mask all the time outside of the home, almost all restrictions could have been dropped by now.

I would be comfortable in that situation. Instead we are averaging over 35,000 new cases daily in the U.S. over the past two weeks.

The president is probably getting care available to no one else on Earth but himself. He is on at least two and possibly three experimental medicines. They haven’t been released for general care and no one has any idea if they have unforeseen complications when taken together.

He is still highly contagious. He has multiple risk factors. If I was his doctor, I would have put myself on the line in order to keep him in the hospital. I would have refused to do something I knew defied standards of care. Nevertheless, he is the president.

The White House medical unit can create an environment equivalent to an ICU if need be if it doesn’t already have an ICU bed standing by at all times. The care he will get there is world class.

Basically, it is equivalent to Walter Reed but without the immediate access to special testing capabilities or surgery.

If he needed something it would probably take 30 minutes. But with a medical versus a surgical diagnosis this is not much of a risk.

The biggest problem with turning the White House into a Walter Reed annex is the cost. The hospital is already set up for this but hey, it’s only money.

Try as might I can’t bring this down to just medical issues. We know some, but only a little about the president’s physical exam, disease course, and labs. He certainly looks better than someone who is very sick and I’m hopeful that there is no relapse.

It’s hard to tell if he is manifesting side effects from the steroids which is very common. Dexamethasone is associated with psychological changes including mood changes such as increased aggressiveness.

There is also dizziness and headache among other side-effects.

Bottom line; I still have no idea which direction the president’s illness is going. He is getting great care, better than you or I ever could. If there are no negative changes by Monday, he should be out of the woods. If things change, I will update.

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.

STERNBERG: Tragedy Proves COVID No Hoax


Tragedy Proves


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.

I graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Medicine in 1978.

Adeline Fagan graduated from the SUNY Buffalo School of Medicine in 2019. She started a residency program in obstetrics and gynecology in Houston. She died from COVID-19 Saturday, Sept. 19, age 28.

She most likely became infected working a shift in her hospital’s
emergency room in the late spring.

From what I’ve read, Adeline was lovely young woman. Since childhood she knew she wanted to be a doctor. The second of four sisters she had matched to a training program in Houston in 2019. She was a delightful caring person.

According to her sister whom she lived with, she always went to work with a smile on her face even if she had a 12- to 16-hour work shift ahead of her. She volunteered and served on three medical missions to Haiti before completing medical school. She played lacrosse. She was a good sister, daughter, and friend.

She was one of over 1,100 healthcare workers who died from COVID-19 in the United States.

Adeline became symptomatic in the first week of July. She was hospitalized on July 14. In early August she was placed on an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machine. This is similar to a heart-lung machine which pumps blood out of the body where it is then oxygenated allowing the heart and lungs to rest. In her case her lungs were not adequately functioning to get oxygen to her body.

She fought courageously for two months. Much longer than most people last but eventually effects of COVID-19 and complications of the ECMO overtook her and she died. She was unable to say goodbye.

I repeat, she was 28 years old. I repeat, over 1,100 healthcare workers have died from COVID-19 in the United States.

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.” Actually, I haven’t really taken it well so far.

People who claim COVID-19 is a fraud, a conspiracy, not really dangerous, and refuse to protect themselves or their families, other people, and me: Please have the integrity to be consistent and not ask for care when you and yours get sick.

Get to the back of the line when vaccines are being given out, (but ultimately get the vaccine to protect
the rest of us).

Taking care of you puts all healthcare workers and first responders at risk.

Now that you realize it is real, just crawl into bed, isolate yourself and your family, avoid direct contact with anyone not fully protected, cross your fingers, and pray.

Healthcare workers are already burned out, just like pretty much everybody else but even more so. They really don’t want to take care of people who had no respect for them.

To all the clowns at SUNY Oneonta who flagrantly defied social distancing and mask rules, you need to carefully read about the life and death of Adeline Fagan. Shame on you. Adeline was your contemporary.

For those still able to read about her, you are very lucky not to have contracted COVID-19 or if positive, get sick or die from it.

