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News of Otsego County

vaccination

STERNBERG: COVID – Here we go again

Column by Richard Sternberg, M.D.

COVID: Here we go again

There are 3006 counties, 14 boroughs, 11 census areas, 64 parishes, and multiple independent cities in the United States. The good news is that The Center for Disease Control reports that only 79 of these have a high incidence of COVID transmission.

The bad news is that of the 79, 36 or almost half are in or surround Central New York. Risk in Otsego County is only moderate, but it is contiguous to high-risk areas.

On Friday of last week, Otsego County reported 47 new COVID cases. This represents approximately a four-to-five-fold increase from one month ago. Testing positivity is up to 8.8%. What are we doing wrong?

On the relatively good side, there have been only 16 deaths year-to-date in Otsego County attributed to COVID. Case rate is increasing, but it does not appear that the death rate is increasing, at least not significantly.

In the past week alone, the person whom I went to visit on Saturday wouldn’t let me in his house because his wife tested positive that morning. The visit devolved into a shouting conversation from about 60 feet apart.

Fully vaccinated Governor Hochul tests positive for Covid-19

Fully vaccinated Governor
Hochul tests positive for Covid-19

After testing positive for Covid, Governor Hochul issued the following statement over the weekend: “Today I tested positive for COVID-19. Thankfully, I’m vaccinated and boosted, and I’m asymptomatic. I’ll be isolating and working remotely this week. A reminder to all New Yorkers: get vaccinated and boosted, get tested, and stay home if you don’t feel well.”

Out of My Shell

Column by Dr. Richard Sternberg

Out of My Shell

Last week, I took a major step for myself and poked my head out of my shell. I decided that the situation with COVID is really not going to get much better. It is going to be endemic like the flu or the common cold and we’re going to have to deal with it. It’s time to get life back to as normal as possible.

I decided to take a trip to New York City, specifically Manhattan. There were several things that I wanted to do, and I haven’t been able to do for over two years. My personal schedule gave me a small window of opportunity to make the trip. I was also interested to see the response in the city to the continued presence of COVID and increase in lab-positive cases.

I went to a museum and I went to a Broadway show off Times Square. I also had a report from a friend of the crowd reaction at New York Rangers hockey game.

One day I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art specifically to see a special event, a major retrospective of the works of Winslow Homer. By the way, if you have any interest in American art, you must get down to see this exhibit. It is worth the trip. These major retrospectives of Homer occur only approximately once every 25 years. This one is every bit as spectacular as the last one was in the mid-90s.

Film Days to go virtual again

Film Days to go virtual again

STAFF REPORT • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Glimmerglass Film Days, a program of Otsego 2000, will present a virtual film festival, plus five in-person events Nov. 4 to 11.

Curated by Artistic Director Margaret Parsons and Programmer Joey Katz, the slate of independent documentaries and narrative features and shorts reflects the theme “Rise.”

Rise” is a word of elastic meanings, and we were first inspired by the term at the start of 2021, hearing Amanda Gorman’s use of it in her poem, ‘The Hill We Climb,’” said Parsons. “The films in this year’s program all reflect some note of ‘rising up,’ but these notes also are beautifully whimsical.”

Based on a survey, Otsego 2000 decided to hold the full festival online for the second year in a row. However, there will be five films shown at the Grandstand Theater at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and at Templeton Hall in Cooperstown. The five films also will be online.

The theme ‘Rise’ captures this duality, as it serves as a beacon of hope and new beginnings but also a word of warning in terms of sea levels and global temperatures,” said Ellen Pope, executive director of Otsego 2000. The films include selections from 15 different countries as well as works by indigenous filmmakers.

A Glimmerglass Pass costs $75 and provides online access to 26 feature-length films and two shorts programs, plus online filmmaker talks. All films will be able to be viewed beginning at 7 p.m., Nov. 4. Tickets to individual online films are $5. Both the Glimmerglass Pass and online film tickets are good for a household.

Tickets to the in-person screenings are $10 per person and not included with the Glimmerglass Pass. To attend in-person events, proof of vaccination (NY Excelsior Pass or CDC vaccination card) and photo ID are required. Face masks will be required while watching films.

Passes, tickets, descriptions of each film, and trailers are available at glimmerglassfilmdays.org.

Opinion by Richard Sternberg M.D.: There is good news to report on COVID prevention

Opinion by Richard Sternberg M.D.
There is good news to report on COVID prevention

Last week, Merck and Company announced that an experimental pill they are working on to treat COVID-19 early in the course of the disease to keep patients from becoming seriously ill or dying is proving safe and effective. After discussion with the FDA, it and Merck felt the results were so good they decided to close additional enrollment to the trial. They will finish out the study in approximately November and then present the results and ask for approval for emergency authorization. Production of the pills has already started so as to be ready for rapid distribution when approved.

