As a disclaimer, my name is Christina Sonsire. I am the author of the Chemung County Matters blog, an information-sharing site I created in December 2017.
The information in this post is true to the best of my knowledge and is based on what I have learned both firsthand from local officials and by closely following the news about the global pandemic. Please excuse me if it is inaccurate or outdated in any way.
How can I get tested for COVID-19?
This is a question I have been asked many times over the past two weeks, and I have seen a number of posts on social media describing concerns about how testing is being undertaken in Chemung County.
Contrary to the notion that everyone who wants a test can get one, it is critical to recognize that there are not enough tests…not enough tests here, in New York City, in the United States or in the world. Companies across the globe are working hard to develop a rapid test to scale that would allow widespread testing, but the capacity simply does not exist right now.
A report published yesterday on NPR, found here and embedded below, speaks to the overwhelming demand for tests across the United States.
In Chemung County we are fortunate to have avoided the very serious problems with COVID-19 being experienced downstate – at least for now. As a result, the tests in New York are being rationed to places in our state that need them most. Nearby Ithaca has received a larger number of tests and was able to set up a drive-by test site due to the high number of residents who were likely to have traveled internationally and to major urban centers in the first three months of 2019.
In general, the criteria in Chemung County to get a test requires that a person have a fever and/or be in need of acute care such as hospitalization. If you feel you should be tested, please contact your primary care provider. If you do not have a primary care provider, please contact the Chemung County Health Department’s hotline at 607-873-1813. Residents are advised to avoid seeking care at an Emergency Department unless you feel you require acute emergency care.
As we have heard countless times by now, the best advice we can follow is to STAY HOME unless it is essential to leave. Things like going for walks and outdoor exercise are fine for now as long as a distance of six feet is maintained between all persons who do not reside in the same household.
How can I learn about the number of COVID-19 cases in Chemung County?
Chemung County Executive Chris Moss and Chemung County Health Department Director Pete Buzzetti are working very hard to keep the public informed about this developing crisis.
The Chemung County Health Department’s website, found here, is updated each day at 10:00 am and 7:00 pm with statistics about what is happening here in Chemung County.
As of 7:00 pm on April 2nd, we have 17 positive cases, two residents are hospitalized, and 107 tests are still pending. On occasion there are small discrepancies between what Chemung County and N.Y. state government are reporting, primarily because hospitals report their positive findings directly to N.Y. state government and then Chemung County follows up to verify that the patient actually lives in our community as opposed to simply having been tested here.
Moss and Buzzetti have been conducting live-stream question-and-answer sessions each Friday evening through Chemung County’s website, found here. To the best of my knowledge they will provide an update tomorrow. I will share information as soon as I have it.
Finally, Moss’ Facebook page, found here, is a great source of updated information.
How can I get help for my business?
Many large and small businesses in Chemung County are hurting. There are several ways to get help:
Chemung County Recovery Business Recovery Unit
Chemung County Business Recovery Unit will attempt to:
- Create an outreach initiative to local businesses advising them of the types of assistance currently being offered;
- Provide guidance in applying for various grants and loans offered at the state and federal government;
- Assist businesses on ideas moving to an online E-Commerce platform; and
- Provide assistance involving how to access various state and federal resources.
The unit’s website provides links to many other sources of help for businesses, including:
New York State Empire State Development Covid-19 related resources can be located at https://esd.ny.gov/esd-covid-19-related-resources
U.S. Small Business Administration Guidance and Loan Resources https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide up to date information for businesses and employers on how to plan and respond to the varying effects of the Coronavirus in the workplace. For a complete list of services and guidance please visit:
Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to plan and respond to Coronavirus Disease
Southern Tier Economic Growth
Southern Tier Economic Growth (STEG) has also created an excellent page to help local businesses access available aid for COVID-19 related losses, found here.
How significantly can we expect Chemung County’s finances to be impacted by COVID-19?
This is the million dollar question…or, more realistically, the many millions of dollars question.
The bottom line is that we, like everyone else, can expect to take a major hit. According to an excerpt from a New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) press release published on April 1st and found here, New York state is projected to lose between $10 and $15 billion, as opposed to between $4 and 7 billion that had been predicted just last week.
The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) today updated a report detailing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on county governments, stating that NY’s regional governments are now looking at a potential $2 billion loss in revenues. The report can be found here: Coronavirus Economic Impact: County Sales Tax Revenue Projections.
The report’s re-release comes after the state has re-estimated its projected loss of revenues, and also as State Leaders negotiate the final terms of the 2021 State Budget. Two weeks ago, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s predicted a $4 to $7 billion loss in state revenue. Today, the Governor said that loss is estimated to now be between $10 and $15 billion. The fiscal theory applies to local government.
“These revenue forecasts are very troubling for local governments and property taxpayers,” said NYSAC President John F. (Jack) Marren, Chairman of the Ontario County Board of Supervisors. “Counties are on the front lines executing this public health state of emergency, while the state manages it and the federal government supports it financially. We’ve never seen anything like this, ever. Our personnel is exhausted, our resources are scarce, but our spirit to defeat this silent enemy remains strong.”
NYSAC’s report covered two economic impact scenarios: one with mild recession and a quick recovery, and the second assumes a more severe and prolonged recession. Based on the most recent projections at the state level, the range of impact has doubled to a $2 billion loss in local sales tax revenue. The report’s estimates do not account for the local workforce related revenue losses, and the costs associated with responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A copy of the report can be found here and is embedded below.
I hope you all stay safe, remain positive, and that we find ourselves moving on to happier days soon.