To those of you who assumed that students would behave responsibly and let that be your plan, shame on you.

To those so inclined, please join me in contributing to the GoFundMe page set up by Adeline’s sister. The money collected will help to pay their expenses that have accrued, loss of income of her family over the past three months, and funeral expenses.

Go to, hit search (the magnifying glass), and enter Adeline Fagan’s name.

STERNBERG: Without Mac, Trustees Average 65


Without MacGuire,

Trustees Average 65

To the Editor:

I strongly urge citizens of Cooperstown to vote for MacGuire Benton in the run-off election Tuesday, Sept. 29, for the Village Board.

I have worked with MacGuire on the board for 1½ years and before that in other endeavors for the past three years.

Mac is exceedingly hard working and thorough in his preparation. He has recognized issues and potential solutions, on occasion before the rest of us.

He has pushed for the continued improvement of Cooperstown and rehabilitation of its infrastructure.

He put forward the initiative to get Board meetings recorded and available for streaming to promote transparency in our government.

He has proposed bills that were subsequently approved unanimously.

Mac and members of his generation are the future of village government. Already he brings a perspective to a board that not including him averages over 65 years old.

He has demonstrated a willingness to learn and to improve his work.

Although he has been accused of it, when it comes to the village, he is not doctrinaire.

Mac has said that further rehabilitation and upgrades cannot be delayed any further administrations chose to do before 2009. As it is, we are already delayed this year in road upgrades by the pandemic crisis.

If we don’t fix things now, like water and sewers, even if short-term disruptive, the cost and disruption will be much greater when these systems ultimately, fail.

Vote for Mac in the run-off.

Village Trustee

STERNBERG: Getting Closer To Vaccine. Then What?

We’re Getting Closer To A

COVID-19 Vaccine. Then What?

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.

It appears that we are getting closer to the development of vaccines for COVID-19.

There have been some missteps in the process, including the development of an unexplained illness in one participant in the U.K. study of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine. This required a halt to the study for about a week while the data was being reviewed. The study is progressing again at this time.

There are multiple other studies. Some of the vaccines are further along than others.

It’s not going be enough to develop one vaccine. The number of doses that can be produced quickly is limited. It is currently estimated the first batch will be limited to perhaps 10 million to 15 million doses in the United States, according to the National Academy of Medicine. This is why it’s important to have multiple vaccines available so they can be produced in tandem.

So, the question comes back to triage, which is something we first discussed six months ago. In this case, in what order are the vaccines going to be rolled out? Who is going to get them first? Where are they going to be distributed first? Right now, this is a matter of heated opinion.

• In my opinion, and solely in my opinion, I feel the following distribution order should be performed:

• One, frontline healthcare workers who are dealing with patients with COVID-19, or can reasonably expect to come into contact with patients and other affected people with COVID-19. This would include people working in hospitals, nursing homes, emergency medical services, and clinics.

• Two, other essential workers at high risk of being exposed to patients, or people who have
COVID-19 or are positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

• Three, those with two or more risk factors, including age.

• Four, health care and essential workers at any risk of exposure based on their job.

• Five, those with only one risk factor.

• Six, children.

• Seven, adults older than 25.

• Eight, young adults.

My only exception to the above is that I would withhold vaccination for all those who have refused to social distance, wear a mask, have publicly proclaimed that the pandemic is a hoax, or have attended illegal mass gatherings.

At the rate that we can expect vaccinations to roll out, at best we will probably only get the first and possibly some of the second group inoculated within the next three to six months.

With the development of more vaccines by different companies, we might be able to get the entire United States vaccinated within nine to 15 months.

This of course does not discuss the problem of whether money or fame puts you at the head of
the line.

As many of us have noted, professional athletes have been getting tested at will so they can go back to their sports. Other people have to wait or had to use tests that are not instantly available.

We can predict a similar occurrence with who gets the vaccine first. Should VIPs have priority? Should their families? Should the vaccine be equally available in countries which develop it versus non-developed countries?

Just as it was a mad scramble for supplies when lockdowns first began, there’s going to be a mad scramble for the vaccines with people trying to find reasons to be put at the head of the line.

