SUBSCRIBE MY PROFILE
HOME | BREAKING NEWS | POLICE & FIRE | IN MEMORIAM | PEOPLE | OPINION
 JOBS  
 DINING & ENTERTAINMENT  
 HOMES  
 CARS  
 FUNERAL HOMES  
 GOODS & SERVICES

News of Otsego County

second wave

As We Count Our Blessings, Let’s Stay The Course
This Christmas, Hope Should Be Foremost

As We Count Our Blessings,

Let’s Stay The Course

December 14, 2020 – Queens, NY – Sandra Lindsay, left, a registered nurse and Director of Critical Care at Northwell Health, receives the COVID-19 vaccine during a live conference with Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. (Scott heins/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

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.

End of Coronavirus Is Near, Multiple Vaccines Tell Us
Editorial

End of Coronavirus Is Near,

Multiple Vaccines Tell Us

For Now, Wear Masks, Social Distance, Avoid Crowds
In his Nov. 23 briefing, Governor Cuomo reported Cooperstown had the lowest COVID infection rate in the state.

You hear talk about a “second wave” of COVID-19, and it’s here. But take heart. In context, we’re not seeing the end of the beginning, but the beginning of the end.

USA Today’s lead headline Monday was “Moderna seeks emergency FDA approval for COVID-19 vaccine,” and it was echoed in all the national newspapers – the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post – and many local ones that still publish on Mondays.

That was foretold last week on the front page of this paper: “VACCINE DUE: Local Drugstores Prepare To Give Protective Shots.”

Moderna was the third out of the gate, after Pfizer and AstraZeneca sought FDA approval in the past week.

Our county public health director, Heidi Bond, echoes the national predictions: We can expect to begin administering a vaccine to health workers by mid-December (still-President Trump says next week), and to the general public by April.

OK. But it’s hard to imagine the public will have to wait until spring. The supply will be taking off and demand will be rising.

In an interview in early April, when this all began, Bond told that, since 9/11, this county – among many others in New York State – conducted exercises to see how quickly the local population could be vaccinated if biological warfare struck.

The answer: Staff and volunteer nurses could vaccinate everyone in the county in four days. Four days.

The good news has been sensibly muted by the remaining threat. Public officials – our mayors, in particular, who are on the front lines – don’t want to say we’re out of the woods. And we aren’t.

Still, it was particularly heartening when Governor Cuomo, in his daily briefing Nov. 23, identified Cooperstown as the community with the lowest infection rate in the state, 0.24 percent – about one person in 400. That’s one quarter of one percent, compared to Lancaster, the Buffalo suburb, at a high of 9.68 – about one person in 10.

Cooperstown’s low rate didn’t just happen. Mayor Tillapaugh and the Village Board have been constant and unanimous in messaging: wear masks, social distance, avoid crowds.

That the village could be singled out after hosting people from around the country over the summer – fewer certainly – affirms the local leadership.

Still, countywide we’re in the midst of that predicted second wave, with daily infections hitting a one-day record of 30 last week. This past Monday, there were 19 in-county cases reported.

The City of Oneonta, after largely avoiding infections from 700-plus cases that erupted on SUNY Oneonta at the end of August, is now the epicenter of this second wave. With local bars as the flashpoints, 66 of last week’s 130 cases countywide were in the city and town of Oneonta.

Like Tillapaugh, Oneonta’s Gary Herzig has been an activist mayor, using his bully pulpit to promote safety measures, and forming the “Survive, Then Thrive” committee to do what might be done to help the local economy. Early on, he raised the alarm that things were awry at SUNY Oneonta, paving the way for COVID-fighter Dennis Craig’s appointment as interim president.

Craig is working his way around pockets of faculty resistance, building consensus around a reopening plan, aimed for now at Feb. 1, but – Craig is the first to say – subject to adjustment, depending where we are at the time.

All that said, the emerging national strategy for rolling out the vaccinations makes sense. Certainly, vaccinate front-line and healthcare workers first. Then, vaccinate everyone over 50.

The numbers suggest that will largely eradicate the plague.

As of Nov. 25, 240,213 Americans had died of COVID, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 220,852 were 55 and over; 19,361 were under 55.

That means 92 percent of COVID’s victims have been 55 and older; only 8 percent, 54 and younger.

About 30 percent of all Americans are 55 and older, yet they make up 92 percent of victims. Vaccinate a third of the nation (110 million people of 320 million total), solve 92 percent of the problem.

It’s a cold calculation, but a practical one.

Meanwhile, nobody wants to be the last person to die from COVID. And, while the odds are much, much better for younger Americans, nobody’s completely safe. For the love of the people who love you, wear masks, social distance, avoid crowds.

Posts navigation

21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103