If there was ever a time for Tioga County residents to pull together, it is now. On Nov. 7, the county reported 277 active cases and another fatality, bringing that total to 41, to date. By the time of this reporting on Thursday there were 283 active cases reported, bringing the confirmed total to 925, to date, and 46 fatalities.
Because of the rise in case numbers, Governor Andrew Cuomo designated portions of Tioga County as a yellow-zone focus area, and specifically in Waverly, N.Y.
According to the governor’s office, the positivity rate in Tioga County on Nov. 11 was 16.67 percent; it was 15.79 percent the day before. This pushed Tioga County into a precautionary zone.
As far as restrictions, and in an effort to bring down the positivity rate, areas in this designation can only put four people at a table in restaurants, churches can operate at 50 percent capacity, and non-essential gatherings are capped at 25 people. Schools can remain open, but must test 20 percent of their students, faculty, and staff. Businesses can remain open.
Aside from these restrictions, Governor Cuomo made a bold move last week when he pushed even further with restrictions, and in an effort to slow the increase in spread that is being seen across the state.
Beginning on Friday, the governor mandated that bars, restaurants, and gyms or fitness centers must close from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily. Restaurants can provide curbside food-only after 10 p.m., but will not be permitted to serve alcohol to go. Governor Cuomo is also limiting indoor and outdoor gatherings at private residences to ten people, and in an attempt to limit spread as Thanksgiving nears.
“If you look at where the cases are coming from, if you do the contact tracing, you’ll see they’re coming from three main areas: establishments where alcohol is served, gyms, and indoor gatherings at private homes,” Governor Cuomo said on Tuesday.
To help clarify the restrictions announced by the governor, Tioga County’s Legislative Chair, Martha Sauerbrey, outlined things.
According to Sauerbrey, last call at bars must take place at 10 p.m., and this applies to social clubs such as the Elks, American Legion and others; this also applies to restaurants without liquor licenses. Twenty-four hour establishments such as diners may reopen at 5 a.m., she added.
Legislator Sauerbrey also noted that these restrictions apply to casinos, and noted that the floor operation must close at 10 p.m., not just the bars and restaurants.
She urged residents to take precaution during this period of community spread, and to wear a mask, wash your hands, and follow the social distancing protocols while the health department and other officials work to bring the numbers down.
Public Health Notifications have also been issued throughout the week, noting a case at New Image Fitness Center on Nov. 4, Cardinal Lanes in Newark Valley on Oct. 31, and Original’s in Owego on Nov. 2. These are cases where an individual was present that tested positive for COVID-19 during a specific time period.
For more information on how to stay protected or where to get tested, visit covid19.tiogacountyny.com, or Tioga County Public Health on Facebook.
In other county news, a budget hearing was held on Tuesday to review the proposed County budget for 2021. This year’s budget remained under the tax cap, according to Chair Sauerbrey, coming in at a proposed tax levy of 1.19 percent.
To view more on the budget, visit www.tiogacountyny.com.