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Today's Top Stories - Friday April 3rd, 2020

The first COVID-19 related death in Steuben County was reported yesterday by the County Department of Health. The late patient was an 89-year-old female from Bath who pased away while in hospitalization. Steuben Public Health Director Darlene Smith reminds county residents that it is crucial to stay home during this pandemic to prevent spreading this potentially fatal virus. 

State lawmakers have approved the 2020-2021 New York State budget that includes over 40 new policy initiatives. The budget modifies the Criminal Justice Reform Law with the addition of several offenses to now be bail-eligible such as sex trafficking offenses, money laundering in support of terrorism, child porn offenses, repeat offending criminials and those commiting crimes resulting in death. The budget also includes establishing paid sick leave for working New Yorkers and authorizes law enforcement to remove firearms from the scene of a domestic violence incident while also establishing a domestic violence misdemeanor to ensure abusers lose acccess to firearms immediately upon conviction. A permanent hydrofracking ban in the Empire State was also included. State Senator Tom O'Mara voted against the budget, accusing the budget of being the product of downstate Democratic control. 

The New York State Department of Labor reports over 369,000 initial Unemployment Insurance claims were filed for the week ending on March 28th with an increase in claims by 2,674%. Industries in New York with the most percentage increase in initial claims include Accomodation and Food Services, Arts, Entertainment and Recreation, Healthcare and Social Assistance and Education. 

The VA System pharmacy telephone representatives report a significant rise in call volume during the COVID-19 pandemic which includes our local Bath VA. Callers will have their call answered and their needs will be communicated to the local outpatient pharmacy department. It may take more than a few more minutes for your call to be answered during the morning when call volume is high. The VA Pharmacy staff says you can either stay on the line or retry in the afternoon during lower call volume times. 

In a press release, Democratic candidate Tracy Mitrano emphasized the importance of making sure working class Americans are not left footing the bill of the COVID-19 stimulus relief package in the future. The Democratic candidate from Penn Yan asked "How are we managing the crisis at hand and working towards making sure Americans are not left holding the bag when it is over is most definitely an appropriate conversation to have now." Mitrano said it is important to hold institutions borrowing funds that fail to comply with requirements of the new stimulus bill accountable and also suggested it is time to bring back a reasonable 1% progressive tax policy.

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