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April 11, 2020 - 11:30am

An additional three detainees at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia have tested positive for COVID-19.

That brings the number of detainees who have tested positive at the facility to seven.

The Batavian reported on the first four cases on Friday. In the original story, we said detainees who tested positive were not included in the countywide count based on information obtained from the Health Department. The Health Department has since corrected that previous statement and said detainees, as well as COVID patients at other federal and state facilities in the county, are included in the county's numbers.

As of this morning, the County is reporting 70 positive cases locally, and 49 active cases, 20 recoveries, and one death. It's not known at this time if the three new ICE cases are yet included in the county's count.

We've requested from an ICE spokesman more information about the three new cases.

So far, ICE has not reported any employees at the facility as positive.

UPDATE 12:46 p.m.:  More information from ICE:

  • Two 21-year-old Salvadorian nationals, and a 35-year-old Dominican national in ICE custody at Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia, New York, tested positive for COVID-19.

Consistent with CDC guidelines, those who have come in contact with these individuals have been cohorted and are being monitored for symptoms.

April 10, 2020 - 10:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in coronavirus, news, batavia, O-AT-KA Milk Products, covid-19, notify.

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Employees, and their family members, of O-AT-KA Milk Products have been expressing concern this week about how the company has responded to the outbreak of COVID-19 in our community.

In emails to The Batavian and in social media posts, both employees and family members have accused the company of making employees work even though they might have been exposed to a person who tested positive for the coronavirus.

In the past week, Genesee County has gone from 17 confirmed cases to 70 people who have tested positive for COVID-19. In that same period, surrounding rural counties have not seen a similar spike.

It's unclear how much of the more than 400-percent increase in positive cases are connected with O-AT-KA but sources have indicated as many as 20 people who work at the facility have tested positive.

O-AT-KA CEO William Schreiber declined today to answer a question about how many employees have been infected.

At the beginning of the week, the Health Department reported the first sharp increase in cases -- 10 new cases -- and the department press release said many of the cases, including a big jump in mandatory quarantines, could be attributed to one employee going to work while symptomatic.

At that time, Public Health Director Paul Pettit said, "A significant increase in the number of mandatory quarantines being reported today is due to a symptomatic person going to work at a local business."

Pettit declined to name the company then nor discuss now specific complaints from employees about O-AT-KA.

Since Monday, the Health Department has indicated that several of the people who were on mandatory quarantine as of Monday have since tested positive.

Two sources said there were two confirmed COVID-19 cases at O-AT-KA on Monday.

The specific complaints sent to The Batavian about O-AT-KA:

  • Employees with direct contact with infected coworkers have been told to report to work until they develop a fever;
  • Employees with a fever are required to produce a doctor's note for an approved absence from work;
  • Employees are told to wear masks but masks are not issued to employees;
  • Employees are encouraged to remain six feet apart but some job duties, such as training new coworkers, make that impossible.

One of the features of the virus SARS-CoV-2 is that people can be infectious before becoming symptomatic, and perhaps remain asymptomatic, and a fever is not necessarily the first symptom of illness.

During a phone call today, we asked Schreiber repeatedly to respond to these specific allegations and he declined.

He did read a prepared statement:

We have taken every precaution to protect our employees. We have followed the guidelines of every regulatory agency involved since the start of the pandemic and most importantly, as part of our response, our leadership team has worked to ensure our employees are safe and that they have the tools and resources needed to be successful.

O-AT-KA is not the only local company under scrutiny from employees. The Batavian has received emails about two other local employers, deemed essential businesses by the State of New York, that say their bosses are not taking coronavirus precautions seriously. 

One employee, who said the employees' complaints have gone to the Attorney General's Office, was specific about lack of sanitizer, personal protection gear, and inattention to social distancing.

The employee said, "With the number of people that come to work at this plant from outside counties and cities, it is only a matter of time before someone infected comes to work and it will spread like wildfire. We should be closed right now. We should be home, safe with our families until our government deems it that we are safe to go back to work."

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April 10, 2020 - 11:16am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, covid-19, strong memorial hospital, notify.

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The final few months of David J. Zanghi Sr.’s life were extremely difficult, to say the least.

In November 2019, the lifelong Batavian became an unsuspecting victim of a domestic dispute that turned into a 20-hour standoff at 209 Liberty St. Zanghi resided in the downstairs apartment; the incident involved the tenant who lived upstairs.

The aftermath of that event resulted in Zanghi having to find another place to live due to the damage caused by police officers during their attempt to talk the perpetrator -- who was armed with a knife and BB gun -- into surrendering.

It was, according to his sister and advocate, Mary Ellen Wilber, too much for the physically and emotionally impaired Air Force veteran to deal with and sent him into a downward spiral that ended with his death on March 27.david_zanghi.png

Zanghi, affectionately known as the “Mayor of the Southside” due to his outgoing and caring demeanor, succumbed at the age of 67 after going into cardiac arrest at Strong Memorial Hospital of the University of Rochester.

The cause of death?

“He died of COVID-19,” said Wilber, speaking by telephone from her New Jersey home on Thursday. “The Health Department has said there is one Genesee County resident who has died (from the coronavirus) -- a male over the age of 65. That person is my brother, David.”

The Batavian was unable to confirm with authorities that Zanghi died of COVID-19 but, nonetheless, Wilber’s story is quite compelling.

'Thing with the City ... that destroyed him'

She said her brother suffered from end-stage kidney failure (he was on dialysis), diabetes and heart disease, and also was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

He had managed to keep things together in his adult years, she said, by regularly connecting with family, friends and neighbors. Everything changed, however, following the standoff.

“The thing that happened with the City, I’ll be honest with you, that destroyed him,” said Wilber, who contends that law enforcement used the Liberty Street incident as a tactical exercise.

“He lost faith in his community. David was such an outgoing, loving and caring person. Everyone on the Southside as we grew up knew him as Davey Joe. As an adult, he was David.”

Wilber said her brother became despondent over what he perceived as the Batavia police’s lack of concern for his situation – the destruction caused by hundreds of tear gas canisters – and that despair turned into paranoia.

“So, when you have a person who never caused any problem in the City of Batavia, who had always been good in the City of Batavia, was a good neighbor to the neighbors next door, to the neighbors on Liberty Street, was cordial and had always been cordial to the police – and you can ask the police officers if my brother had always been cordial to them -- … and you discounted all of those things and treated him horribly,” she said.

“It undermined his mental capacity and he was afraid of what they would do to him next because no one ever cared about what they did to him.”

Zanghi eventually was relocated by his landlord to a home on Grandview Terrace (after plans to go to an apartment on Summit Street didn’t work out), Wilber said. He was lonely and depressed, she said, and he fell down on more than one occasion -- the last time fracturing his shoulder in February.

