O’Mara Criticizes Closed-Door Meetings on Nursing Home Deaths
State Senator Tom O’Mara expressed criticism at a closed-door meeting between the top Cuomo administration officials and key legislative Democrats discussing New York’s ongoing nursing homes scandal. Governor Cuomo called a meeting between members of his inner circle and key legislative Democrats that included the heads of the Senate and Assembly committees on Aging, Health, and Investigations and Government Operations to discuss the nursing homes tragedy behind closed doors. O’Mara says all state officials must be on the same page and: “Top legislative Democrats going behind closed doors with the Cuomo administration to discuss the nursing homes scandal is another stonewalling session that has nothing to do with revealing the truth, only with continuing to hide it.” O’Mara called on Democrats to demand testimony and full records from Governor Cuomo and his inner circle, under subpoena and in public.
Steuben Health Dept. Reports 17 New COVID Cases
The Steuben County Public Health Department received notification that 17 Steuben County residents tested positive for COVID-19. This brings the total to 5,344 confirmed cases, 216 of which are currently active. Public Health Director Darlene Smith says…the significant decrease in COVID spread in Steuben has been welcomed.
Sports Arenas and Stadiums Reopen in Limited Capacity Feb 23rd
Beginning later this month, New York’s major sports arenas and stadiums can host a limited number of fans for sporting events and concerts as announced by Governor Cuomo yesterday as he outlined some of the guidelines. According to Cuomo, the decision to move forward in opening arenas was thanks to the success of the model designed by the state for the Buffalo Bills playoff games. Limited fan attendance starts on Tuesday, February 23rd.
Department of Health Releases More Data on COVID Deaths
Yesterday the state Department of Health and Cuomo Administration released additional data on COVID-19 deaths in long-term care facilities requested by the Empire Center under FOIL six months after the request was submitted, five months after the Empire Center and the Government Justice Center filed suit, and one week after a court found that the department had violated FOIL and ordered it to release what were clearly public records. The Empire Center says records do not fully account for the deaths of some 600 residents that occurred outside of the long-term care facilities, usually in hospitals, in which the COVID-19 diagnosis was presumed rather than confirmed with the department providing a summary of those deaths, but not their dates. The Empire Center also said the State Health Department provided the data in a password-protection spreadsheet after they had specifically requested otherwise, violating the Freedom of Information Law. The Empire Center said: “ Those revelations increased the known death toll from about 9,000 to almost 15,000—making clear that the pandemic’s toll on long-term care residents was much worse than the Cuomo administration previously portrayed it to be.
Click here to check out the data.
Arnot, CVS and Walgreens to Offer COVID Vaccine
Pharmacies and hospitals will continue the fight against COVID-19 by offering vaccines. Arnot Health says they have not yet received this week’s Moderna vaccine, with the regular 1,000 doses per week not meeting the public’s demand. Arnot Health will promote their vaccine clinics at Arnot Mall. CVS and Walgreens begin offering vaccines in New York state this week. Not all locations in the state will offer the vaccine. Both CVS and Walgreens will have a limited supply to vaccinate people when they happen to have a supply on any given day or week. Starting tomorrow, vaccinations will be available at select locations. Walk-in's are not allowed and everyone must register to make an appointment on the CVS app, CVS.com or at Walgreens.com/ScheduleVaccine.
More COVID Testing May Mean Declined Southern Tier Positivity Rate
An uptick in coronavirus testing among SUNY students cold make the positivity rate in the Southern Tier decline with SUNY Broome expected to see an increase in testing as students move back on campus for the upcoming spring semester. Broome County’s Health Department says as long as students test negative like they did in the fall semester, the rate will decline. Students are urged to avoid large gatherings. The Southern Tier still has the lowest infection rate in the state, regionally.
High-Risk Sport Student Athletes May Have Sectional Tournament
Student athletes in high-risk sports will have a chance to compete for a sectional tournament title. In a year marked by changes and adjustments amid COVID-19, the Section V Athletic Council says high-risk sports like boys and girls basketball will have closed sectional tournaments this year. The top eight teams from each classification will make their respective sectionals. Meanwhile, class sectional tournaments for wrestling will start on March 12. Section V also announced Wednesday start dates for the Fall II season and the Spring season. Fall II includes boys and girls volleyball, cheerleading, and football. The season will start on March 1, with the regular season set to end April 23, and Sectionals wrapped by May 2. Spring sports, including boys and girls lacrosse, baseball, softball and track and field, will start April 19. Indoor track and field will be hosting a sectional tournament on March 4.
Bath Man Arrested and Charged with Rape
The Village of Bath Police Department reports the arrest of 33-year-old Mackenzie Ellis of Campbell St., in the Village of Bath He was charged with with Rape in the First Degree, by forcible compulsion. Police Chief Chad Mullen tells us Ellis was arraigned in the Steuben County Centralized Court and remanded to the Steuben County Jail with bail set at $10,000 cash or $20,000 bond.
O’Mara Warns Cuomo Budget Risks Millions in State Program Funds
State Senator Tom O’Mara yesterday warned that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed state budget puts at risk millions of dollars in state funding for long-standing and critical programs supporting farmers and New York’s agricultural industry. O’Mara said, “Governor Cuomo’s proposed budget does not protect critical state funding for specifically vital agricultural programs and services that have long made a difference for our farmers. Putting the fate of this funding and these successful programs in the hands of Democratic majorities in the Senate and Assembly makes no sense in a year like this one when farmers are already overburdened yet have been fundamental to the hard work that has kept communities together and moving forward. O’Mara added…It’s unthinkable, to say the least during this pandemic.