New York reports first coronavirus deaths
NEW YORK, FINGER LAKES (AP, Staff reports) -- New York state on Saturday reported its first two deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, elderly victims who authorities said both had underlying medical conditions.
The news came as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has now said that more than 950 New Yorkers have been diagnosed so far with COVID-19.
"It has already spread much more than you know," Cuomo said on a conference call with reporters.
The virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough for most people. However, for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
Cuomo said the death of the 82-year-old underscored the "grave situation" involving people with underlying respiratory conditions who contract the coronavirus.
New York's outbreak was initially centered around a community in New Rochelle, a small city in the Westchester County suburbs. Many have been members of one religious congregation or friends and neighbors of a lawyer who commuted into Manhattan.
In recent days, though, cases have been diagnosed around the state, however still not in Yates or Schuyler Counties.
The state of New York, as well as Yates, Schuyler and Steuben Counties, have declared a state of emergency.
The spread of the virus has prompted colleges and universities in New York to cancel in-person classes and move to online instruction, or to temporarily close entirely.
Museums and other tourist attractions have closed.
Area schools have closed through April 13. School activities have been canceled or postponed as well, including school sports, plays and athletics.
Grocery stores throughout the Finger Lakes are experiencing runs on basic items such as toilet paper, canned goods and water as the concern surrounding the novel coronavirus worldwide pandemic spreads. The Tops Supermarket in Penn Yan was completely cleared of all its toilet paper as early as Thursday, March 12 while smaller local grocers faced similar shortages.
Bruce Morgan, owner of Morgan's Grocery Store in Penn Yan, said Friday, March 13 consumer concern surrounding the coronavirus has reminded him of a different mother-nature induced event.
"It reminds you of a blizzard, when people stock up and this is sort of having the same effect," Morgan said.
Morgan said that customers are mostly buying meat since that is what he specializes in but that he has also seen a run on his toilet paper, paper towels and sanitizer.
"People are behaving while shopping; my son was in Rochester the other day and he said he saw people fighting over the last couple packages of toilet paper," Morgan said.
In Schuyler County, the Tops Supermarket and the Watkins Glen Wal-Mart were completely cleared out of toilet paper and wet wipes on Saturday, March 14.
Nearly all events throughout the region have been canceled or rescheduled as well.
Officials at the Harbor Hotel in Watkins Glen are bracing themselves for the possibility of having to reschedule events and an increasing number of cancellations as the coronavirus continues to spread.
"We have had some cancellations and we are actively working with some other groups to reschedule to different dates. We have had quite a few cancellations because our guests come from all over the world and travel is difficult right now," said Lisa Conarton, assistant general manager at the Harbor Hotel on Friday, March 13. As it pertains to events and group gatherings, which includes weddings, Conarton said that the hotel would evaluate things on a case-by-case basis.
"Weddings don't start until the summer and fall, and so we haven't had any inquiries on that yet. Potentially we will have to move events to different times. Everything will be evaluated on a case by case basis and if groups need to reschedule we are working with them to do so. We are trying our best to accommodate everyone and make sure everyone is safe and healthy as possible," Conarton said.