“The shoulder got infected, David got sick and became disoriented, developing a fever of 101,” Wilber said. “So, we took him to the U of R (Strong) and the infection went through his whole body. He had bacterial pneumonia.”

Family asked doctors to check for coronavirus

During his 10-day stay at Strong, Wilber said she and her sister, Michelle Gaylord, “repeatedly asked (doctors) to make sure you check Zanghi for COVID-19."

“They said no COVID, everything’s fine. Then they did two major operations on his shoulder (on March 19 and 21), and they day before he died the social worker and I were planning for his discharge. He was medically stable,” Wilber said, adding that the family was looking at putting him in the NYS Veterans Home on the VA Medical Center grounds in Batavia.

Wilber said her brother was “doing great but we were kind of curious because he was so tired.”

“When you have COVID-19, you’re exhausted because the COVID is taking over your body," said Wilber, whose has worked for the Center for Disease Control on special projects and has taught about HIV for 35 years.

“So, when he died on that Friday, the doctor said your brother’s pulse stopped. His heart just stopped. Well, a side effect of COVID-19 is sudden cardiac arrest.”

While she holds no ill will against the doctors and nurses at Strong, Wilber said she was livid when she found out that they did not test her brother for COVID-19 while he was alive, but did test him right after he died.

'My brother got COVID-19 while he was up there'

“He got infected there because all of us were previously tested and none of us who were with David have got the virus,” she said. “What makes this wild is that my brother got COVID-19 while he was up there. He died from it. They told us that he tested positive and what makes us crazy is that he got infected by somebody up there and, in turn, he exposed everybody that he came in contact with.”

Wilber said her brother was in the emergency room for two and a half days – “he probably got it down there,” she presumes – and then he went in for X-ray, CAT scan, ultrasound and blood work.

“Then he was on the sixth floor for almost eight days … all the nurses, all the doctors, the surgeons, the specialists, all the lab people – all of those people were exposed to COVID-19,” she said. “I have lost so many nights' sleep praying for those healthcare workers. Do you know how ridiculous U of R is because they never tested him? They would have found that before he died. They could have put him in isolation. I called the governor’s office, got a special advisor –and messaged him, I want you to know this.”

An administrative assistant returning phone calls for Strong Memorial Hospital’s public relations department verified this morning that Zanghi was a patient there and did pass away there on March 27. She said HIPAA laws and patient confidentiality restrictions prevented her from providing other information.

Wilber: Family notified health department

Wilber said her sister notified the Genesee County Health Department of Zanghi’s death by COVID-19.

“And then they have a news conference and he (Director Paul Pettit) is breaking the news – saying that the health department notified the family,” she said. “Kiss my butt. My sister called them and told them my brother died of it.”

Wilber, who grew up on Wood Street in Batavia, said she is in the process of moving to Attica (Wyoming County) because she said she will never live in Genesee County again after the way the police treated her brother.

She said she wants to thank City Manager Martin Moore and Assistant City Manager Rachael Tabelski and the residents of Batavia for their kindness and to Rosanne DeMare of Genesee Justice who “went over and above.”

David Zanghi also leaves behind two sons, David Jr. of East Pembroke and Alex of Texas; sister, Rosanne Wray of Batavia; brother, Philip of Las Vegas, and their families; four grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

Wilber said a memorial service is planned for this spring or summer at Ascension Parish in Batavia, and that her brother will be buried at the Western New York National Cemetery in Pembroke.

Photo: David Zanghi Sr. on his front porch of his former residence at 209 Liberty St. Taken by Howard Owens following the 20-hour standoff in November 2019.

April 10, 2020 - 10:45am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia VA Center, news, batavia, covid-19, coronavirus, notify.

Two patients at the VA Hospital in Batavia have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a spokeswoman for the Veterans Administration in Western New York.

Statement:

Precautionary measures have been taken to mitigate the risk of transmission to other patients and staff, as the Veterans are being cared for in respiratory isolation by staff who are specially trained on Centers for Disease Control (CDC) treatment guidelines, including the use of personal protective equipment and infection-control techniques.

VA is screening Veterans and staff who present with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath who meet the CDC criteria for evaluation of COVID-19 infection. Per CDC guidance and VA protocols, patients known to be at risk for a COVID-19 infection are immediately isolated to prevent potential spread to others.

Veterans and staff are encouraged to take everyday preventive actions to avoid being exposed to the virus:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Stay home if you are sick or becoming sick;
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-percent alcohol;
  • If you have symptoms or have been exposed to someone with symptoms, call the VA before going to the facility.
April 9, 2020 - 7:32pm

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has announced that four detainees in the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

A spokesman for ICE said the COVID-19 positive inmates are 

  • A 62-year-old Pakistani national,
  • a 29-year-old Somali national,
  • a 37-year-old Honduran national, and
  • a 31-year-old Honduran national

We asked about contact tracing and whether any contacts, including, potentially staff, were placed on mandatory isolation, the spokesman responded, "Consistent with CDC guidelines, those who have come in contact with these individuals have been cohorted and are being monitored for symptoms."

A total of 48 ICE detainees nationally have tested positive, and 15 ICE employees working at detention centers have tested positive, but so far there are no reports of an employee of ICE in Batavia testing positive.

Any people testing positive for COVID-19 at federal facilities in Batavia are not part of the positive-case count provided by county health officials.  The Genesee County Health Department is not notified of positive cases either the detention facility or the VA Medical Center. 

CORRECTION: The paragraph above was based on information provided by the Health Department. Today, we received an email saying this statement was incorrect and during today's briefing (April 10), Public Health Director Paul Pettit said positive test results from these facilities are included in the county's tally of positive cases.

However, Paul Pettit, director of public health, said today that if asked for assistance with contact tracing to check for community spread, that assistance would be provided.

Earlier this week, Justice for Migrant Families WNY, an advocacy group, released what it said is a statement authorized by several detainees in Batavia.  The statement indicated that detainees are concerned about the possibility of coronavirus in the facility because of numerous interactions with staff and the inability to properly social distance.