Ultimately there’s going to have to be some pre-existing protocol, or decision-making process in place to sort this out.

As I said above please contact me with your thoughts on these issues. I will make your responses the subject of a follow-up column.

STERNBERG: Studies Seek Vaccine, Treatments


Studies Seek Vaccine,

But Treatments Too

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.

There has been a great deal of information both published and awaiting publication in the scientific literature about COVID-19. There’s so much literature it’s sometimes difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, determining how accurate information may be no matter how well-meaning the researchers.

In the treatment of COVID-19. There are no fully FDA-approved medications or treatment protocols. So far, the FDA has released EUAs (emergency use authorizations) for certain medications or use of products.

An EUA is not formal approval in the legal sense of the word but rather, in times of declared states of emergency, allows use of an unapproved product or an approved product in an unapproved manner.

This is still based on scientific evidence and requires a review process, but it is not as stringent
and time consuming as a full FDA approval, which usually takes years.

Obviously, in the situation we are in now, we don’t have years.

An article published last week online by the Journal of the American Medical Association reviewed multiple studies on the effectiveness of using corticosteroids to treat COVID-19.

This showed that, in a statistical review of the pooled results of seven studies, systemic (intravenous) use of corticosteroids decreases the mortality rate of patients with severe COVID-19 by 20 percent.

The interim review of these studies so strongly showed a benefit of the use of steroids that further studies were halted since ethics required now treating all patients with severe COVID-19 with steroids.

Last week, the FDA extended its EUA for remdesivir, an antiviral drug. Previously, this drug had been allowed only for severe cases of COVID-19 with respiratory distress, but on Friday a statement was issued stating that, on the basis of all the literature available, the FDA felt it was reasonable to believe that Veklury (remdesivir) may be effective in the treatment of suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 in all hospitalized adult and pediatric patients and that the potential benefits outweigh the known and potential risks of its use.

The report did go on to say that more study was necessary to determine and confirm these results and to determine which patients stood to benefit most and at what dosage and over how long a course. The study was performed by the NIH.

In the early days of the pandemic, when there was spiking of cases in the U.S. and especially the Northeast, physicians used ventilators based on what they knew from other disease processes.

Based on what has been tried and learned from treating COVID-19, protocols have been
changed dramatically. Even determining which patients will benefit from a ventilator has been reconsidered.

Finally, one thing that I found particularly exciting was the use of Artificial Intelligence in helping to find treatments. AI is being used to predict what drug combinations in specific combinations and doses might be effective.

AI can cross-reference all known information about how a drug works and dosage schedules with those of other drugs and recommend treatment applications.

For example, while remdesivir has been proven to be statistically effective and, so far, is the most effective anti-viral treatment known, it still is not anywhere near universally effective.

An HIV medication, lopinavir/ritonavir, which had been tested and found lacking against COVID-19 when used by itself, has been suggested as making remdesivir more effective when combined. Based on the prediction, a study is in progress.

Scientists are not just waiting for an effective vaccine to try to prevent COVID-19 infection but continue to actively work on treatments for people who already have the disease. As time goes by, more information will be found and will be better vetted so that treatment options improve.

Even Now, Is Enough Being Done At SUNY?


Even Now, Is Enough

Being Done At SUNY?


“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” wrote George Santayana.

What about the recent history of the spread of COVID-19 and the attempted reopening of colleges was so difficult for SUNY Oneonta to learn?

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.

How can you trust 6,000 adolescents and very young adults to do what is correct when set free after being cooped up at home with their parents for six months?

Why are we now having a health crisis locally, which was preventable, which will definitely cause long-term disability and perhaps cause the death of some community members?

How does one private college do so much better in protecting its students and community then a public college in the same town, given the public one has more resources and certainly has more personnel to deal with the problem?

Otsego County and the City of Oneonta had been doing so well in keeping down the number of COVID 19 cases. Then students came back to town.

Hartwick College came up with a comprehensive plan that effectively tracked every single student and placed them in a bubble on campus.
No student was to leave campus. No living in outside housing. They required a contract between school and the students on how the students would behave and were prepared to enforce it.

