(Last update – 2:32 pm)
Gatherings of more than 50 people are now officially banned statewide beginning at 8:00 tonight, at which point restaurants and bars across New York are also directed to reduce services to take-out and delivery only until further notice.
Movie theaters, gyms and casinos will also be closed down temporarily.
Governor Cuomo says establishments that serve alcohol will be provided a carry-out waiver, although exact details were not drawn out.
New York joins its Tri-State partners in Connecticut and New Jersey taking these extreme measures, announced by the governors of each during a conference call this morning which can be heard here.
The newest protocol is the latest approach to a concept known as ‘social distancing,’ which the governor says will help slow the spread of COVID-19.
That idea was the central premise behind this morning’s press conference held by city of Cortland officials, including Mayor Brian Tobin:
“As we enter into unusual territory, I ask that we all remember our priorities: Let’s take care of our people first,” Tobin said. “Something that we’re going to demonstrate today is social distancing. We’re going to try and keep a distance of six feet apart at all times…This is going to be the new norm for the next several weeks, or potentially longer.”
Over the weekend, Cortland and Tompkins Counties joined more than 30 others across the state that have issued emergency declarations. Governor Cuomo also announced a SOE for the entire state when the virus first hit NYC earlier this month.
All Cortland and Tompkins County school districts will close down this week and move to distance learning until at least Monday, April 13th, with those in Tompkins County shutting down immediately after a positive case was confirmed on Saturday (March 14).
Schools in Cortland County will close Wednesday unless a positive diagnosis is confirmed before then, which would then shut them down immediately.
Teachers and administrators are now working collaboratively across districts to develop a way to provide remote learning materials and curriculum that’s equally accessible by all students regardless of socioeconomic factors.
Both TC3 and SUNY Cortland are on extended spring breaks until they return to a distance learning format on March 30.
Daycare providers have been directed to prioritize childcare for essential employees and first responders only.
All Cortland County senior centers will also be closed effective Tuesday, with Meals on Wheels services continuing on modified delivery schedules.
Access to other county facilities has been limited as well.
Additionally, both public & private sector workers have been asked to contact their employers and determine if they’re presence is essential.
To ensure those affected don’t lose power or heat due to financial difficulties that may arise by restrictions put in place, Governor Cuomo directed the Department of Public Service to require each of the state’s major water, electric and gas utilities to suspend service shutoffs and other collections-related activities.
Health insurers have also been told to waive cost-sharing for novel coronavirus testing.
Travel has so far not been restricted in the area, but residents have been encouraged to limit social contact as much as possible.
Meanwhile, Courthouses across Cortland County will close and delay proceedings indefinitely, with the exception of the County Court.
The Village of Homer and Town of Cortlandville have also closed their town halls to the public until further notice.
Sheriff Mark Helms closed the county jail to visitors and suspended all outside services to inmates, a decision that was made in Tompkins and Cayuga Counties as well.
Meanwhile, both Guthrie Cortland and Cayuga Medical Centers are now fully restricted, meaning all patients, visitors, and employees will be screened upon entering and only one visitor will be allowed per inpatient.
TCAT has also employed a reduction in service effective Sunday (March 22) and running through the rest of the winter-spring service period ending Saturday, May 23.
No public transit changes have been announced in Cortland County.
The Cortland County Legislature has been forced to moved its monthly session scheduled for next Thursday up to a special closed meeting tomorrow night (March 17), which came under direction from Governor Cuomo for all local government meetings.
New York State now has more than 600 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus, with the first two deaths reported in the downstate region over the weekend: A 64-year-old Rockland County man and 82-year-old woman from New York City.
Currently, more than 30 NY counties are currently under a State of Emergency.
Stay tuned with WXHC News as the situation develops and click here for more community bulletin board updates.