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Health officials worry isolation protocol not being followed

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Taking effect last night was Governor Cuomo’s newest emergency executive order that now brings New York State to a near-halt, shutting down all nonessential business and requiring residents to stay home except for food, emergencies and periods of solitary exercise.

(click here for more information about Governor Cuomo’s “Stay Home” order)

Cortland County confirmed its first two cases on Saturday (March 21), which were unrelated and found in a child under five-years-old and a person in their 50’s.

Twelve others remain in self-quarantine, none of whom are showing symptoms, but county health officials after initial investigations have found some are not following the isolation guidance of their physicians, posing a heightened risk for others.

“We want to reinforce the importance of social distancing for everyone, stay home if you can. If you must go out, stay at least 6 feet away from others,” said Public Health Director Catherine Feuerherm. “We need everyone’s help to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Exposing others in the community is socially irresponsible.”

According to experts, the virus that causes COVID-19 is spread primarily by respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza spreads.

It can also spread when people touch contaminated surfaces and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth.

Staying home in accordance with the state mandate will not only reduce an individual’s chance of getting sick, it will also help reduce congestion at local hospitals and allow them a better chance to keep up with community demand.

Anyone suspicious of having COVID-19 should contact the health care provider immediately and follow their guidance to limit contact with others. Officials urge that quarantines should be taken very seriously.

Those in isolation shouldn’t be doing things like bringing children to the babysitter, shopping or visiting with anyone.

In addition to a State of Emergency declared by Governor Cuomo, the federal government also approved a Major Disaster Declaration that now ensures FEMA has full resources and authority to address the outbreak in New York.

It also waived all standardized testing mandates for schools this year and suspended interest on federal student loans.

Additionally, the IRS has delayed Tax Day by three months which will now take place July 15.

The current health crisis has even prompted the Bishop of Syracuse to dispense all practicing Catholics from the law of abstinence on Fridays for the remainder of Lent to help those who may be struggling with food shopping.

The United Way for Cortland County has launched a special food insecurity fund, with 100% of money raised being distributed to food pantries across the community struggling to respond to an increased demand from local families.

To support the rapidly escalating need, go to the above link and click the GIVE HELP NOW button.

For those who need food or services of any kind, simply dial 2-1-1 or go to

At this point, Cortland’s First Transit service continues to operate its fixed routes (1-7) until further notice, with more information on schedules available here or also by contacting 211.

Cortland County has also established its own phone bank to supplement 211 and answer questions about COVID-19, including county services and other information that may be needed.

The number is 607- 756-3415 and will be answered from 8:30 am to 4 pm daily.

NYSDOH also has a hotline and a website for members of the public who have questions:

Hotline: 1-888-364-3065

Website: Click here

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