They made sure that there would be social distancing between all students at all times. Hartwick has had one positive case.

SUNY Oneonta seems to have relied on completely responsible behavior and self-reporting on the part of its students. It refused to allow an open letter to the entire college community from Oneonta’s mayor to be distributed to the students; it included warning them of the consequences of violating the law.

When cases started popping up, the mayor requested a meeting with the president of the college and was denied it.

At last count (Tuesday morning) we have 178 active cases in the city, most of them among students and contrary to what the students expected, a lot of them are getting sick.

Now that the case numbers are getting higher and the SUNY chancellor just came to the college to see for himself what is going on and speak to the administration, we are finally getting a response. Still the response seems to be relying too much on students doing the right thing.

In my opinion, the following needs to be done.

Unfortunately, not acting earlier requires somewhat draconian measures now.

Any student not properly social distancing and wearing a mask or otherwise violating rules needs to be suspended immediately and, in the more extreme cases, expelled. Students who knows of a violation and does not report it must suffer consequences themselves. (This is essentially the service academies’ Code of Honor).

Only students who are living on campus, where the environment can be controlled to any extent, should be allowed to attend classes in person. Some exceptions might be made for graduate students.
Campus police, city police, the county sheriff’s department, and state police now must aggressively enforce state and local laws and executive emergency orders.

No exception. No further warnings – 245 cases are warning enough (and by the time this is printed and read, I predict at least twice as many known cases).

Citizens notifying the police of violations need to have their identity protected to prevent retribution.
Aggressive testing has been started in the community and this will need to be continued.

A local law to mandate mask wearing everywhere in public needs to be implemented and enforced.
Does it also now need a sharp uptick in local fatalities to initiate further action?

Possibly this outbreak can be turned around with minimal damage to the health and welfare of the citizens of the City and County and a slowing of damage to the students. Only highly aggressive actions now are acceptable.

Week 1, All Agree: Masks Being Worn In Downtown Coop

Week 1, All Agree:

Masks Being Worn

In Downtown Coop

Masked and enjoying Main Street are, from left, dad Kevin, Alexis and Addington Kress, Olivia Guida, and mom Christine Kress, visiting from Little Falls last Sunday. (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN •  Special to

COOPERSTOWN – Kevin Kress, who was raised in Richfield Springs, brought his family from Little Falls to Cooperstown last weekend, and was neither surprised by the village’s new mandatory-mask law, or that most everybody seemed to be obeying it.

“We were in Lake Placid last weekend; they had done the same thing there,” said Kress, who was aware – and undeterred by – the new restrictions, which he’d heard about in a report on WKTV-TV, Utica.

Locally, Village Board members who had crafted the law, and businesspeople who may have worried about it, seemed to unanimously agree that the first weekend of the new strictures had gone smoothly.

Mayor Tillapaugh

Saturday, Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch went into the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market while hubby Gary Kuch, the town justice, sat in the car waiting and watching.

“What’s your take, Gary?” she asked on finishing her shopping. “He said, ‘Easily, 97 or 98 percent are compliant. Those who don’t wear it have it around their necks.’”

“I walked Main Street a little bit,” she said. “I found the same thing.”

Village police patrolled, but didn’t have to give out any citations, the mayor said. They asked a few people to put on their masks, and they did. (She emphasized: If they had been issued citations, fines – they are authorized to $1,000 – wouldn’t go to the village, but into state coffers.)

Trustee Richard Sternberg, who has been most hawkish about the need to require mask-wearing, had a similar experience. “I thought I was seeing a higher percentage of masks,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s just a statistical variance. Some people weren’t aware of the new law yet.”

Jess Lanza

Jess Lanza, new board chair at the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce, estimated adherence to the law “in the 90 percentile” along Main Street. In Kate’s Upstate, the fashion store he operates with his wife, “we haven’t had any issue with people coming in and fussing about it,” even under the less strict state order.

“We didn’t have any issues or anything,” agreed Laurie Fink, Tin Bin Alley proprietor. “From my perspective, the first weekend went very well.”