April 9, 2020 - 4:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

New Cases

  • As of 2 p.m. today:
    • Genesee County received nine new positive case of COVID-19 for a total of 63 positive cases
      • Eight of the individuals reside in the central part of the County and one individual resides in the eastern part of the county.
      • One individual is in their 20s, five individuals are in their 30s, one individual is in the 40s, one individual is in their 50s, and one individual is in their 60s.
      • Three of the new positive cases were under precautionary or mandatory quarantine when they became symptomatic.
  • Orleans County: 3 new positive cases of COVID-19 for a total of 24
    • 2 of the individuals reside in the central part of the County and one individual resides in the western part of the County.
    • One individual is in their 50’s, one individual is in their 30’s, and one individual is in their 90’s.
    • One of the Orleans positive cases were connected to a confirmed positive case and is in mandatory isolation.
  • Contact tracing has been initiated for all new cases. Known contacts have already been placed under mandatory quarantine and will be swabbed if indicated (if symptoms become present).
  • If a person is identified as a contact, they will be notified by the County Health Department, quarantined and if warranted, swabbed if indicated. Limited information is provided to the public in compliance with HIPAA regulations and out of the respect of those impacted by this virus.
  • When, and if, there is a situation where potential contact is made in a public location where contact tracing doesn’t have actual names we will send out a media announcement to help seek contacts.

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Click here to view the Genesee and Orleans County online map of confirmed cases

OPERATIONAL UPDATES

Passover / Holy Week / Easter Holiday

  • We understand this is generally a time of family gatherings, however the NYS on PAUSE guidance is still in effect and all gatherings of individuals of any size for any reasons are canceled or postponed until at least April 22. (Executive Order 202.10) Remember that any nonessential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason (e.g. parties, celebrations or other social events) are also canceled or postponed at this time. Many houses of worship have been live streaming their services which allows them to share their message and touch base with their congregations. As challenging as this is to do, especially over the holidays, it is vital everyone stay home. Consider celebrating with a phone call, or a social app so you can see one another and remember the life you may be saving by staying home could be one of your loved ones. This is temporary.
  • Because COVID-19 is circulating locally, we can’t stress enough how important social distancing is and that EVERYONE needs to take this seriously and stay home! It is your social and civic responsibility to protect yourselves and others.

The Use of Cloth Face Coverings

  • The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected. Recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms. Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing or proper handwashing.
  • The cloth face cover should:
    • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
    • be secured with ties or ear loops
    • include multiple layers of fabric
    • allow for breathing without restriction
    • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape
  • The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
  • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

Mental Health

  • Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations and having to socially distance yourself from someone you love can be difficult. Below are resources that can help you connect to a professional that can help you through these challenging times:
    • Care + Crisis Helpline is available 24/7 at 585-283-5200 or text "Talk" to 741741
    • New Yorkers can call the COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline at 1-844-863-9314 for mental health counseling
    • Head Space: A mindfulness app called Headspace is offering some meditations to listen to for free to ease minds in such a stressful time.The app is free to download and includes meditations, sleep, and movement exercises to help with the varying emotions you may be feeling. The app does include in-app purchases. https://www.headspace.com/covid-19
April 9, 2020 - 8:56am

The Genesee County District Attorney’s Office and the family of murder victim Norman D. “Don” Ball vehemently oppose an application that would permit Kyle Johnson to be moved from a secure mental health facility in Orange County to a non-secure facility.120mug_kylejohnson_1.jpg

Johnson (photo at right), in December of 2016, was committed to the Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Center in New Hampton after being found not responsible by reason of mental disease or defect of murder.

It was a year earlier, on Dec. 1, 2015, when Johnson shot the 69-year-old Ball to death while he was sleeping at his Selden Road, Le Roy residence.

Johnson then returned to his own home, set it on fire and then fired shots at a Le Roy fire chief and Le Roy police officer when they responded to the fire alarm. Following an hours-long standoff -- during which Johnson reportedly asked officers to shoot him and threatened officers with a rifle in his arms – the perpetrator surrendered peacefully to authorities.

These actions led District Attorney Lawrence Friedman to file an eight-count indictment against Johnson that included charges of murder, burglary, arson and attempted murder.

In the end, Johnson was evaluated by a pair of psychologists – one hired by the prosecution and the other hired by the defense – and it was determined that he was not guilty by reason of mental illness or defect.

Tentative court date set for April 29

Three years and four months later, officials at Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Center are petitioning Orange County Supreme Court to allow Johnson to be transferred to a non-secure facility. A tentative date of April 29 has been set by the court to ensure the matter stays on the court’s calendar.

Assistant District Attorney Diane LaVallee, who has been assigned to the case, on Tuesday said the Genesee County DA’s office is against the proposed transfer considering the severity of the crimes committed and the timing of such a move.

“For someone to go from, so obviously, terribly dangerously mentally ill to not being dangerously mentally ill after three years of services … this is hard to believe,” LaVallee said. “I think that everyone expected that this was going to happen someday but no one, including Mr. Friedman, would have ever believed that it would be this quickly. It’s very, very soon.”

LaVallee, with 35 years’ experience as a prosecutor, joined the Genesee County DA’s office recently. She previously served as deputy chief of Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit of the NYS Attorney General’s Office and, before that, chief of the Attorney General’s Capital Assistance to Prosecutors Unit.

She said her office is taking all steps necessary to ensure that Johnson, who was 53 at the time of the murder, stays in a secure mental health facility.

DA's office to seek psychiatric exam

“The DA’s office can be a party to this even though this is a civil proceeding, but we obviously are an interested party, so we have given our notice of appearance and expressed our opposition to such a transfer at this time,” she said. “We’ve been actively going through the process of getting another psychiatrist to conduct an examination of him and we have received the (confidential) medical records.”

LaVallee added that Genesee Justice has drafted a letter seeking information about Johnson’s mental state that would be helpful to the court in deciding whether or not Johnson remains dangerously mentally ill. Those interested in responding to this call for information are asked to contact Rosanne DeMare at Genesee Justice, LaVallee said.

“What we’re looking for is information that would be relevant to whether he currently suffers from a dangerous mental illness,” LaVallee explained. “Relevant information would include information that people might have relating to statements that he may have made about his mental illness or his current capacity.”

Continuing, she said that sometimes patients in these facilities will still correspond with individuals (from the area where the crimes were committed).

“Just as importantly, the horrendous incident itself isn’t that long ago," she said. "So, one of the arguments we expect to make … is that it’s just too soon. The brutal murder of one individual and shooting at other responders at the scene; by nature, you’re not going to be cured of your dangerousness within this short a period of time.”

Victim's son says system is partly to blame

Ball’s son, Ryan, 41, on Wednesday said he is “completely against” a possible transfer and said the system failed society by not locking Johnson up prior to the murder.

“It’s unprecedented how fast this is happening. It’s not even the norm that somebody would be set free or healed in that amount of time,” Ryan said. “I think it’s a danger to society to allow that. And the whole reason that he did this in the first place is because he was not put away after doing several things. He should have been put away before this ever happened.”

Ryan said that Johnson’s history includes holding his own family at gunpoint and “nothing was done about it.”

