With the state’s COVID numbers at their lowest since November 29, Governor Andrew Cuomo has extended closing times for bars, restaurants, gyms and fitness centers to 11pm.
Monday, the state reported a positivity rate of 3.53 percent—the 38th consecutive day of COVID declines.
In the Mohawk Valley, the seven-day average of positive test results was 2.23 percent.
In Schoharie County, there have been a total of 1,121 confirmed cases, 15 of them new since Saturday.
The county has also reported its 11th COVID death.
“Thanks to New Yorkers’ actions—like wearing masks, maintaining distance, and making smart decisions—hospitalizations and the positivity rate continue to head down,” Governor Cuomo said.
The supply of COVID vaccines continues to be sporadic and unpredictable locally and across the state; Walgreen’s has begun scheduling appointments for those 65 and older and people with underlying health conditions like high blood pressure and obesity were eligible to begin getting the vaccines—if they can find them Monday.
More than a million New Yorkers have now received two doses of a COVID vaccine, Governor Cuomo said—but more than 10 million are now eligible.
The federal government has increased the vaccine supply by 20 percent over the next few weeks, but demand still far exceeds supply.
Schoharie County clinic notification
While it’s not a way to sign up for a vaccine, the county has established a hotline for those without computer access that lets them sign up to be notified as clinics become available, (518) 295-8390.
Online registration—again to be notified when clinics will be held—not to sign up for a spot—is available at https://www2.schohariecounty-ny.gov/PublicWebSiteApp/faces/CovidSignup/entry.xhtml
Sports & the arts
Wednesday, the state said sports and entertainment events can reopen beginning February 23 with limited spectators,
Capacity will be limited to 10 percent, negative COVID-tests will be required, and face coverings, and assigned social-distanced seating, and temperature checks will be required.
It was last Monday that Governor Cuomo launched NY PopsUp, an informal festival that will feature hundreds of pop-up performances, many free and all open to the public.
NY PopsUp will serve as a “pilot program,” for how to bring live performance back safely.
It will launch on Saturday, February 20 and run through Labor Day with more than 1,000 performances.
All events will follow COVID-19 guidelines and many will be held outside.
“Cities have taken a real blow during COVID, and the economy will not come back fast enough on its own - we must bring it back," Governor Cuomo said. “…our arts and cultural industries have been shut down all across the country, taking a terrible toll on workers and the economy.
“We want to be aggressive with reopening the state and getting our economy back on track, and NY PopsUp will be an important bridge to the broader reopening of our world-class performance venues and institutions. New York has been a leader throughout this entire pandemic, and we will lead once again with bringing back the arts.’
The hundreds of free, pop-up events that constitute NY PopsUp will make stages out of New York’s existing landscapes; instead of an audience of thousands, they’ll be held before small groups and broadcast online afterwards.
As COVID restrictions begin to loosen, the model that NY PopsUp builds for holding safe live events will pave the way for the reopening of multidisciplinary flexible indoor venues—“Flex Venues”--throughout the state.
The Flex Venues are established performance spaces without fixed seating and so able to be adapted for social distancing. Examples include Glimmerglass Festival's Alice Busch Opera Theater in Cooperstown.
Schools are on February break, but most are resuming high-risk sports like basketball and wrestling as soon as Saturday; athletes have already begun practicing. (See related stories.)
Last Tuesday, Cobleskill-Richmondville reported an individual associated with its bus garage has tested positive, placing groups at both Ryder and the High School into mandatory quarantines.
If the numbers worsen, the district may again have to shift to remote learning.
The latest numbers school numbers on the state’s COVID tracker website, most of them for February 10-12 are: Cobleskill-Richmondville, 47; Schoharie, 19; Middleburgh, 9 (February 3), Sharon, 7; Gilboa-Conesville, 5; Jefferson, 8.
Schoharie Central School said Friday that beginning March 1, it will end its hybrid model for high schoolers, with all in-person students moving to attending school five days a week.
For those who’ve chosen the all-remote option, nothing will change.
According to Superintendent Dave Blanchard, the change will mean an additional 70 students a day in the building; the recently completed renovation project as well as underutilized space in the elementary wing will mean the students can be safely accommodated, he said.
The return to five-day in-person learning has been SCS’s goal since the fall, Mr. Blanchard said, and he’s confident it can be done safely.