State to ease capacity limits for businesses and gatherings
■ State health officials said that, as of Tuesday (May 4), 10,461 (+5 from the day before) people had tested positive for COVID-19 in Putnam County; 28,850 (+34) in Dutchess; 128,153 (+87) in Westchester; 46,446 (+58) in Rockland; 13,596 (+20) in Ulster; and 47,437 (+47) in Orange. Statewide, there have been 2,045,904 (+2,463) positives, including 919,049 (+1,105) in New York City. For the latest numbers, click here.
■ For vaccine updates, click here.
■ Statewide, 42,161 (+31) people had died as of May 4, including 91 (+0) residents of Putnam County and 442 (+0) from Dutchess.
■ Beacon had 18 active cases as of May 3 and Putnam had 77 as of April 30, with 2 active cases in Philipstown, 27 in Carmel, 7 in Kent, 16 in Patterson, 10 in Putnam Valley and 15 in Southeast. Six people were hospitalized at Putnam Hospital in Carmel.
■ In Dutchess County, there were 2,708 tests conducted on May 4 and 34 positives reported, and in Putnam, there were 561 tests and 5 positives reported. The percentage of positive results in the Mid-Hudson Region was 1.5 percent.
■ Dutchess had conducted 709,053 tests as of May 4 and had 4.1 percent positives, while Putnam had conducted 217,393 tests and had 4.8 percent positives.
■ Statewide, there were 165,597 tests conducted on May 4 and 2,463 positives, or 1.49 percent.
■ The number of people with COVID-19 who are hospitalized in New York state as of May 4 stood at 2,458 (-115); the number in intensive care was 610 (-15); and the number of intubations was 379 (-2). In the Mid-Hudson Valley, 46 percent of hospital beds were available and 4o percent of ICU beds.
■ The Small Business Administration is now accepting applications for its Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which provides up to $10 million per business, and no more than $5 million per physical location, for COVID-19-related losses. The funds do not have to be repaid as long as they are used for eligible expenses by March 11, 2023. To apply visit the program’s application portal.
■ New York, Connecticut and New Jersey will be easing capacity restrictions on businesses and outdoor and indoor gatherings beginning May 19, said Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday (May 3) in a joint announcement with the governors for those states. The new limits are:
- Businesses: Instead of a percentage-capacity restriction, businesses will only be limited by the space available for customers to maintain 6 feet of social distancing. The change will affect businesses ranging retailers, restaurants and gyms to barbershops and hair salons.
- Indoor/outdoor gatherings: The indoor limit will increase from 100 to 250 people. The outdoor residential gathering limit of 25 will revert to the social gathering limit of 500, with space for appropriate social distancing, and the indoor residential gathering limit will increase to 50 from 10 people. Gatherings exceeding the limits are allowed if all attendees give proof of full vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test.
- Indoor/outdoor events: Large-scale indoor event venues can operate at 30 percent capacity, up from the current 10 percent capacity, and large-scale outdoor venues can operate at 33 percent. Social distancing, masks and other health protocols will still apply, including the requirement that attendees give proof of full vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test result.
■ Indoor dining in New York City can expand to 75 percent capacity starting May 7, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Friday (April 30). Cuomo also said that hair salons, barbershops and other personal care businesses can expand to 75 percent capacity beginning the same day and that New York City gyms and fitness centers can expand to 50 percent capacity beginning May 15.
■ The midnight curfew for bars and restaurants will end on May 17 for outdoor areas and on May 31 for indoor areas, Cuomo said on Wednesday (April 28).
■ Putnam’s five new cases on Tuesday (April 26) represented the county’s lowest daily tally since Nov. 2, and its 1.3 percent positivity rate the lowest since Oct. 27. Dutchess’ 39 new cases on Tuesday was the county’s lowest daily count since Feb. 2.
■ The cap on spectators at large-scale 0utdoor venues, including professional and college sports stadiums, will rise to 33 percent from 20 percent starting May 19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday (April 26). The state also is raising capacity limits on:
- Casinos and gaming facilities, to 50 percent from 25 percent beginning May 15.
