Oneonta Daily Star. March 5, 2021.

Editorial: Spring must be right around the corner.

Crocuses and daffodils have been seen poking out of the ground. Robins have begun to appear in local lawns. We are beginning to see warmer temperatures and clear ground.

And, unfortunately, we have had our first report a rabid animal in the area this year.

Yes, rabies can happen all year long, but it rarely reported in the depths of winter.

A person in the town of Middletown is undergoing post-exposure treatment, which involves four shots over two weeks, after being bitten by a rabid raccoon earlier this week.

Rabies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid, most often wild, animal.

The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, causing disease in the brain that leads to death, killing nearly 60,000 people around the world each year.

The early symptoms of rabies in people are similar to those of many other illnesses, including fever, headache and general weakness or discomfort, the CDC said. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, increase in saliva, difficulty swallowing and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of those symptoms.

Luckily, because of prevention measures, there are only a couple deaths each year in the United States.

While rabies cannot be prevented in wild animals, it can be in domestic animals by getting them vaccinated.

Under state law, dogs must be licensed, and to get that license, proof of rabies vaccination must be shown. Cats and ferrets, although not needing licenses in most communities, must also be vaccinated. It is also encouraged for livestock to receive rabies vaccinations.

If a domestic animal is exposed to a rabid animal and is vaccinated, a booster shot should be administered. If the animal is not, it must be placed in quarantine, at the owner’s expense, for six months or be euthanized.

While coronavirus has taken much of public health departments’ attention, local counties do offer information and advice on rabies. The counties also either offer or partner with local animal shelters to provide free pet vaccination clinics at various times throughout the year.

Veterinarians can also administer the vaccine, so if your pet is due, it is a good idea to see your vet.

If you may have come in contact with a rabid animal, or had any potential contact with bats, health officials encourage people to contact their local health department so they can be treated. By state law each county outside of New York City is required to authorize all treatment of individuals who have been exposed to the rabies virus within their county. County health agencies are also responsible for managing animal bites and exposure of domestic animals to known or suspected rabid animals.

Children should be told to tell an adult immediately if they were bitten or scratched by any animal.

When outside, people can also take steps to avoid contact with a potentially rabid animal by reporting any sick or strange-acting wildlife; not feeding wildlife or stray animals and not approaching an unknown animal, either wild or domestic, especially if it is acting in a strange or unusual manner.

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Plattsburg Press-Republican. March 4, 2021.

Editorial: Calls for governor’s resignation not unwarranted

It is no surprise that Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he will not be stepping down from office amidst a swirl of scandal, but those calling for his resignation have a legitimate case.

It would seem incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for him to effectively govern going forward with these clouds over his head.

And, if true, the allegations of both sexual harassment and covering up information surrounding nursing home deaths due to COVID-19 are egregious enough to warrant a decision to resign.

The downward trajectory for the governor is shocking to some and not so much to others.

Cuomo made headlines last year during the beginning days of the coronavirus pandemic when he held daily briefings updating the state and nation on the situation with the virus in New York State with an emphasis on New York City, then the epicenter of the pandemic.

His bold leadership was lauded in many circles and he was seen as a confident commander who was doing his best to flatten the curve and bring the virus spread under control.

Cuomo seemed especially adept when compared with President Donald Trump, who seemed to bungle the pandemic response at just about every opportunity.

But the governor just can’t help himself it seems.

Being on national television every day, and winning an Emmy because of it, wasn’t enough. He made a COVID-19 poster to tout his prowess and then wrote a book about effective management during a crisis last fall.

This type of self-promotion raised some eyebrows, but others took it in stride as something Cuomo and his ego would naturally do.

The wheels of Cuomo’s bus to stardom started falling off recently when reports came out that his administration withheld accurate figures for those who died of COVID-19 in nursing homes.

He was already taking much heat for ordering positive COVID-19 patients back to nursing homes from hospitals, although he blames a federal mandate from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the move.

Then, most recently, three women have come forward with accusations of sexual harassment against the governor. The details are startling and disturbing.

The governor has often been accused of being a bully, which likely helps many to believe the women who have come forward.

Sexual harassment by rich powerful men who prey on young women who work for them is the worst kind of behavior any leader can exhibit, and it must be terrifying for any woman to have to go through that.

The governor has since explained his actions as “insensitive or too personal,” adding that some of his comments “given my position, made other feel in ways I never intended.”

He also acknowledged that some of the things he said “have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation.”

Wednesday, he said, “I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” adding, “It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it.”

Sorry, but if true, suggesting strip poker, asking a much younger woman about her sex life and if she would be open to a relationship with an older man, cupping a woman’s face and asking to kiss her after only just meeting her, and further crossing the line by kissing a woman without her consent constitute actions that cannot be misinterpreted.

If all this is true, it is harassment and wrong, plain and simple.

Attorney General Letitia James will be leading an investigation into the governor’s conduct, and we hope it turns out nothing but the unvarnished truth.

In the meantime, the governor should really think about his future and whether he can effectively ever lead this state again.

A Cuomo-less New York will survive.

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Adirondack Daily Enterprise. March 6, 2021.