“He (Johnson) is notorious for not taking his medication,” he said. “I don’t like the fact that he got away on a not guilty by reason of insanity; I do not agree with that. It would have been an uphill battle from what doctors were saying (that Johnson was mentally ill). Sane or not, you know right from wrong. You should be able to be prosecuted.”

Ryan also said he believes the proposed transfer has more to do with a lack of bed space at facilities such as the one in Orange County.

“While I’m glad they’re (the DA’s office) going to battle to keep him in there, I don’t believe it has anything to do with him being healed or any saner, but more about not having enough facilities to handle people,” he said. “That’s my personal opinion.”

Ryan lives with his wife and children on the Selden Road property in a new home that he built (after tearing down the old one). He has three sisters, Cherie (Craig) Wessel of Le Roy, Jeanette Keating of Spencerport and Shawna (Ken) Geil of Spencerport.

'Too soon and a lack of bed space'

His mother, Carol Rider, and her husband, John, said Friedman assured them at the time of the verdict that Johnson “wouldn’t see the light of day for many, many years.” This new development, however, has them worried.

“It has only been three years," Carol said. "They’re going to have a hearing to put him in a minimum-security facility and the next step after that is ‘good-bye.’ And that’s mostly because of lack of bed space.” 

“We feel the community needs to know what is going on and have a chance to give their input,” John added.

LaVallee said she wasn’t sure where Johnson would end up should the court rule in his favor to be transferred, but it could be the Rochester Psychiatric Center.

“Hypothetically, someone admitted to a less secure facility would be put into a lockdown unit with certain conditions put on him,” she said. “As he shows his ability to be not dangerous or (ability to be) compliant, then he’ll be given more freedom but also with more conditions. Eventually, yes, the goal is that he’s back in society.”

She said that some people can be rehabilitated and not be a threat to society, but “we don’t want to create a vigilante-type of atmosphere either.”

“He (Johnson) has got to be able to live safely wherever he ends up living,” she said. “This, hopefully, will be years and years down the line, but whenever it happens we want to weigh the understandable grief and outrage of the victim’s family with his own safety as well.”

An administrator at the Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Center said “probably not” when asked if someone would be available to comment on the facility’s petition to the court, mentioned a media contact and then hung up the phone.

April 8, 2020 - 8:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, batavia, notify.

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A car has reportedly hit a pedestrian in area of 15 Highland Park, Batavia.

City Fire and Mercy EMS responding.

UPDATE 9:46 p.m.: Batavia PD detectives are responding to the scene. Sgt. Eric Bolles confirmed that the scene is being treated as a crime scene. He said officers at this time do not know what happened and are trying to locate a cooperative witness. The driver was no longer on scene. Bolles could not confirm his status. A woman on scene was offering suggestions of where the driver might be. Bolles did not know condition of the victim, who was apparently taken by Mercy EMS to the Mercy Flight hangar to be airlifted to Strong Memorial Hospital. A man at the scene was yelling at police claiming they weren't doing anything about the situation. Bolles said there probably won't be an update from Batavia PD until the morning.

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April 8, 2020 - 4:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

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Daily COVID-19 Briefing:

New Cases

  • As discussed during yesterday’s briefing, we are adding age ranges broken down by decade (except those from ages 0-20) to reiterate that any age is susceptible to COVID-19 and the complications. Throughout the nation even young people are having serious complications that may be associated with known or unknown underlying health conditions and health behaviors such as smoking, vaping and obesity. Tomorrow we are planning on including a cumulative breakdown of the ages.
  • As of 2 p.m. today:
    • Genesee County received 11 new positive cases of COVID-19 for a total of 54 positive cases
      • Ten of the individuals reside in the central part of the County and one individual resides in the eastern part of the county.
      • One individual is in their 20s; four individuals are in their 30s; two individuals are in their 40s; three individuals are in their 60s, and one individual is in their 70s.
  • Orleans County: Four new positive cases of COVID-19 for a total of 21
    • All four new cases live in the central part of Orleans County. One is in their 50s, one in their 70s, one in their 80s and one in their 90s
    • All of the Orleans positive cases were connected to a confirmed positive case and are in mandatory isolation.
  • Contact tracing has been initiated for all new cases. Known contacts have already been placed under mandatory quarantine and will be swabbed if indicated (if symptoms become present).
  • If a person is identified as a contact, they will be notified by the County Health Department, quarantined and if warranted, swabbed if indicated. Limited information is provided to the public in compliance with HIPAA regulations and out of the respect of those impacted by this virus.
  • When, and if, there is a situation where potential contact is made in a public location where contact tracing doesn’t have actual names we will send out a media announcement to help seek contacts.

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Click here to view the Genesee and Orleans County online map of confirmed cases

OPERATIONAL UPDATES

  • Going out for essentials -- recommendations.
    If you have to pick up essential items such as groceries or prescriptions, only one member of the house hold should be going out. Make a list ahead of time to limit your exposure in the store. Maintain at least 6 feet of distance between you and other people. Do not bring in unessential items such as purses, phones, etc.
  • Because COVID-19 is circulating locally, we can’t stress enough how important social distancing is and that EVERYONE needs to take this seriously and stay home! It is your social and civic responsibility to protect yourselves and others.

Businesses and Employers

  • Essential Businesses must continue to comply with the guidance and directives for maintaining a clean and safe work environment issued by the New York State Department of Health and every business, even if essential, is strongly urged to maintain social distance to the extent possible.
  • As an employer or business, it is your responsibility to protect your workforce and to follow and understand guidance as it pertains to COVID-19. The health and safety of your employees should be your utmost concern. Below are some things to consider:
    • Actively encourage sick employees to stay home.
    • If an employee becomes sick while at work, they should be separated from other employees, customers, and visitors and sent home immediately. Follow CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting areas the sick employee visited.
    • Have conversations with employees about their concerns. Some employees may be at higher risk for severe illness, such as older adults and those with chronic medical conditions.
  • The Governor has established the New York State PAUSE Enforcement Assistance Task Force where individuals can file complaints regarding the operation of nonessential businesses or gatherings 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Click here to file a complaint online. You may also call 1-833-789-0470. Businesses that are not in compliance with the Governor’s executive order may be penalized.
  • If you believe your employer is in violation of either existing labor laws or recently issued executive orders, please contact the New York State Attorney General’s office at (212) 416-8700 or mailto:[email protected]

The Use of Cloth Face Coverings

  • The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected. Recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms. Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing or proper hand washing.
     
  • The cloth face cover should:
    • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face;
    • be secured with ties or ear loops;
    • include multiple layers of fabric;
    • allow for breathing without restriction;
    • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.
       