- Offices, to 75 percent from 50 percent beginning May 15.
- Gyms/fitness centers outside New York City, to 50 percent from 33 beginning May 15.
■ Dutchess County averaged 62 new positives a day for the 7-day period ending Saturday (April 23), compared to 92 the previous week. Putnam averaged 23 new cases a day for the week ending Saturday, compared to 31 the previous 7-day period.
■ New York’s 7-day positivity rate stood at 2.57 percent as of Wednesday (April 21), the lowest rate since Nov. 1, according to the state.
■ Active cases in Dutchess stood at 931 as of Friday (April 16), the county’s first time below 1,000 since March 9 and the lowest daily total of active cases since 878 on Feb. 17.
■ Putnam County’s average daily positivity rate (the percentage of daily tests confirmed for COVID-19) fell by a full percentage point for the 7-day period ending Friday (April 16), to 3.8 percent compared to 4.8 percent for the week ending April 8. Dutchess County averaged 4.2 percent for both 7-day periods.
■ New York’s Office of Children and Family Services is now accepting applications from essential workers and first responders for the state’s Empire Pandemic Response Reimbursement Fund, which has $26.6 million in grants available to reimburse workers for out-of-pocket expenses incurred during the pandemic. Households earning up to 500 percent of the federal poverty level, $125,470 for a family of four, are eligible to apply for up to $1,000 for expenses like child care, lodging and transportation. Visit the fund’s website for more information.
■ The Fishkill Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Beacon had not had a resident test positive for COVID-19 in 115 days as of Thursday (April 22), according to data posted on the facility’s website. The nursing home also had gone 50 days without a staff member testing positive case. Overall, the Fishkill Center has had 80 residents and 88 staff test positive, and 14 residents die from COVID-19.
■ An average of 963 people a day have been getting COVID-19 tests in Putnam County this month, as of Friday (April 9), compared to 808 tests a day in March and 857 in February. The county averaged 1,039 in January, during the height of pandemic’s second wave in New York state.
■ Payments made to families through the Metropolitan Transportation Authority COVID-19 death benefit program will be exempt from state taxes as part of the newly approved budget for the 2022 fiscal year, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Friday (April 9). Started in April 2020, the program has approved $62 million in payments to families of MTA employees who died of COVID-19, said Cuomo.
■ A 23-member Essential Workers Advisory Committee will oversee the design, locating and construction of a monument to honor the service of essential workers during the pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday (April 6). The monument will be built in New York City and be dedicated to essential workers in 17 categories: nurses, doctors, hospital staff, teachers, transport workers, police, ambulance/EMT, firefighters, corrections, sanitation, National Guard, store employees, government employees, building service workers, utility workers, delivery drivers and construction / manufacturing.
■ The Beacon Bread Co. at 193 Main St. is closed “until further notice” due to a possible COVID-19 exposure, the store announced via Facebook on Monday (April 5). “We will keep you updated as we take all proper precautions to ensure we safely open back up, including clearing our staff with negative test result,” the post said. [It reopened on April 10.]
■ Split Rock Books in Cold Spring said that it will mark Independent Bookstore Day on April 24 with a return to walk-in browsing, initially just on Saturdays. Leading up to that day, the store will test-drive walk-ins on select weekdays, to be announced on its Instagram page. Customers will be required to wear mask and only eight will be allowed in at one time. Split Rock also said the decision is contingent on a continued decline in COVID-19 cases.
■ As of April 21, according to the State COVID Report Card, Haldane had reported 35 students and 14 teachers/staff who had tested positive; Garrison reported 13 students and seven teachers/staff; and Beacon reported 99 students and 45 teachers/staff. Among private schools, Manitou School in Philipstown reported six students and 1 teacher/staff as of April 6 and Hudson Hills Academy in Beacon reported zero students and 1 teacher/staff as of April 20.
