Tioga County COVID-19 Press Conference 5/6/20

Megan Griffis, Agricultural Specialist for NY State, speaks at the Tioga County Legislature press conference.

On May 6, Tioga County Legislature Chair Martha Sauerbrey held her second press conference on the coronavirus. 

Sauerbrey started by thanking the residents of Tioga County for helping each other through this strange time. The statistics for that day were 107 confirmed cases, 85 in mandatory quarantine, 14 deaths and 34 recovered; she went on to state that two-thirds of the cases of the virus are tied to the Elderwood Nursing Home in Waverly.

Tioga County Public Health’s Kylie Holochak reported on Monday May 4, the first resident to be confirmed with the virus recovered at Elderwood. Holochak went on to urge residents to wash their hands, wipe down frequently used items at home, social distancing, self-isolation if you are feeling sick, and wearing a mask when going out in public. 

The conversation turned to a possible re-opening of the district on May 15, but one more requirement is needed. Holochak said, “About 35 more need to be tested, and residents must pre-register to get tested.” 

Where can Tioga County residents get tested for the COVID-19: Binghamton University at 4400 Vestal Parkway East (in front of the Events Center) from Monday to Sunday 8:00 a.m. to 6:00p.m. Also, you can be tested at the Ithaca Mall, which is located at 40 Catherwood Road in Ithaca (through Cayuga Medical Center). The testing center’s days and hours are Monday through Friday 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. 

To pre-register for Binghamton University, call 888-364-3065 or go to coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-testing. To pre-register for Ithaca Mall, call 607-319-5708 or go to cayugahealthsystem.org.

Testing is available if an individual is symptomatic or has a history of symptoms of COVID-19; an individual who had had close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus; an individual who is subject to mandatory or precautionary quarantine; or an individual who is employed as a health care worker, first responder, or other essential workers interacting with the public while working.

Holochak went on to stress the importance of social distancing, keeping six feet between oneself and the next person, and wearing a mask as the weather improves and more people want to be outside. 

Megan Griffis, Agricultural Specialist for the NY State, was on hand to talk about the dairy give away recently held at the Tioga County Fairgrounds in Owego. The Tioga Farm Bureau, Tioga County Agricultural Resource Group and Tioga County Soil and Water Conservation District were able to give away two gallons of milk and one bag of sour cream and yogurt to 850 families. In total, 3,888 gallons of milk, and about 1,500 yogurts and sour cream were distributed. Also, about 240 gallons of milk were donated to local food banks.

Griffis went on to talk about NY State Ag working with local farmers as the district re-opens.

Leann Tinney of Tioga County Economic Development and Planning said, “We are working to transition from surviving to thriving, but work place changes may have to stay in place for quite some time.” The NY Forward Moving Board has been formed and is working on coming up with an outline and framework for re-opening the district. 

The re-opening process outlined by the Governor will go in four phases. Phase one, which is being planned for May 15, will allow the re-opening of construction, manufacturing, whole sale supply and selective retail with curb side pick-up only. Businesses will have to submit a plan for re-opening to Economic Development and Planning first.

Phase two will be professional services, finance and insurance, retail, administrative support, real estate and rental housing.

Phase three will be restaurants and food services, hotels and accommodations. Phase four will be arts, entertainment and recreation and education. Phases two, three and four have no definitive dates. The numbers will keep being monitored and a spike in numbers could change plans. 

Sauerbrey suggested all businesses not only get to work on cleaning, disinfecting, separating employees and putting together a re-opening plan but they should also continue social distancing and masking. 

When the conference was opened for questions, the subject of the impact of Tioga Downs being closed has had on Tioga County was mentioned. Sauerbrey talked about the loss being felt by the county. “Will they open this summer, we do not know yet,” she said. “There has been talk of the races going on without an audience but nothing has been decided for sure.”

According to Sauerbrey, the 14 deaths so far are connected to Elderwood. (A 15th death was reported on May 7, but it is unknown whether or not that death is connected to Elderwood.) However, the nursing homes in Owego, Riverview Manor have no cases thus far.

When questioned about the 2020 Census, Sauerbrey said 57 percent have done self-response, but there is a delay in helpers going door-to-door as may happen later until it is considered advisable.

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