  • The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
  • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

Mental Health

  • Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations and having to socially distance yourself from someone you love can be difficult. Below are resources that can help you connect to a professional that can help you though these challenging times:
    • Care + Crisis Helpline is available 24/7 at 585-283-5200 or text "Talk" to 741741;
    • New Yorkers can call the COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline at 1-844-863-9314 for mental health counseling;
    • Head Space: A mindfulness app called Headspace is offering some meditations to listen to for free to ease minds in such a stressful time. The app is free to download and includes meditations, sleep, and movement exercises to help with the varying emotions you may be feeling. The app does include in-app purchases.
April 7, 2020 - 11:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, UMMC, notify.

Video provided by Rochester Regional Health.

Norma Longrod is from Orleans County. She was brought into the emergency room at United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia following a fall. Doctors found she was running a high fever and was presenting other symptoms of COVID-19 so she was immediately placed in isolation.

While not attributing her recovery specifically to hydroxychloroquine, a doctor in the video does say she was treated with the drug, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo said more than a week ago said would be used on a trial basis in New York to treat patients with COVID-19.

April 6, 2020 - 6:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

There are 46 people in mandatory quarantine in Genesee County, many of them, according to the Health Department, because an employee of a local business went to work while ill and later tested positive for COVID-19.

In keeping with privacy laws, the Health Department is releasing no further information about the person or where that person worked.

The department received reports from state labs over Saturday, Sunday and Monday, of 10 more local residents testing positive for the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. 

There has been a total of 32 positive cases in Genesee County since the first positive test locally, reported on March 17. There are currently 23 people in mandatory isolation because they tested positive, eight people have recovered, and there has been one death.

Four of the people with positive test results over the weekend were previously on mandatory quarantine.

Of the 10 new cases, all 10 are under age 65. We tried to find out how many were under age 40 and under age 30 and a spokesperson for the department declined to releases that information citing privacy concerns.

There are currently no local residents hospitalized because of the coronavirus.

Public Health Director Paul Pettit, in light of the fact a person who later tested positive went to work sick, reiterated the need for people to pay attention to warnings about COVID-19.

“When you are sick, stay home from work,” stated Pettit, “A significant increase in the number of mandatory quarantines being reported today is due to a symptomatic person going to work at a local business. Also, if you are part of gatherings and even one person tests positive everyone in close contact to the positive will be placed on mandatory quarantine. We’re all in this together, we need to make sacrifices in the short term to get us through this challenging time.”

The health department indicates the sick person only had close contact with fellow workers and, besides the ones already identified and placed in mandatory quarantine, the department is working with the company to identify further individuals who might need to go into quarantine.

April 6, 2020 - 5:48pm

UPDATE: We spoke with Police Chief Shawn Heubusch about this order and how it might be enforced. He said police officers will be driving by and monitoring the parks to ensure compliance with the order but officers will be unlikely to issue tickets. He said they will issue warnings, reminding people of the importance of social distancing, and asking them to move along. At least on first-time offenses. "We're just asking people to cooperate during this because we want to keep everybody as healthy as possible," Heubusch said. If it becomes necessary to cite somebody for violation of the order, a violation of a local emergency order is a Class B misdemeanor. 

Press release:

Effective Immediately -- EMERGENCY ORDER #1-2020

Acting under the State of Emergency Declaration issued by my hand at 4:30 p.m. on March 22, 2020 and continuing in effect for a period not to exceed thirty (30) days, I issue the following emergency order(s), which shall be in effect through April 11, 2020, and is subject to renewal:

1. All Public Parks within the City Limits of the City of Batavia, New York remain open to public use from 7 a.m. to dusk. During the times that public parks are open, State of New York declared restrictions on congregating will be observed.

In addition, all playground areas, tennis courts, pickle ball courts, basketball courts, picnic pavilions, splash pads, and other park facilities that are used for activities that constitute congregating are closed to public use.

As a reminder, all public parks in the City of Batavia are closed dusk to dawn. Closures will be enforced.

Contact: Martin Moore
City Manager
Phone: 585-345-6333
Email: [email protected]

April 6, 2020 - 5:40pm

Submitted image and press release:

Genesee County Office of Emergency Management in cooperation with the Genesee County Health Department will be utilizing Wireless Emergency Alerts, a public alert and warning system to reinforce the importance of health and safety guidance issued by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), NYS Department of Health and the Genesee County Health Department.  

Periodic messages will be sent out to promote health and safety and to ensure timely and accurate information is shared with all Genesee County residents. You will be receiving an alert to your cell phone tomorrow (April 7) at approximately 12 and 6 p.m. 

Your impact on the community is great and your efforts in promoting safety guidelines is appreciated.

Recommended guidance to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 include:

  • Stay at home;
  • Wash your hands frequently;
  • Follow social distancing; stay 6 feet away from non-household members.

We thank you and your community for your cooperation during these difficult times.  

Frequently Asked Questions: Wireless Emergency Alerts

Why are Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) important to me?

  • Alerts received at the right time can help keep you safe during an emergency. With WEA, warnings can be sent to your mobile device when you may be in harm's way, without the need to download an app or subscribe to a service.

What are WEA messages?

  • Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are emergency messages sent by authorized government alerting authorities through your mobile carrier.

What types of alerts will I receive?

  • Imminent Threat Alerts that include extreme weather, and other threatening emergencies in your area
  • Public Safety Alerts that are less severe in nature than Imminent Threat Alerts
  • AMBER (missing child) Alerts
  • Presidential Alerts during a national emergency
  • Messages that are opt in message to support state and local WEA testing

What does a WEA message look like?

WEA will look like a text message. The WEA message will show the type and time of the alert, any action you should take, and the agency issuing the alert. The message will be no more than 360 characters.

April 6, 2020 - 4:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

The Center for Disease Control has reversed course on the general public wearing face masks to help protect themselves and others (mostly others) from the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the strain of coronavirus currently running through our nation and our community.

While masks are no substitute for social distancing and hand washing, they could help flatten the curve.

Today, the CDC issued guidelines for wearing and making masks. Click here for the guidelines.

We previously offered to start a list of people in the community willing to make masks for others and so far have received one response. If there are others, email your name and contact information to [email protected]

Our list:

Previously: It may be a good idea to wear face masks (just don't buy masks needed by medical professionals)

Also, here's a video on how to properly wash your hands.