The Village Board unanimously passed the law Monday, Aug. 10, requiring masks to be worn on Main Street between Fair Street and Pine Boulevard, and on Pioneer between Church and Lake. The law was reviewed by Village Attorney Martin Tillapaugh, then filed with the New York secretary of state by week’s end, and it went into effect.

The law enhances Governor Cuomo’s executive order requiring people to wear masks within six feet of each other; because of sidewalk cafes, the trustees were worried pedestrians are unable to maintain the required distance on downtown sidewalks.

Concerned that there be enforcement, Sternberg said he had engaged village patrolmen in conversations about their plans to walk Main Street sidewalks.

Trustee Sternberg

But that was before he and the rest of the trustees received an email from the mayor clarifying the chain of command: “She is the sole authority to speak to police,” as well as Village Administrator Teri Barown, he said. “She is correct.”

(However, if Tillapaugh and Barown are both out of town, he continued, the Village Board can meet and designate an acting mayor until one of the women returns.)

Meanwhile, the “Masks on Main” effort to alert out-of-towners to the new law is continuing, with signage, “masks required,” placed in the rain gardens along Main Street, the mayor said.

“We ordered more signage after the law passed Monday night,” she said. “Sandwich boards should be in this week,” she added.

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.

‘Indian’ Erasure Revisited
Sternberg Asks For Second Look

‘Indian’ Erasure Revisited

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to


COOPERSTOWN –Enough with “11th hour resolutions,” Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch is concluding.

At issue at hand is a resolution, passed unanimously by the Village Board Monday, June 22, asking the state Education Department to consider removing the word “Indians” from the Historic Marker at Council Rock, and perhaps the one at the Indian Mound marker, too.

As the trustees’ meeting was coming to an end, Trustee MacGuire Benton had jumped in to say a constituent had told him using the word “Indians” is “insensitive.”

Trustee Richard Sternberg quickly recast Benton’s remarks in resolution form, which within minutes was put to a vote asking the state Education Department to change the language.

This Monday, the 29th, Sternberg issued an apology. “After discussions with people much more knowledgeable than I about tribal histories and affairs,” he stated in a press release, “I realized that my wording was poor and that I didn’t even state well what my true intention was.

“I have requested that the other trustees delay implementing it until I can withdraw and replace it,” he wrote.

How might that be avoided in the future?

“I don’t want to hamper anybody in any way,” said Mayor Tillapaugh. “But there has to be more research and nuanced phrasing. There is recognition, all around, that there was not.”

She continued: “Subsequently, I’ve heard that Kevin Gover, a citizen of the Pawnee Nation and director of the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, has no problem with the word ‘Indian’.”

Some do object to “Native American,” she said, and they point out their ancestors were on this continent long before Amerigo Vespucci was born.

“They believe they are members of their tribes first,” she added.

Going forward, the mayor said she is going to ask trustees to submit prospective resolutions to Village Administrator Teri Barown by the Friday before each meeting. It can then be included in the packet of information trustees review over the weekend in advance of their monthly meeting.

She is also referring the “Indians” matter to the village’s Parks Board, chaired by Trustee Jeanne Dewey, to come to an understanding of what sensitivities, if any, surround the word “Indians” and whether any further action is warranted.

For his part, Benton, the trustee who started the whole thing, said he supports Sternberg’s decision to withdraw the motion.

Still, he echoed the resolution: “I see the village reaching out to tribal leaders in Upstate New York and the state Education Department to update the signage as they see fit.”

He also envisions a telephone number alongside the Historic Markers that people could “essentially, dial one for a full history, instead of a couple of sentences.”

He further suggested, “I do hope the signage about General Clinton is changed to reflect history more accurately and to honor native history. General Clinton led an ethnic cleansing campaign, and I don’t think the sign accurately reflects it.”

Resolution On ‘Indian’ Withdrawn


On ‘Indian’


Hearing ‘More Knowledgeable

People,’ He Changed His Mind

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Dr. Sternberg

COOPERSTOWN – Village Trustee Richard Sternberg is withdrawing his resolution that would seek the removal of the word “Indian” or “Indians” from historical markers in the village, he announced a few minutes ago.