This is the first easy-to-use treatment specifically for COVID. It is a pill that when taken as prescribed early in the course of symptoms will decrease the risk of hospitalization and death by about 50%.

The drug is called malnupiravir. It is in oral form and easily taken at home. It must be started within five days of the onset of symptoms. This makes it important for people who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to get tested immediately (there is now a national backlog of testing, slowing down availability of results) and see their doctor at the onset. Treatment is eight pills daily for five days. This is very much like oral medication people use at early onset of influenza.

RUDY: State should mndate vaccinations for its employees

LETTER from JOHN A. RUDY

State should mandate
vaccinations for its employees

The unions representing New York state troopers and public school teachers oppose a mandatory vaccination requirement for their members. At the same time, more and more private employers are requiring vaccination by their employees as a condition of continued employment.

Conservatives regularly argue that government should emulate the private sector in its employment practices. A vaccination mandate is a good place to start.

For those state troopers and teachers who choose not to be vaccinated and thereby to ignore the risk they pose to us taxpayers and children with whom they come in contact, I suggest that they have at least two other choices:

1) find another line of work;

2) move to Florida or Texas.

John A. Rudy
Cooperstown

STERNBERG: Here we go again with the coronavirus pandemic

Life in the Time of Covid-19

Here we go again with
the coronavirus pandemic

erna
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.

Several months ago, I stopped writing my weekly column on life in the time of Covid-19. The rollout of the vaccinations was going well locally, the numbers of people hospitalized locally were low, and organizations were opening up. The Rotary Club that I belong to in Cooperstown was making plans to go back to meetings in person.

I was also recovering from major surgery and it was difficult physically to put together the columns.

I thought for the most part my job was done. Now, here we go again.

In many places in the United States the numbers of the sick and dying from Covid-19 are rapidly increasing in areas where there is a low percentage of vaccinated individuals. It also correlates with places that opened in an unrestricted fashion. Many first-line healthcare workers are completely burned out and can’t begin to understand how people who could have avoided this very deadly and debilitating disease refused to do so and even refused to acknowledge that in many cases it was real. What is particularly disturbing is seeing patients begging to be vaccinated as they are being rolled into intensive care units.

Yes, there is a risk of complications from vaccination. There is a risk of complications from everything we do or food we eat or medicine we take. Riding in a car is a risk.

PLIMPTON: Dreams Park Orders C-19 Shots – For 12-Year-Olds?
LETTER from JODI PLIMPTON-WERSTEIN

Dreams Park Orders C-19

Shots – For 12-Year-Olds?

To the Editor:

Otsego County wants its 12-year-olds back. But the question of the day is: Are they too young to be vaccinated?

Last week, parents of athletes looking to attend the Cooperstown Dreams Park experience this summer, were notified that in order to participate, they will be requiring proof of vaccination for anyone 12 years old and up. Anyone under 12 years old, simply has to provide proof of negative test (however, they did not give a timeframe for how recent that test needed to be).

As you can imagine, there is MASSIVE backlash from parents for this decision, and timing of notification, as well as the numerous things grossly wrong with these requirements. First, and foremost, there is not even a vaccine available or approved for use in anyone under the age of 16. At this point, there is only ONE vaccine available for 16- to 18-year-olds, and ZERO available for anyone younger than that. So, they are putting a requirement for play, that is completely unattainable. That’s like saying the grass needs to turn purple in order for anyone to be able to attend. Those that were able to get through to CDP yesterday, and speak to someone about this egregious plan, state that CDP told them that they will be taking the summer on a week by week basis, and if the vaccine isn’t available for an upcoming week, then they will simply cancel that week and move onto the next one.

Leaving people out all of their entry money, travel expenses, lodging expenses etc, and they claim that they are FIRM on this policy.

SUNY Helps Public Get Vaccinated
SUNY Helps Public

2,000 Flyers Distributed By Students

SUNY Oneonta students Barbara Lewis and Eddie Lopez designed the 2,000 leaflets being distributed to the public. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

Over 50 SUNY Oneonta students have joined forces in an effort to spread the word about the availability of COVID vaccinations to communities across Otsego County.

“We organized this within days” said Linda Drake, director of the college’s Center for Social Responsibility & Community, which organized the effort. “Students made schedules in 24 hours and we have every mobile home park and low income housing development from New Berlin to Sidney. It’s been great service to our community.”

STERNBERG: A&D, OPT, Other Transportation Services Step Up

LETTER from RICHARD STERNBERG

A&D, OPT, Other

Transportation Services Step Up

erna
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 and multitudes of people, from the President of the United States on down, have tried to convince people to get vaccinated when they are eligible, and to maintain basic public health precautions; wearing masks properly, washing hands and surfaces frequently, and maintaining social distance. Only about 60 percent of the adult population has followed these recommendations and a similar percent say they will get vaccinated.