April 6, 2020 - 4:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

COVID-19 Briefing as of 2 p.m. today

New Cases

  • Genesee County received 10 new positive cases of COVID-19 for a total of 32 positive cases:
    • All of the positive cases are under mandatory isolation at home;
    • Four of the positive cases were under mandatory quarantine and are now under mandatory isolation;
    • Ten are under the age of 65 residing in the central part of Genesee County;
  • Orleans County: Six new positive cases of COVID-19 for a total of 15:
    • One of the positive cases is under the age of 65 and lives in the eastern part of Orleans County;
    • One of the positive cases is 65 and over and resides in the western part of Orleans County;
    • Four of the positive cases are 65 and older and reside in the central part of Orleans County;
    • One of the six is under isolation at the hospital and the other five are under mandatory isolation at home;
    • Two of the Orleans positive cases were under precautionary or mandatory quarantine when they became symptomatic.
  • Contact tracing has been initiated for all new cases. Known contacts have already been placed under mandatory quarantine and will be swabbed if indicated (if symptoms become present).
  • If a person is identified as a contact, they will be notified by the County Health Department, quarantined and if warranted, swabbed if indicated. Limited information is provided to the public in compliance with HIPAA regulations and out of the respect of those impacted by this virus.
  • When, and if, there is a situation where potential contact is made in a public location where contact tracing doesn’t have actual names we will send out a media announcement to help seek contacts
  • We are asking that people be respectful and accommodating of health care workers and responders. They are doing their job to protect you and our community. 
  • Be Responsible -- Because COVID-19 is circulating locally, we can’t stress enough how important social distancing is and that EVERYONE needs to take this seriously and stay home! It is your social and civic responsibility to protect yourselves and others.
    • Today’s jump in numbers are reflective of increasing community spread and the fact so many are still out and about, taking the family grocery shopping, going to work sick, and having gatherings at home. Keep in mind as you disregard the Governor’s orders and related guidance, you are risking exposure to yourself and your family members…and are perpetuating the spread of COVID-19 for everyone in our communities
    • When you are sick, stay home from work! A significant increase in the number of mandatory quarantines being reported today is due to a symptomatic person going to work at a local business. If you are part of gatherings and even one person tests positive everyone in close contact to the positive will be placed on mandatory quarantine. We’re all in this together, we need to make sacrifices in the short term to get us through this challenging time. 
  • Click here to view the Genesee and Orleans County online map of confirmed cases.

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OPERATIONAL UPDATES

  • Connect together by celebrating apart. We understand that Easter is a time many families gather to celebrate the holiday with spring time traditions such as Easter egg hunts and large family dinners. We are asking our communities to think of fun and clever ways in which you can still virtually connect with your loved ones while keeping everyone safe and healthy.
  • Going out for essentials: If you have to pick up essential items such as groceries or prescriptions, only one member of the house hold should be going out. Make a list ahead of time to limit your exposure in the store. Maintain at least 6 feet of distance between you and other people. Do not bring in unessential items such as purses, phones, etc. These items can carry germs from the store and back home with you. Wash your hands frequently.
  • Practice social distancing everywhere, including outdoors. As the weather begins to warm up it is important to understand that you must continue to practice social distancing. This means maintaining 6 feet of distance between you and other people. DO NOT play or participate in sports or activities that bring people together. If you are walking, jogging, or biking outside, make sure you pass people at a minimum of 6 feet apart. Being outdoors will not protect you from contracting the virus. Remember this is only temporary. The more we practice social distancing the sooner we can get back to normal.
  • Please stay home if you are sick. DO NOT go to work if you are sick, symptomatic, or feel unwell. If you develop symptoms while at work, go home immediately.
  • Medical Concerns: If you feel you may have COVID-19, call your primary care provider or healthcare facility ahead of time. DO NOT GO DIRECTLY THERE, CALL AHEAD TO GET GUIDANCE.
April 6, 2020 - 3:43pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, genesee county, batavia, Andrew Cuomo, notify, covid-19, VLT money.

Word that Albany has restored Video Lottery Terminal money generated by Batavia Downs Gaming is good news to Genesee County municipalities, but a couple of other stipulations in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2020-21 budget likely will result in increased financial stress beyond the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Assemblyman Stephen M. Hawley confirmed today that the state budget includes the restoration of VLT funds to Genesee County ($200,392), Town of Batavia ($160,388) and City of Batavia ($440,789).

Lawmakers of the three entities previously were advised – late in their budget processes -- that VLT money would no longer be available, and that left sizeable gaps in their budgets. In the case of the City of Batavia, there was a $700,000 shortfall, causing City Council to pass a budget that includes a $7.48 percent property tax increase.

Hawley said getting the VLT money back into local hands is one of the few bright spots of the state budget.

“I worked very hard on that to get it restored from the governor’s proposed cutting,” said Hawley, who is in his 15th year as a state legislator. “Last year, he proposed cutting a percentage of it to the city, the town and the county, and this year he took the total ax to it in his executive budget. But we were able to get that restored in its entirety and that will be of great help.”

While the state could hold the VLT money depending upon revenues and expenditures during this fiscal year, Hawley and County Manager Jay Gsell believe that the local municipalities are safe for the time being.

“Technically, the governor does have the ability to withhold funds from any entity, but hopefully that won't be the case here," Hawley said. "You never know what the governor or legislature will do with the state budget, but this restores it for this year. Each January when the governor comes up with his budget, it seems to be a favorite chopping block for him. That’s why they can’t necessarily count on it from year to year.”

Gsell said it was his understanding that the VLT funding was voted on as a separate appropriation, a line item not subject to the governor’s power to incrementally reduce aid reimbursements to local governments and others, including school districts, based on revenue streams.

“We got a summary from NYSAC (New York State Association of Counties) of all the good, bad and indifferent, and VLT funding was one of the things that in the last two weeks of the budget deliberation -- before the three people in the room made the decision – that would be voted on as part of the full package,” Gsell said. “And that’s exactly what happened.”

'Unilateral power' designation raises eyebrows

The county manager said he’s a bit wary over the legislature’s granting of “somewhat unilateral power” to the governor, calling it “unchartered territory as far as local governments are concerned.”

Hawley said he voted “no” to every budget bill for the first time ever, pointing to a flawed process and the decision to give Cuomo more authority.

“For many, many, many reasons I voted for the first time ever “no” on every single budget bill, even though there were things in there like restoration of CHIPs funding (Consolidated Highway Improvement Program), extreme winter recovery, sales tax renewals for the counties I represent,” Hawley said. “Every bill always has good stuff and bad stuff in it, you just have to decide what the general impact is, but because of the way this was done and the way it was held off until the very last minute without appropriate legislative review, I had a huge problem with it.”

He said he was in favor of a “continuing resolution” that would have allowed the state to continue operating and then have the legislature return to Albany when the pandemic was under control.

“Additionally, we would have some sort of -- because this will affect us for years and years to come -- idea what the revenues actually will be and what the expenses may be and then we will be able to approach it with some knowledge,” he said.