“After discussions with people much more knowledgeable than I about tribal histories and affairs, I realized that my wording was poor and that I didn’t even state well what my true intention was,” he said in a statement.

STERNBERG: The Elephant In The Room


The Elephant

In The Room

To me, there is no more important concept in The War Against COVID-19 than triage. defines this as “the sorting of and allocation of treatment to patients, and especially battle and disaster victims, according to a system of priorities designed to maximize the number of survivors.”

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.

So far, triage is being used to determine who is taken to, or just allowed to go to, hospital emergency rooms.
EMTs in New York City have been instructed to make evaluations as to whether the caller will need
hospital services or can be deferred, a process that was always done at the emergency room before.

This is being done to protect the caller from the virus as well as to minimize utilization of resources.

In Italy in many cases, the use of a ventilator had to be triaged between patients who were felt to have a reasonable chance of survival and those who didn’t.

We haven’t quite reached that stage in New York, but according to Governor Cuomo we are close. We are running out of ventilators, even with stretching their use to the maximum and adapting BiPAP machines for use in some patients.

We are running out of healthcare workers whether due to COVID-19, positive coronavirus tests, or simply plain exhaustion. In my opinion, very soon, if not already, decisions will need to be made regarding the level of care new patients receive.

Traditionally, decisions like this have been made on the spot by the individual doctor in charge, almost always in a mass trauma situation. The need has rarely come up. While the governor talks about New York State now being one integrated health system, triage is being left up to the individual hospitals and sometimes providers.

The decision process should be consistent. Providers have a tough enough time determining the severity of illness and performing the treatment. In November 2015, the state Task Force on Life and the Law issued Ventilation Allocation Guidelines. This clearly and in great detail laid out guidelines and their rationale. But guidelines work best when there is an order by either the Governor or the Commissioner of Health.

I hope, the fact, that clever people have come up with ways to stretch the use of ventilators and other hospital respiratory equipment to satisfy the need.

I hope there will be enough medication and other treatments for everybody.

I hope there will be enough healthcare professionals to administer and perform necessary care. But it doesn’t seem that there is.

It is really unpleasant and no one, especially our political leaders, wants to have to order such guidelines, rather than have it just tacitly understood, but I feel it’s necessary for full transparency, to give our doctors, nurses, and other providers guidance to make decisions and to protect themselves, and allow the public to understand what is and may have to be the decision-making process.

STERNBERG: Why Wasn’t More Done Sooner?


Why Wasn’t More

Done Sooner?


 Over the last several days I reviewed a great deal of material regarding COVID-19 and the novel coronavirus. I looked at videos. I read scientific and lay papers. I scanned media reports. All to determine what to write about.
It was like drinking from a fire hose.

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.

But the Monday, March 30, announcement by Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, acknowledging that the best case scenario would be 100,000-200,000 deaths, made me really angry.

That’s not only because it is unacceptable that so many innocent lives will be lost, or because I know a great number of healthcare providers, first responders and public servants will be among them because of lack of proper protective equipment.

What made me angry was that again government officials kept painting a relatively rosy picture of problems either being or coming under control.

The last two months has shown the continued denial by America’s so-called leaders and lack of preparation that will probably lead to hundreds of thousands of unnecessary cases and deaths.

Why did they not learn from the outbreak in China and its response to it? In this modern age how could they begin to believe that it would not come to the United States? Why did they not prepare?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Disease who has generally been the voice of comfort, reason, honesty and reconciliation, has been repeatedly heavily criticized by some people in that he was not sufficiently loyal to President Trump.

This might be the man who has been really holding everything together at least on a national level. His numbers and statistics have been doubted and called fraudulent. My God, I wonder how we would be doing without him advising the president.

For several weeks, New York City Mayor Bill DiBlasio told New Yorkers they didn’t have to inconvenience themselves significantly during this outbreak. Where was he getting his information from and why was he contradicting the experts?

Many of our leaders have failed us. I can think of some exceptions, especially locally.

