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Tompkins County OK’d for elective surgeries; Cortland is not

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Governor Cuomo yesterday approved 35 counties to resume elective procedures in their hospitals, following last week’s executive order permitting so to be done in parts of the state with relatively low COVID-19 risk.

Cortland County was not included on that list, despite reporting the lowest numbers in Central New York.

Yesterday was day 13 without a new case locally, remaining at 32 to-date and just one person still sick who remains in the hospital.

The governor’s executive order directs hospitals may only resume elective procedures under these conditions:

  • Once their capacity is over 25 percent for the county
  • If there have been fewer than 10 new COVID hospitalizations over the past 10 days

Just six COVID hospitalizations to-date is likely not what still prevents the County from being able to resume elective procedures.

The issue may relate to a requirement that facilities have a certain amount of beds reserved for a potential future surge in cases.

According to the executive order, hospitals must also prove that if they resume elective surgeries, they could still reserve at least 30% of their regular beds and another 30% of their ICU beds, in case of a sudden local surge in cases.

County health officials had no further details about failing to make the list.

WXHC reached out to Guthrie officials seeking clarification for those seeking services at Guthrie Cortland Medical Center – the lone hospital in the county – and received the following statement:


“Like many healthcare systems in our region, Guthrie has been spared the surge of COVID-19 patients
which have overwhelmed many metropolitan healthcare providers,” stated Dr. Larry Sampson, interim Chair of Surgery for The Guthrie Clinic. “This leaves us with capacity to expand the number of surgeries we can now support in accordance with the recent guidance provided by the State of New York.  We are currently evaluating patient needs, the surgery backlog and the surgery types that could be reinstated following guidance from the Department of Health. We will begin planning to eventually restore the full surgery schedule and provide our patients the spectrum of care they need.”


The statement doesn’t confirm whether or not capacity prevented the County from being approved.

Counties that did make the list included dozens that surround Cortland and have much higher case rates, yet much larger hospital capacities. Tompkins, Broome and Onondaga Counties are among those that have been authorized.

Officials at Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca say they’ll resume elective procedures next week.

WXHC has made additional inquiries in hopes of finding out more in the coming days.


See more below from Governor Cuomo’s full remarks on Wednesday:

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