Hawley said the “made-up figures were really catastrophic and not an appropriate way to run the state or any business.”

“How do you make up numbers when you have no idea? I thought we could have averted all of this – bringing all 213 legislators back into the buildings -- who knows who brought what with them in terms of this disease. And then we ceded power to the governor to make any changes that he wants to as the budget goes on as opposed to having legislative input on that … that’s not what the election process is all about in a democracy.”

City to use VLT funds to offset costs

City Council President Eugene Jankowski weighed in on the new VLT development, stating that he expects the restored funds to be used to offset some of the spending cuts in this year’s budget and the loss of sales tax revenue caused by the coronavirus shutdown.

“It’s too late to change anything in our 2020-21 budget,” he said. “Since it’s already been passed, we can’t do anything about the tax rate. But it’s great that we will have it to use next year.”

Gsell said having the $200,000 certainly helps the county, which has put its capital projects – including the construction of a new jail – on hold as it calculates the impact of COVID-19.

He is troubled, however, by Cuomo’s creation of a fund to skim county sales tax revenue to support “distressed hospitals and nursing homes” and continuation of a program to use county sales tax money to assist other municipalities.

“I guess you could say it’s a double-edged sword,” Gsell said. “The governor and the comptroller are establishing a $250 million fund over the next two years to help finance distressed hospitals and nursing homes, and we could be hit for about $250,000 in the first year,” Gsell said. “Previously, this had strictly been a state commitment in that regard.”

Gsell: 'Taxation without representation'

Noting that he has no idea whether United Memorial Medical Center or the local half-dozen long-term care facilities would be targeted for assistance, Gsell said this “assessment” is putting Genesee County back into a deficit funding situation – something it removed itself from when it sold the County Nursing Home three years ago.

He also bemoaned the fact that the state, for the second year, will be taking county sales tax to distribute as part of the AIM (Aid and Incentives for Municipalities) program.

“Again, in the past the state fully funded this out of their own coffers,” Gsell said. “They use a formula -- I believe it’s about a 2 percent equation in there – and last year, we saw $320,000 of county sales tax intercepted by the state so they could make those payments to the villages and towns and, in some cases, the city. This year, it could be another $250,000 hit to county sales tax before we even get the standard distribution that they’ll provide. This is taxation without representation. We had no input into how this fund was set up or what the calculation of the formula is.”

Gsell said the county “dodged a bullet” in regard to increased Medicaid funding as the governor’s proposal to remove the cap of local shares was not included in the budget.

“He had a three-pronged proposal that could have significantly changed how much we are paying on a weekly share on our present $9.6 million a year that we’re already committed to sending to the state,” he said.

April 6, 2020 - 1:05pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, Oakfield.

William R. Metz, 48, of Batavia (no address provided), was arrested April 4 and charged with: criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree -- a Class C felony; second-degree menacing; reckless endangerment in the second degree; and fourth degree criminal mischief. NYS Troopers responded to a 9-1-1 report of a possible domestic incident on Batavia-Oakfield Town Line Road in the Town of Oakfield. After an investigation it is alleged that Metz threatened the victim with a weapon and fired multiple rounds in the residence. Metz was arraigned in Town of Oakfield Court and put in Genesee County Jail on $2,500 cash bail or $5,000 bound. The NYSP Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) assisted in this investigation.

Alex S. Dumbleton, 26, of Batavia (no address provided), was arrested for petit larceny. It is alleged that at 1:05 p.m. on April 4 that stole 22 items from Walmart totaling $115.50. Dumbleton was issued an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia Town Court on May 28. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Travis DeMuth.

April 5, 2020 - 11:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in coronavirus, news, covid-19, video, notify.
Video Sponsor

Genesee County came together today to remind ourselves we are a community, to thank those who work hard to keep our economy going in these tough times, and raise money for Crossroads House.

More than 160 truckers met at Scofield Roll-Off in Stafford for the Corona Convoy, an event organized by Bruce Scofield and friends.

The video contains shots from members of the community throughout Genesee County who stood roadside to wave and honor the men and women who keep the economy rolling.

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April 4, 2020 - 11:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

The executive order Gov. Andrew Cuomo said yesterday he was going to sign requiring Upstate hospitals to ship some of their ventilators and personal protective gear Downstate has caused a firestorm of opposition in Western New York.

Elected leaders and aspiring candidates have weighed in with their objections and social media posts have exploded in debates about the policy.

The rising consensus is that once again, Cuomo is putting the needs, desires, and priorities of urban Downstate residents over their rural fellow citizens.

The Batavian made multiple attempts to reach out to the governor's office to ask four questions we thought might help clarify things for readers:

  • We want to know: Who determines and defines "excess"? Our public health director, Paul Pettit, said yesterday that between Orleans and Genesee Counties, there are 11 ventilators. While none are currently being used for COVID-19 patients, he doesn't know how many are being used to treat other respiratory illnesses. He is concerned that when the coronavirus outbreak reaches its peak here, local hospitals will need 100 ventilators. "That's why we don't feel we have an excess that we can offer up to Downstate," Pettit said.
  • As for personal protective equipment (PPE), there are ongoing concerns about a shortage of gear in our own county (though another shipment arrived yesterday), so the same question applies: How and who determines if there is an excess of PPE in Genesee County?
  • What guarantee can the governor offer that if ventilators are needed here, that there will be an immediate and timely backfill of any ventilators removed from our area?
  • What is the calculation, has one been done, or what is the projection that we can rely on, that will assure us that Downstate's apex will subside before one in GLOW begins?

Late today, a member of the press office responded and pointed us to comments by Cuomo that he said should satisfy the first question.

To the first question, what defines "excess"? Today in his briefing Cuomo said, "So, what do we do? We find what equipment we have, we use it the best we can. If you ask hospitals today what ventilators do you have that are unused and available that they don’t need in the short term and take 20 percent of that number of available ventilators, that’s 500 ventilators."

To the overall scope of the questions, the aide pointed to Cuomo's discussion about Oregon assisting New York in its time of need.

The State of Oregon has lent us 140 ventilators. It was kind, it was smart, stop the virus here. It's better for the state of Oregon, it's better for the nation. Their curve comes after ours. We'll return their 140 ventilators, and there's never been a discussion, but frankly, I know New Yorkers and I know New Yorkers' generosity. We will turn it double fold because that's who we are and that's what we believe. So, stop the fire in New York, kind, generous, also smart.