If this continues, we may never get to go back to things the way they were, because enough of the population will remain vulnerable and the virus will still circulate and mutate. Once it mutates enough, it will defeat the immunity provided by most of the vaccines.

So, to the people who refuse to follow the best practices to eliminate COVID as a continued threat to normal, social, life, if you are not going to get the shot for some reason you picked up through rumor, learned on the internet or because of political position, maybe you will try to protect yourself, friends and family. If not, it is hurting you where it really matters, in the wallet.

Springbrook Tells Staff: Get Vaccinated, Get $500 Bonus

Springbrook Tells Staff:

Get Vaccinated, Get $500 Bonus

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

With 35 percent of its employees not yet vaccinated, Springbrook is offering a $500 enticement to encourage them to get the COVID-19 vaccine shot.

“This is important, this is safe,” said Springbrook CEO Patricia Kennedy. “It’s going to get us back to where we want to be, being with the people we want to be with and doing things we want to do.

That’s my message for all our employees and the community.”

There’s a distinction between new employees we put in place in January.”

As for the residents on the Milford Center campus, 95 percent have been vaccinated.

Much To Be Proud Of In Response To COVID-19
EDITORIAL

Much To Be Proud Of
In Response To COVID-19

(Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

Despite the chilling toll – 3,483 COVID-19 cases and 54 deaths – Otsego County people, our neighbors, friends and family, have a lot to be proud of as we ended The Year of The Pandemic on Monday, March 15, we found in revisiting the last 52 editions of this newspaper.

Throughout, there was worry, dismay and grief in the face of the implacable and mysterious foe, but little panic. In reviewing the newspapers, there was, and is, much determination, focus and purpose among our neighbors and our community leaders.

At the county level, board Chairman David Bliss promptly issued an emergency declaration on Friday, March 15, 2020, that outlined many of the steps that have marked our lives since then. Going forward from there, the county board was tough and visionary in the face of disappearing sales- and bed-tax revenues.

The reps laid off 59 FTEs, no fun for anyone. Then – guided by county Treasurer Allen Ruffles – they assembled a plan based on historically low-interest loans and fast-tracking roadwork, which the state CHIPS program still reimburses, to ensure solvency. When President Biden’s $11 million stimulus allocation was announced in recent days, it was appreciated at 197 Main, but not essential.

On a parallel track, county Health Department rallied under Public Health Director Heidi Bond, doing the COVID testing and contact tracing that – along with masks and social distancing – have been central in controlling the disease to the extent we have.

She was already heralded as this newspaper’s 2020 Citizen of the Year, but not enough appreciation can be expressed to her team’s hard work and accomplishment.

STERNBERG: Neighbors Helping Neighbors Get Shots
LETTER from RICHARD STERNBERG

Neighbors Helping
Neighbors Get Shots

erna
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.

This past weekend Bassett performed an amazing feat of vaccinating a large group of people, more than 1,100 over two days. The confirmation of vaccine availability only came though on Wednesday, March 3, leaving but two full days to prepare. Nevertheless, I visited on Sunday and it had the appearance of a military operation (which in a sense it was).

The Bassett community, from Dr. Tommy Ibrahim on down should be proud, as should the staff of the Clark Sports Center, which hosted the event.

I want to especially commend the Bassett Director of Network Pharmacy, Kelly Rudd, Pharm.D., who was in command of the clinic from planning through implementation.

She worked from the list of patients from the state, a list of patients from Bassett’s own scheduling system, and an ad hoc group of volunteers who worked to contact and track down people qualified to be vaccinated, but for whom the computer-driven scheduling system was difficult or even impossible to use.

Also, many thanks are due to the Bassett staff who took the time to make hundreds of calls to help schedule seniors 65+.

There are many reports of computer-savvy individuals signing up friends, family members, and neighbors for vaccine appointments. To see this community spirit and kindness is a great thing.

The clinic was also able to smoothly access the waiting list to make sure no dose went unused. The volunteer group – which went out and identified about 175 people who had difficulty finding appointments on their own – included church members, other faith-based organizations, philanthropic NGOs (non-government organizations) including the Community Foundation of Otsego County, and additional individuals.

Many had been working on an individual basis, but recognized the synergy of working together.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: ‘Outsmarting The Pandemic’ Webinar 03-11-21
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for THURSDAY, MARCH 11

‘Outsmarting The Pandemic’ Webinar

14-19eventspage

WEBINAR SERIES – 7 p.m. Online series ‘Outsmarting the Pandemic’ continues with presentation ‘COVID-19 Vaccines: Worth A Shot’ on the how the vaccines work, how modern vaccines are developed, more. Free, registration required. Presented by A.J. Read Science Discovery Center, SUNY Oneonta. 607-436-2011 or visit www.eventbrite.com/o/science-discovery-center-and-planetarium-14332374215

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