Otsego County Board Chairman Dave Bliss and Bassett Healthcare under the leadership of Dr. William Streck both started planning relatively sooner than many others. Bassett, in fact, began its planning way back in January before the first cases were reported in the United States. More on these in subsequent columns.

Right now, I don’t know what to believe. There are professionals, epidemiologists and statisticians, who provide data to support real predictions on how this will turn out. We all need to seek out these sources and then trust them.

I feel that at this point the only public figures I can trust to be straightforward and honest with us are Dr. Fauci and Governor Cuomo.

In the meantime, there are many good places to get information relevant to those of us in Otsego County. The website (hit the link on top of the home page) has all the information Bassett has put out along with some excellent videos.

The state Department of Health,, and the governor’s daily news conferences are also excellent sources of information.

I know that being angry is not going to help but it is the way I feel right now. I hope that other areas of the country stop their denial and learn from New York State’s experience.

I can also hope for some early breakthrough in treatment or immunization but that does not appear likely.

STERNBERG: Trustee Backs Colleagues In March 18 Village Polling

Trustee Backs Colleagues

In March 18 Village Polling

To the Editor:

I endorse and urge you to go out and vote for Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh and Trustee MacGuire (Mac) Benton for re-election and Trustee Joe Membrino for election to the Cooperstown Village Board. I have worked with all of them on the board, on village committees and other boards, and in other endeavors, and they have all been selfless in their positions, working for the best interest of the entire Cooperstown community.

The election is noon-9 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, at the firehall.

Mayor Tillapaugh has worked tirelessly to continue our spectacular infrastructure improvement, getting it paid
for mostly with grants, and without a tax increase, something that began with former Mayor Jeff Katz. She was born here and has lived in Cooperstown most of her life. She brings an institutional memory to decision making to the Board members’ discussions.

I have worked on many projects with Mac and am impressed with his energy, eagerness to learn, and how much he cares about Coopers-town, where he has lived all of his life. Mac has put forwarded initiatives that have earned 100 percent Board support, something rare for a freshman Trustee. I have seen him lead and develop various groups of civic minded individuals, many of them young like himself. He has worked a full time and part time job while putting in many hours a week into his Trustees’ duties. He brings needed youth to the Board and represents the future of Cooperstown government.

I have worked with Joe Membrino first on the Planning Board in 2015 and then on the Board of Trustees and Finance and Personnel committees since 2019. He is a lawyer and a dedicated public servant who brings the knowledge of a long
career in government service to the table. In the Trustees’ deliberations, he is thoughtful, pragmatic, and straightforward.
He has very diligently and exhaustively reviewed all the documents presented to him and carefully reviewed all 1,000+ line items in the 2020-21 budget frequently raising important questions.

The Village has definitely been continuing to move in the right direction over the last decade. It has increased spending by 100 percent while keeping real estate taxes to its citizens flat. For this we have Mayor Tillapaugh and the other dedicated Board members like Mac and Joe to thank and I urge you to vote to keep them.

Village Trustee

Cooperstown Rotary Applauds Delgado

Cooperstown Rotary

Applauds Delgado

Detail In Congressman’s Remarks Lauded

Introduced by Cooperstown’s Richard Sternberg, a state Democratic Committee member, Congressman Antonio Delgado, D-19, acknowledges applause at today’s noontime Cooperstown Rotary Club meeting at The Otesaga. At left are Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch and her predecessor, Jeff Katz; at right, Melinda Hardin, a Democratic activist. Delgado’s description of his legislative efforts ranged from aid to small farms, to combining all federal regulatory requirements on one website, to creating a Medicaid- or Medicare-based “public option” to encourage health-insurance competition, to a $50 billion Rebuild Rural America Act, which would bypass state government and provide block grants directly to localities. Attorney Bob Birch told Delgado that no congressman who has addressed the club in his 30 years as a Rotarian had spoken with such specificity. Delgado planned a stop in Oneonta later in the afternoon. At right, Jim Miles, a consultant with The Leatherstocking Corp., which owns The Otesaga, and Otsego General Manager/Vice President John Shideler, brief the congressman on tourism-related issues. (Jim Kevlin /

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