■ The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will begin taking applications on April 12 for assistance with COVID-19-related funeral expenses up to $9,000 incurred after Jan. 20, 2020. In addition to providing a death certificate attributing the death to COVID-19, applicants must be a U.S. citizens, non-citizen national or qualified alien, according to FEMA. There is no legal requirement that the deceased be a U.S. citizen. More information can be found here.
■ Colleges can resume allowing spectators to sports events on April 2, with capacity limited to 10 percent at indoor venues holding 1,500 or more and 20 percent at outdoor venues holding 2,500 or more. Attendees will have to provide proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test or full vaccination. Smaller college venues used for intercollegiate, intramural or club sports will be limited to 2 fans per player, 100 people indoors or 200 outdoors, but can expand to 150 indoors or 500 outdoors if attendees give proof of a negative test or vaccination.
■ Hudson Beach Glass in Beacon plans to reopen on April 10, according to a post on the company’s Facebook page on March 29. Its staff will be fully vaccinated, mask and social-distancing policies will be enforced, and the number of people allowed inside will be limited, said the company.
■ New York is extending the open enrollment period for its health insurance exchange to May 15. Residents needing coverage can find plans and enroll at NY State of Health, call 1-855-355-5777 or contact a free enrollment assister. Residents eligible for Medicaid, the Essential Plan and Child Health Plus can enroll year-round.
■ The governor extended his state of emergency order through May 27, allowing public meetings to continue to be held remotely.
■ Indoor family entertainment centers and places of amusement can open at 25 percent capacity beginning March 26, and outdoor amusement parks can open at 33 percent capacity beginning April 9, Cuomo said on Feb. 17. Each site will have to submit reopening plans and health protocols to local health departments. Cuomo also said that day and overnight summer camps in can begin planning for reopening.
■ The federal government extended a temporary moratorium for most evictions until May 31. To be eligible, renters must have experienced a “substantial” loss of household income, a layoff or “extraordinary” out-of-pocket medical expenses and can’t expect to earn more than $99,000 in 2020 (or $198,000 for married people filing their tax returns jointly). A declaration form is required.
■ The state has established a COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline at 844-863-9314 for mental health counseling and resources. Health care workers can text NYFRONTLINE to 741-741 to access 24/7 emotional support services. For more information see omh.ny.gov.
What If I Feel Sick?
You’re feeling ill, with a cough, fever, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. What should you do?
“It’s important to emphasize that the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 remains low,” the Putnam Hospital Center advises patients on its website. “Most infected people will experience mild upper respiratory symptoms.
“Some people, including the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes and heart disease, are at greater risk and may require more intensive care and/or hospitalization.”
If you feel ill, the hospital says the first step is to contact your doctor. Many offer “virtual” visits by teleconference. If you visit your doctor’s office or an urgent care, call first to let them know of your symptoms. Only go to the emergency department or call 911 if you are in urgent distress, and let the dispatcher know that you may have been exposed to COVID-19.
If your doctor believes you have COVID-19, he or she can order a test, which allows you to make an appointment by phone at a drive-thru facility. At the facility, a sample will be collected and sent for testing.
For general questions about COVID-19, Putnam Hospital Center operates a hotline staffed by nurses daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 888-667-9262. A representative for the hospital said that most callers (1) ask about symptoms and what to do if exposed to someone who has COVID-19; (2) believe they have symptoms, in which case they are referred to their doctor; or (3) ask how they can donate equipment such as masks, anti-bacterial soap and, in one case, a pediatric ventilator.
The hospital has a list of commonly asked questions and responses posted at nuvancehealth.org. The state Department of Health also has a hotline at 888-364-3065 that is open around the clock to answer general questions or for information about testing sites.
■ Questions? Dutchess County posts updates at dutchessny.gov and has a hotline at 845-486-3555. Putnam County posts info at putnamcountyny.com. New York State has a hotline at 888-364-3065 and a webpage at coronavirus.health.ny.gov, which is also where you can find a testing site. The state also created an email list to provide updates. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posts updates at cdc.gov.