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Corona Virus Update with 1 Confirmed Case in the State: Officials Quell Fears, say Testing is Key


New York Government and Health officials are trying to quell any fears people have now that there is a confirmed case of Corona Virus in the state.  The state continues to issue advice and updates on COVID-19 in New York. 

New York saw this coming.  State health officials, Governor Cuomo and others say the state knew not only would Corona Virus show up here, it’s bound to start spreading, even to those not directly connected to travel to affected countries.  While acknowledging the confirmed case in New York City, Mayor Bill DeBlasio says the response early on was to not hide or downplay … what he calls ‘Anti-China.”

“We have told new Yorkers from the beginning, ‘get ready; here it comes; we’re gonna all be ready to deal with it together.’ New Yorkers do not scare easily, do not intimidate easily.  Second, we’ve said, ‘if you have the symptoms, and have any nexus to the nations where the issue is profound at this point, get health care.’  Guess what, people have bee doing that.”  

Onondaga County plans update on local actions re: Corona virus Wednesday

The person with the virus is in self-care, quarantined at home.  Cuomo emphasizes most cases in the U.S. and other countries take care of themselves if the person stays isolated.  He says the key to that is testing to find out, then quickly acting on that test to minimize any risk.  And that’s what he’s ordering the state to do.

“I would like to have a goal of 1000 tests-per-day capacity within one week, because … the more testing the better.  Once you can test and find a person who is positive, then you can isolate that person so they don’t infect additional people.”

He's trying to downplay fears by noting the mortality rate has dropped to about 1.4% of confirmed cases, and that’s extrapolating data from other countries, where health care is much worse. 

“In this situation, the facts defeat fear.  First of all, this is not our first rodeo with this type of situation in New York.  (In) 1968 we had the Hong Kong flu, in 2008 we had the Swine flu, where we actually closed like 100 schools, Avian flu, Ebola, SARS, MERS, Measles, so we have gone through this before.”

Cuomo says a key development was getting federal approval to conduct testing, paving the way to quicker identification, care and isolation of Coronavirus or Covid-19 disease cases. 


SU Chancellor Kent Syverud sent the following message to the campus community.  He emphasizes the ongoing preparations and precautions, as well as concerns about stigma for those wearing masks.  He notes those from other countries might wear masks as a general precaution, as they do at home, and cannot be considered to be sick or infected with the corona virus

Syracuse University has already taken a number of steps to respond to and prepare for the possible spread of the virus. These actions include suspending our academic program in Florence; implementing travel restrictions to Italy, Korea and China; and convening a Universitywide task force to prepare for the possibility of coronavirus making its way to our campus. Effective immediately, we are taking additional actions to strengthen our preparedness. Our most critical partners in the face of a potential novel coronavirus pandemic will be the Onondaga County Health Department and the New York State Department of Health. Under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s leadership, the state is acting boldly to activate and resource preparedness across agencies and partners. Accordingly, later this morning, I will travel to Albany to meet directly with senior leaders from the SUNY system, the New York State Education Department (NSYED), the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Legislature to discuss policies and best practices supporting a coordinated and collaborative coronavirus response plan for Syracuse University. We must also acknowledge that Syracuse University is but one member of an interconnected network of educational and health care institutions in Central New York. For that reason, on Thursday, Feb. 27, Syracuse University convened the first meeting of a coalition of area institutions—including SUNY-ESF, Crouse Hospital, SUNY Upstate Medical Center, the Onondaga County Health Department and others—who have committed to work collaboratively to prepare for a wide variety of novel coronavirus response scenarios and prevention initiatives. The University has directed all abroad centers to develop an operational plan in the event additional academic programs need to urgently and with limited notice suspend operations and assist students with relocation or return to campus. Steve Bennett, senior vice president for international programs and academic operations, and Erika Wilkens, associate provost and executive director of Syracuse Abroad, are working closely with center directors to prepare these contingency plans, which will include how to operationalize them quickly. The University is asking all students, faculty and staff to review the CDC anti-stigma guidelines issued recently regarding coronavirus. The CDC advises that we collectively focus on the disease that is causing the problem and avoid casting blame on individuals, cultures or nationalities. For example, as we have reported on multiple occasions, if you see an individual wearing a protective mask on campus that does not mean the individual is sick, but likely taking extra precautions to protect themselves. This is common in many countries and cultures and should not be ridiculed, judged or stigmatized. Lastly, out of an abundance of caution, the University has initiated reasonable preparations to ensure academic and operational continuity in the event the institution is required to suspend residential operations for some period of time prior to the end of the spring semester. For that reason, Interim Provost John Liu and I have asked the Syracuse University Center for Online and Digital Learning—in collaboration with the schools, colleges and Information Technology Services—to develop an actionable plan that will allow our faculty to engage students in distance learning to meet course contact hour requirements and learning objectives that have not been completed if it becomes necessary to suspend residential learning. While at this time we do not have any indications that such a response will be required, it’s my strong belief that we are obligated to take action now to ensure our students are afforded every opportunity to complete their spring semester academic coursework should public health concerns preclude normal operations. This proactive preparation is not intended to alarm anyone. However, it has become clear that we must be ready to deploy a strategy that takes into account the health and safety of our community as well as the academic obligations we have to our students. We will continue to communicate action we are taking while also advising on new guidance issued by the CDC and other key agencies.

This story has been updated with copy corrections. 

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.