News of Otsego County



Documentary and Discussion
with The Innocence Project

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INNOCENCE PROJECT—9-10 p.m. The community is invited to watch the documentary, “The Central Park 5,” about the five Black and Latino teenagers whose lives were upended when they were falsely convicted in the Central Park jogger case. Followed on February 8 by a presentation from one of the five as well as a staff member of the Innocence Project. Hunt Union Red Dragon Theater, SUNY Oneonta. 607-436-3012 or visit

BLOOD DRIVE—12:30-5:30 p.m. Save up to three lives with the American Red Cross. Worcester Municipal Building, 19 Katie Lane, Worcester. Register at

VACCINE CLINIC—4-6 p.m. The Health Department will be offering the Bi-Valent COVID-19 booster vaccines. Registration required. Will be held in the EMS/Civil Service Classroom, Otsego County Meadows Complex, 140 County Highway 33W, Cooperstown. (607) 547-4230 or register at

Life in the time of COVID: Current Concepts and Constant Change
Life in the time of COVID

Current Concepts and Constant Change

Things in the world of COVID are rapidly and constantly changing. This week’s column is a brief compendium of some of these changes.

The alphabet soup of COVID variants and subvariants grows daily. Four weeks ago, we were talking about the new Omicron variant XBB. Now we are reading about the subvariant daily. A month ago, we were starting to discuss the properties of the original XBB. Now XBB.1.5 is considered the most infectious version of COVID yet. It’s not clear if symptoms are going to be worse than previous versions, but it does appear that regardless of previous infectious or vaccine status, almost everybody is going to be infected.

STERNBERG: Déjà Vu All Over Again
Life in the Time of Covid

Déjà Vu All Over Again

It’s the end of the year and it’s time to reflect where we are regarding many issues. With this column principally about COVID or other viral illnesses, today we will limit ourselves to that. I really regret having to be the Grinch.

The title of today’s column is a very famous statement credited to the great American philosopher Lawrence Peter Berra, who is also credited with many similar statements which appear to be malapropisms until you look carefully at them. “Déjà vu all over again” is one of those statements as it applies to COVID. Things have repeated themselves more than once.

First, anyone who tells you with any certainty that they know what will happen next, has a bridge to sell you. When I look back at this year it looks pretty much the same as the end of 2021 and the end of 2020. We would like to think we are beating the disease, but we aren’t.

STERNBERG: Diligence Called for, Now More Than Ever
Column by Richard Sternberg, M. D.

Diligence Called for,
Now More Than Ever

Again, just when it seemed we reached the point where we can go out with people and decrease our use of masks, COVID strikes back and possibly with more virulence than previous strains. The number of new strains to consider is large. New strains include BA.5.2.6, BA.4.1.9, BE.1.2, BA.4.7, BF.13 and XBB, among others. Already BA.5 and BA.4 strains have high penetrance in the U.S. The new and improved booster shots only use RNA to code for the original strains, BA.1 and BA.2

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others warn that this year the winter viral season will be worse than usual because we have to deal with flu and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus). A side effect of the lockdowns and protective behavior over the last two years has been decreased contact between people so that influenza, rhinovirus (common cold), and other circulating viral illnesses have decreased, off-setting some of the increased mortality due to COVID. RSV is primarily a disease of children which makes it difficult for them to breathe and doesn’t have a vaccine yet. There are approximately 300 deaths in children in the U.S. each year from it.

Weekly Medical Briefsl 09-29-22

Weekly Medical Briefs

September 29, 2022

Multiple Shots in One Arm?
Picking whether to give both shots in the same arm or separate arms seems to be a matter of debate and speculation rather than hard science when giving more than one vaccine at the same time. Some, including the White House, advocate giving both shots in one arm spaced at least one inch apart while others advocate using different arms for each.
Many pediatricians, who often have to administer four or five shots to a baby at once, are habitual splitters. “If there’s more than one vaccine syringe to give to a baby, generally, two legs are used,” “If there’s a local reaction to the vaccine, you can identify which vaccine it was if you separate them by space.” (The author of the article had a more painful reaction in her left arm, where she received the COVID shot. Others have reported the same disparity.)

The Atlantic

Weekly Medical Briefs: 09-22-22

Weekly Medical Briefs

September 22, 2022

U.S. Embarks on Latest COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign as New Bivalent Boosters Roll Out
“With a jumble of confusion, eagerness and vaccine fatigue, America embarked in earnest last week on a sprawling new campaign to get Omicron-specific boosters into the arms of a pandemic-weary country.” Millions of doses of bivalent boosters “arrived with little ceremony at pharmacies, nursing homes and clinics across the country, ready to be administered in what health officials now expect to become a yearly inoculation ritual akin to a flu shot.” Early data “from states and several cities showed what health officials described as a robust early response in a moment when vaccine rates have stagnated.”