The governor's office estimates that New York needs 17,000 ventilators total. It's unclear how many the federal government has or will send. There are efforts underway to hook up two patients at a time to a single ventilator. They are also efforts to use anesthesia machines and a machine called a BiPAP (similar to a CPAP used to treat sleep apnea but adjusts to the inhale and exhale of the person wearing the mask).

Also, Cuomo announced today that Joe Tsai and Clara Tsai and Jack Ma, co-owners of Alibaba (China's largest e-commerce company) have purchased 1,000 ventilators and are sending them to New York.

The news about the number of ventilators Cuomo plans to transfer from Upstate to Downstate and the gifts from Oregon and China is a level of detail not part of Cuomo's announcement yesterday to take ventilators from Upstate.

Cuomo's statement on Friday:

I'm not going to get into a situation where we're running out of ventilators and people are dying because there are no ventilators but there are hospitals in other parts of the state that have ventilators that they're not using. I'm just not going to allow us to go there. I think it would be wholly irresponsible. I'm going to sign an executive order that says the state can take ventilators and PPE from institutions that don't need them now and redeploy them to other parts of the state and other hospitals that do need them. Those institutions will either get their ventilator back or they will be reimbursed and paid for their ventilator so they can buy a new ventilator.

That caused alarm bells in some quarters. Even Paul Pettit, in his mild-mannered way, expressed concern.

"Obviously, taking and removing any level of our ventilators or taking and removing any of our PPE that we have from our region or any region in our state is something that we have grave concerns about," Pettit said, sharing that Dan Ireland at UMMC shared his concern.

Noting that with COVID-19 cases are on the rise locally, our community needs its emergency supplies and staff.

"The last thing we want to do is get in a situation where our availability of PPE, our availability of respirators, any of those things, are not available for us when our peak, when our apex comes in the next two or three weeks," Pettit said. "I understand what the governor is trying to accomplish, that they have a need down there right now but I don’t want our communities to be in a very precarious and unfortunate situation that when ours comes we don’t have the type and level of respirators and PPE we need to respond effectively to help keep our folks, our residents in our counties safe. So, it is a big concern."

We asked Ireland to comment and said UMMC is working to ensure the hospital remains ready for whatever may come.

Rochester Regional Health, including UMMC, is working collaboratively with local, regional and state agencies to ensure that necessary resources are available where and when they are needed to care for all patients who require hospital care. At this time, UMMC has not been asked to divert equipment or resources Downstate and we stand ready to serve our community as we have been for over 100 years. We are grateful that the residents of our community are flattening the curve by staying home so that, together, we can stop the spread of the virus and keep our community at-large in good health.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley yesterday, blasted Cuomo's order.

"It’s the worst possible management of this crisis I have seen thus far, and I am asking the governor to rescind his Executive Order," Hawley said. "Upstate and Western New York lives matter.”

All of the Republican candidates for the NY-27's congressional race chimed in.

Most notably, Chris Jacobs, who is currently a state senator and the GOP-endorsed candidate in the special election to replace convicted criminal Chris Collins (the special election has been moved from April to June 23, the same date as the GOP primary), put out a tweet yesterday that claimed Buffalo General Hospital had already been forced to surrender 30 ventilators.

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The tweet was later deleted.

Kaleida Health issued the following statement about "social media rumors."

Michael P. Hughes, chief of staff, Kaleida Health said, “The rumors that have circulated on social media are completely false. The National Guard was not at Buffalo General Medical Center or any of our other hospitals. Nor were ventilators or supplies taken from us. This type of misinformation only causes further panic and chaos in a time of great uncertainty. That said, we still vehemently oppose the Governor's executive order to take 20 percent of Upstate hospitals' equipment and supplies. We will continue to fight this in an effort to protect our patients as well as our physicians, nurses, and staff during this pandemic."

Stefan Mychajliw, one of the candidates challenging Jacobs in the GOP primary put out a press release attacking Jacobs over the tweet.

“People are scared," Mychajliw said. "Our community is panicking. Young and old are fearful of dying. Many people lost their jobs. The last thing we need is someone falsely fanning the flames of discord just to score a few cheap political points in the middle of a campaign. Chris Jacobs must apologize for this false, reckless and irresponsible claim.”

The Batavian emailed the Jacob's campaign about the tweet, at a time when we were still trying to confirm it (as the screenshot above shows, we did find the original tweet) but did not get a response.

Jacobs had earlier put out a press release about the governor's executive order.

“The Governor has made it very clear that NYC is the starting point for COVID-19, but that a wave could very well travel across our state and hit Western New York," Jacobs said. "By taking away our vital medical supplies, the Governor is directly putting all Western New Yorkers at risk. When we don’t have the resources to fight COVID-19 here, we will lose Western New York lives.”

Beth Parlato, also a GOP challenger in the primary, responded to the governor's executive order by launching an online petition at wnylivesmatter.com/.

“Governor Cuomo issued an executive order that he is taking ventilators from Upstate New York to bring to New York City," Parlato said. "He is deploying the National Guard to remove essential supplies from our hospitals to take Downstate. We need these ventilators in Western New York to fight COVID-19! WNY medical professionals have been working tirelessly over the past few weeks, and they are running out of supplies. It is critical that our needs are considered."

With all of the announced GOP candidates for the NY-27 weighing in on the executive order, we sought a comment from Nate McMurray, the endorsed Democratic candidate in the special election and did not get a response.

While many of Cuomo's long-standing critics in WNY lined up to call Cuomo dictatorial, it hasn't been a sentiment that has been universally shared among conservative WNYers.

Republican operative and former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo, for example, has posted several tweets supporting Cuomo's order.

 

UPDATE 12:21 a.m.: McMurray provided the following statement:

The order reads, “from institutions that don't currently need them and redeploy the equipment to other hospitals with the highest need.” Some have tried to use scare tactics, to divide us, saying this means the governor will try to raid hospitals with ventilators already in use. My opponent, Chris Jacobs, lied saying Buffalo General Hospital was already raided, but later deleted his comment.

This is a time for bravery and cooperation, not scare tactics. Oregon sent ventilators to NYC, yet officials in Western New York are reluctant. It makes no sense. We are in this together. New York City’s fight is our fight. We need to try and stop the fire there before it spreads here. It’s one state, one country, and within our means, we must assist with the hope that Albany and New York will share other resources later. We do not want to go this alone, nor can we.

The real issue is our national response. Our President tells us we have enough tests and ventilators every day. Clearly we do not. It’s sad that it’s state vs. state, county vs. county because we have no national plan or vision.

April 4, 2020 - 7:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

Press release:

he Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments have received three more COVID-19 cases. Orleans has two new cases and Genesee has one. There is currently no further information to release on ages and locations. Mapping will be updated on Monday after the press the daily press briefing.

Contact tracing has been initiated.

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