Governor Cuomo released more details yesterday on a phased plan to reopen the state by economic region, while also naming the official appointees to a special advisory board charged with overseeing the process.
One of those dubbed to serve is Tompkins Cortland Community College President Dr. Orinthia Montague.
“This is a crucial time for our college and our state. As we prepare for the next phase of our response to this pandemic, I’m honored to represent the College and our community as part of the Governor’s advisory board,” said Montague. “This pandemic has hit us all hard, but it’s time to work on moving forward. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to be part of that discussion.”
Montague is one of just eight college and university presidents ask to serve on the special council, which also includes Cornell University President Martha Pollack and more than 100 business, community and civic leaders from across New York State. (full list of appointees here)
The advisory board is chaired by former Secretaries to the Governor Steve Cohen and Bill Mulrow.
Gov. Cuomo also detailed a list of 12 guidelines that each economic region must comply with to begin reopening their economies, which can only happen once their COVID-related hospitalization rates decline for 14 days.
“We’ve come up with a phased plan to re-open New York so every region in the state has the same opening template as we begin this process,” Governor Cuomo said. “We have to be smart about this – emotions can’t drive our re-opening process – and we’ve come up with factual data points that each region must monitor as they begin to re-open.”
Testing has been essential in maintaining at least some sort of control during the widespread pandemic – and the good news is that it’s getting a lot easier to do.
Last week, it was announced the state’s roughly 5,000 pharmacies are now permitted to conduct their own COVID-19 testing, in light of a recent increase in supply availability and lab capacity.
Criteria has also been expanded to ensure all first responders, frontline health care professionals and essential workers are entitled to a screening.
Elective outpatient procedures have already resumed at Guthrie Cortland Medical Center, after a directive last week by Cuomo allowing hospitals to do so once their counties saw hospitalizations drop for 14 days.
Patients must also test negative for the virus before undergoing any procedure.
“Please, don’t put off your needs any longer out of fear you might contract this virus,” said Guthrie Regional Medical Director Dr. David Ristedt. “Measures are in place where it’s just as safe to get your health care services as going to the local grocery store to buy food.”
Officials at Cayuga Health said yesterday their facilities also now meet these requirements.
Beginning next week, non-emergency surgeries will resume at both Cayuga Medical Centers in Ithaca and Schuyler.
“Per the Governor’s announcement last week, our team is preparing, and getting ready. Safety is our first priority on meeting the needs of our elective surgery patients,” said Cayuga Health President/CEO Dr. Martin Stallone. “Cayuga Health. “We are ready and able to resume elective surgery with an adequate supply of PPE, all infection control measures will be followed, and safety monitoring is already in place to make sure our patients are safe.”
Both Guthrie Cortland and Cayuga Medical Center both are also running their own drive-thru testing centers.
Cortland County’s numbers are currently the lowest in CNY and much of the state, with yesterday the 12th straight day without a new case reported by the health department.
Tompkins County has reported 130 positives to-date.