The New York Times 9/18

COVID-19 Linked to Increased Alzheimer’s Risk
COVID-19 has been linked to a significantly increased risk for new-onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD) a new study suggests.
The study of more than 6 million people aged 65 years or older found a 50% – 80% risk for AD in the year after COVID-19. The risk was especially high for women older than 85 years.
However, the investigators were quick to point out that the observational retrospective study offers no evidence that COVID-19 causes AD. There could be a viral etiology at play, or the connection could be related to inflammation in neural tissue from the SARS-CoV-2 infection. Or it could simply be that exposure to the healthcare system for COVID increased the odds of detection of existing undiagnosed AD.

Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 9/13

Column by Dr. Richard Sternberg

Polio, Part II

Three weeks ago, this column covered the topic of polio, its cause, symptoms, complications, treatment, and prevention. Polio continues to be in the news, especially in New York, because there are indications that it is spreading geographically. Polio virus has been found in wastewater in Nassau County, Long Island.

Last Friday, Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency because of the increasing number of positive tests and the apparent spread outward from the initial location. The order is to better enable health care providers to fight the disease and prevent further outbreaks of paralysis.

Among other things it will require providers to send vaccination data to the state Department of Health to better track the total numbers around the state in order to direct the greatest efforts in those areas. The order also allows expanded authorization of who can administer the vaccine. During the emergency, midwives, pharmacists, and other licensed paraprofessionals can vaccinate.

STERNBERG: New COVID Vaccine Offers Broader Protection
Column by Dr. Richard Sternberg

New COVID Vaccine
Offers Broader Protection

On Wednesday August 31 the FDA authorized, for emergency use, two new, bivalent, COVID vaccines. Bivalent means that each shot contains two variants of the vaccine. The following day the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommended the use of those vaccines and the same day, CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., endorsed the committee’s recommendations for use of updated COVID-19 boosters from Pfizer-BioNTech for people ages 12 years and older, and from Moderna for people ages 18 years and older. Updated COVID-19 boosters add Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 spike protein components to the current vaccine composition, helping to restore protection that has waned since previous vaccination by targeting variants that are more transmissible and able to avoid immune responses.

Currently about 89% of circulating virus in the United States is Omicron BA.5 and almost all the rest is BA.4 and BA.4.6. Both vaccines are RNA types, that is it gets the body’s cells to manufacture antibodies to the COVID virus spike protein but do not affect the body’s cell’s DNA. The virus itself does not make up these vaccines unlike the case with polio, which is either dead virus or live-attenuated virus (see this column’s article of September 24.)

Weekly Medical News: 09-08-22

Weekly Medical News

September 8, 2022


The CDC reminds us that, a Newsroutine annual influenza vaccination is recommended for all persons aged 6 months and older who do not have contraindications. For each recipient, a licensed and age-appropriate vaccine should be used. With the exception of vaccination for adults aged 65 years and older, Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) makes no preferential recommendation for a specific vaccine when more than one licensed, recommended, and age-appropriate vaccine is available. All seasonal influenza vaccines expected to be available in the United States for the 2022–23 season are quadrivalent, that is contain vaccine for four different strains of flu. COVID and flu vaccines can be delivered concurrently

—Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of the CDC

Sternberg: New COVID Recommendations from CDC
Column by Dr. Richard Sternberg

New COVID Recommendations from CDC

Vaccines and infection induced immunity and the availability of effective treatment and prevention methods have decreased the risk of symptomatic COVID infection, hospitalizations, and deaths. Therefore, On August 11 the Center for Disease Control issued a new set of guidelines for minimizing the impact of COVID on people, communities, and health care providers. This takes into account the psychological and economic effects of the various actions. It allows considerably more freedom than the previous guidelines.

Below is a summarization of the recommendations but I strongly recommend reviewing the original article in MMWR, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Review, which is published weekly by the CDC, online. The August 11, 2020 edition has the article. You can go to to find it. The article besides containing the information in more detail contains a table that lists actions to minimize impact based on effects on different persons, communities, and health care system and a figure which lists recommendation for isolation, masking, testing, and other precautions for people who are ill with COVID symptoms and/or have tested positive. I think the figure and article may be easier to understand then in narrative form.

STERNBERG: Monkeypox Vaccines

Column by Dr. Richard Sternberg

Monkeypox Vaccines

There are several things to remember about the current monkeypox outbreak for those of us in Otsego County.

According to the county health department website on Monday, there are no cases identified locally. Vaccine for monkeypox is not available locally. After checking the New York State Department of Health website ( it appears that the closest location for vaccine is Albany County. I would suggest if you qualify for the vaccine and want to receive it, you or your health care provider can contact the Albany County Department of Health or the state. You can find criteria for eligibility at

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.

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