Coronavirus Update (June)

Cathryn Fadde

Cathryn Fadde is preparing to open her Cold Spring restaurant for indoor dining once the region is cleared for Phase 3. (Photo by L. Sparks)

■ Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an order on Saturday (June 27) stripping paid sick leave protections from employees who voluntarily travel to high-risk states.

■ Cuomo said on June 24 that five regions — Central New York and the Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country and Southern Tier — are on track to enter Phase 4 of the state’s reopening plan on Friday (June 26). The state said arts and entertainment, film and TV production, higher education and professional sports without fans will be allowed, as well as social gatherings of up to 50 people and indoor religious services at up to 33 percent capacity. However, movie theaters, gyms, shopping malls and movie theaters will not be allowed to reopen, as some had anticipated. In a statement, State Sen. Sue Serino, a Republican whose district includes the Highlands, accused the state of “backtracking” and said the decision “defies logic.”

■ Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley, through its Dutchess Responds fund, awarded $23,000 in grants to John Flowers Community Events, Friends of Historic Hyde Park, Holy Light Pentecostal Church, Hudson Valley Hospice Foundation, Mediation Center of Dutchess County and the Rhinebeck Reformed Church Food Pantry.

■ Cuomo announced on June 14 that low-risk youth sports — including baseball, softball, cross-country, field hockey, crew and gymnastics — will be allowed as of July 6 for regions in Phase 3, with up to two spectators allowed per child. Adult recreational leagues also will be allowed.

■ On June 17, the governor said the Mid-Hudson Region was on track to enter Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan on June 23 and that New York City was on track to enter Phase 2 on June 22.  The maximum size of gatherings increases from 10 to 25 people in Phase 3, with social distancing in place.

■ On June 17, Cuomo signed legislation prohibiting health care employers from penalizing employees for making complaints of employer violations. “This new law will provide medical professionals with greater protections and allow them to speak more freely about their working conditions and employee or patient safety in the workplace,” he said. The bill passed the Senate, 60-1 (Sue Serino, whose district includes the Highlands, voted yes) and the Assembly, 125-19 (Sandy Galef, whose district includes Philipstown, and Jonathan Jacobson, whose district includes Beacon, each voted yes).

■ The Department of Motor Vehicles office in Poughkeepsie opened as of June 15 for licenses, permits and non-driver ID transactions, for Dutchess County residents, by appointment only.

■ Cuomo announced on June 16 that hospitals and group homes will be allowed to accept visitors at their discretion with time-limited visits and visitors required to wear personal protective equipment and be subject to symptom and temperature checks. The prohibition on nursing home visitors remains in place.

■ The state has prohibited overnight children’s camps from operating this summer.

■ Serino said on June 16 she planned to introduce legislation in the state Senate that would direct unused federal CARES Act relief funds to provide grants to small businesses and nonprofits to cover the costs of complying with state mandates for reopening such as modifying the physical layout of a work space; purchasing personal protective equipment or cleaning supplies; or upgrading technology for remote work.

■ Cornell Cooperative Extension Putnam County is again distributing free hand sanitizer and face coverings to local farms. See reg.cce.cornell.edu.

■ The governor on June 14 reminded bars and restaurants that any violations of reopening rules and guidelines can result in the loss of that establishment’s liquor license. In addition,  individuals can be fined for open container and social-distancing violations.

■ The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts canceled its 2020 season, which was to include shows by James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Norah Jones and The Black Crowes. Ticketholders may donate the value of their tickets, defer the value for events rescheduled for 2021 or receive a refund.

■ Local libraries announced they would begin curbside pickup. The Butterfield Library in Cold Spring will offer pickup as of June 15. In Beacon, the Howland Public Library began pickup on June 10. And in Garrison, the Desmond-Fish Public Library will begin pickup as of June 17. Pickups at each library are by appointment only through email or phone. Delivery can be arranged and materials can be returned through the book drops.

■ Cuomo announced on June 7 that outdoor, socially distanced graduations of up to 150 people will be allowed beginning June 26, “subject to any outbreaks or significant changes in the metrics.” Haldane High School announced it would hold two ceremonies on June 27, each with about half of the 65-member class and two guests per graduate. Beacon High School plans to screen a “virtual graduation” ceremony on June 24 at a drive-in theater in Hyde Park.

■ Cuomo said on June 13 that the state has reached the lowest number of hospitalizations and deaths since the pandemic began. The number of hospitalizations was 1,734 on Friday, its lowest level since March 20. Thirty-two people died from complications of COVID-19, down from a record-high of 800 nine weeks ago.

 ■ The governor on June 13 signed legislation repealing a law that criminalized wearing a mask in public, which conflicted with his earlier order that residents must wear face coverings to help stop the spread of COVID-19. In the state Senate, Sue Serino voted against the bill, which passed 35-27, while in the Assembly, where it passed 109-35, Democrats Sandy Galef (Philipstown) and Jonathan Jacobson (Beacon) voted for it.

 ■ In a news conference on June 9, Cuomo said that a region would only be shut down as it advances through the reopening stages if there is a spike in infections that cannot be managed through the contact tracing of those who test positive.

■ The state added racket games (badminton, pickleball, racquetball); toss/bowl games (horseshoes, bocce, bean bag toss, croquet); flying disc games (disc golf and Frisbee); shuffleboard; aerial rope courses or zip lining; rope courses; batting cages; shooting ranges; and swim classes and swim instruction to the list of recreational activities that are allowable with restrictions in place. It also said that municipalities could open public pools and playgrounds at their discretion.

■ Cuomo announced on Monday (June 8) that elective surgeries can resume at New York City hospitals.

■ The state delivered 500,000 cloth masks and 10,000 gallons and 100,000 two-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer to Metro-North. To date, New York has distributed four million free bottles of hand sanitizer statewide.

■ The governor signed an order allowing in-person special education summer schools to operate.

■ Cuomo on June 7 signed an executive order extending the absentee ballot deadline for the June 23 primary election to the day of the election. Ballots must be postmarked by June 23 to be counted.

■ Cuomo said on June 6 that places of worship will be permitted to reopen during Phase 2 with 25 percent occupancy and all social distancing protocols in place. He also said he would sign an executive order allowing office buildings to conduct temperature checks  on people entering.

■ Cuomo announced on June 4 that the state would expand the criteria that allows people to be tested to include anyone who attended a protest. See coronavirus.health.ny.gov.

■ Cuomo announced on June 3 that outdoor dining at restaurants will be permitted in Phase 2 of the state reopening plan. He said tables must be spaced 6 feet apart, all staff must wear face coverings, and customers must wear face coverings when not seated.

■ The state announced that dentists may reopen on June 1 and that summer day camps can open statewide on June 29. A decision has not been made on sleep-away camps. The state also said on June 2 that “outdoor, low-risk recreational activities and businesses providing such activities” are allowed under Phase 1.

■ The Dutchess County Agricultural Society on June 3 canceled the 175th annual Dutchess County Fair, which had been scheduled in Rhinebeck for Aug. 25 to 30. “We explored all options,” said Andy Imperati, the fair’s president and CEO. “We are heartbroken for the small businesses, family farms, competitors and exhibitors and communities who rely on the income and exposure the Dutchess County Fair brings them. We have one chance to do it right and if we cannot present the best of the best to our fair goers, then we will not do it.”

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