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Today's Top Stories - Friday May 22nd, 2020

County Manager Jack Wheeler reports the number of COVID-19 cases in Steuben County have stabilized but wants to emphasize the rate of recovery and negative findings. At its peak, Wheeler said Steuben County reported a dozen new cases daily.

Investigators say the cause of a Wheeler fire that occured Wednesday evening was accidental. The two-alarm blaze originated with a faulty bathroom ceiling fan at the Bates Road home. Bath and six other departments controlled the fire in 33 minutes.

A new survey finds substance abuse by teenagers in Steuben County has increased. The recent Steuben Prevention Coalition study shows a pattern of increased use of illegal drugs among students in the 8th and 10th grades with an alarming increase in alcohol abuse, consumption of highly caffeinated energy drinks and e-cigarettes. Seniors and sophomores in high school reported less use of alcohol, marijuana and opioids. However, binge drinking for both seniors and sophomores throughout the entire Steuben school system is higher than the national average. 

For this Memorial Day weekend, the Bath VA is introducing a new, online memorial feature to honor veterans. The online feature is an effort to allow the public to pay tribute to veterans in VA National Cemeteries across the entire nation while abiding by CDC Social Distancing Guidelines. Bath, along with each VA National Cemetery, will hold a short wreath-laying ceremony which will be accompanied by the playing of "Taps" and observation of a moment of silence but will not by open to the public to keep with guidelines limiting large gatherings. 

New York State Troopers begin increasing patrols today in the annual STOP-DWI effort to combat drunk, impaired and reckless driving throughout this Memorial Day weekend continuing to Tuesday, May 26th. Drivers should anticipate sobriety checkpoints and increased patrols during the holiday weekend while State Police vehicles and Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement (CITE) vehicles will be out as part of the Memorial Day weekend crackdown. 

New York State has extended its sales tax remittance grace period to June 22nd. Governor Cuomo says the move was an effort to give a break to New York small businesses that have been hurt by the coronavirus epidemic. Cuomo commented that "cashflow remains the most pressing immediate challenge for small businesses that have been forced to close or otherwise seeing their operations and sales dramatically impacted by COVID-19."

The New York State Department of Labor reports the state unemployment rate in April reached 14.5 percent. A loss of 20 percent in the private sector was reported while in just a single month unemployment spiked by over 10 percent. 

New York State lawmakers have introduced a bill that would allow "take out drinks" to be sold by bars and restaurants. Senator Hoylman proposed restaurants and bars to be allowed to keep offering beer, wine and cocktails for take-out and delivery until two years after the COVID-19 emergency was declared. The bill aims to help businesses in the industry devastated by the pandemic. The Senator calls allowing such alcohol sales will be "giving these establishments a much-needed lifeline while New York slowly returns to normal." 

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