Editorial: It’s been a great winter for outdoor rec

As this pandemic winter began, we prayed that it would be a good one for outdoor recreation. It would have added insult to injury to have one of those loaded with freeze-thaw cycles, when slush and sleet are predominant. This winter, of all winters, people needed to get outside and do fun activities that can also be opportunities to socialize — socially distanced, of course.

As it turned out, it’s been an excellent winter for those things. We went two months, from Christmas to the end of February, without a significant thaw, and even last weekend’s brief warm spell immediately covered by days and inches of fluffy new snow.

Because the snow has stuck around so nicely, the railroad tracks have been a reliable highway for snowmobilers for a good long stretch; some years there isn’t enough snow to cover the rails for more than a couple of weeks.

While it has been cold enough for ice and snow, it really hasn’t been very cold — not for here, anyway. In Saranac Lake it has only very rarely dipped below minus 10. We’ve seen it get close to minus 20 but not actually hit it — not without wind chill. Typically we get several minus-20 mornings and maybe one at minus 30 each winter. And of course, those who grew up here decades will tell you — accurately, for the most part — of enduring minus-20 weather for weeks on end. We recall multi-day stretches of minus-30, and one or two Winter Carnival parades held in minus 20 in the middle of the day.

While people boast of surviving it, that kind of cold does keep people indoors — but this winter’s weather has not been a hindrance.

Snowmobilers, cross-country and downhill skiers, snowshoers and ice anglers have been out in large numbers. Stores have had trouble keeping skis in stock, and locals have gone further afield to avoid crowds. That’s because they have found themselves joined by a flood of visitors — more than ever by some accounts, despite not having Canadians. Apparently, people around the Northeast have craved a fresh-air getaway in the Adirondacks as a respite from their COVID-cramped lives.

There’s also been a wave of new people moving here. We’re glad they got a nice, fun first winter.

Activities such as skiing and ice fishing are great ways for kids and adults to get together and romp around with their friends — something that’s been hard to arrange during a pandemic. We need that.

So please, get out and enjoy it this weekend. Conditions should be perfect, with fresh snow and highs around 15 or 20, but the weather is about to change. Starting Tuesday, the forecast calls for highs in the 40s and 50s by day, and even some nights above freezing.

It’s March, after all, the time of maple sugaring season and spring skiing on the downhill slopes. Those are wonderful, too, and even though Maple Weekend activities have been canceled due to the pandemic, it’s won’t be too hard to find ways to enjoy yet another special time of the Adirondack year.

Now we all have to pray for no flooding this spring.

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Dunkirk Evening Observer. March 6, 2021.

Editorial: NEW YORK STATE: Allegations are major distraction

Ten years ago last month, Rep. Christopher Lee resigned after it was revealed the married former Congressman had been sending flirtatious emails to a woman he met on Craigslist.

When the news broke, Lee immediately resigned his post. It was the honorable thing to do. The seat was filled roughly three months after Lee’s resignation by Kathy Hochul and the business of governing could resume. Lee’s personal issues didn’t affect his constituents.

Contrast that with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a politician for whom the unflattering news just keeps coming. Three women have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment, and a report late Thursday night by The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal say the governor’s office knew the toll COVID-19 was taking in the state’s nursing homes as early as last July, when aides to the governor scrubbed the information from an allegedly non-partisan state Health Department report on the state’s response to COVID-19 in nursing homes.

The Times and Journal reported that the original drafts of the report had included the more than 9,200 deaths until Cuomo’s aides said it should be taken out. Late Thursday night, the governor’s office sent out a news release stating the information was taken out of the report because it hadn’t been properly vetted and confirmed.

That may be true, but why then the additional seven months of stonewalling to release the information? Why did it take a lawsuit for the information to be released? Legislative leaders began asking for the information in July, according to debate Thursday on the Assembly floor between Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, D-New York City, and Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, yet the Health Department told Gottfried the information didn’t exist.

Also shot to bits is the Cuomo Administration’s argument it couldn’t release the nursing home data because of a looming federal investigation. The information existed long before the Trump Administration ever hinted at an investigation.

To quote the Times article, “The back-and-forth went well beyond the usual process of the governor’s office suggesting edits to an agency report, and became”intense” at times, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions.”

Why is Christopher Lee’s situation relevant?

The state Legislature is debating nursing home legislation that is likely based on incomplete information. That information is incomplete, in part, because of the deliberate actions of Cuomo, Cuomo’s aides, and Cuomo’s hand-picked state health commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker.

Lee chose to resign because he knew constant controversy limited his ability to govern effectively. While we aren’t calling for Cuomo to resign at this time, we do wonder how effectively he can govern while also dealing with the one-two punch of sexual harassment claims and continued revelations about withholding necessary information from the public.

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Newsday. March 9, 2021. Editorial: CDC guidelines a welcome step

Spring is coming.

And we’re not just talking about the weather.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines released Monday on how fully-vaccinated residents can gather with one another and with others are welcome steps for the millions of people who’ve received their shots.

It’s an opportunity for friends who’ve been vaccinated to share a meal, or for grandparents to visit with their grandchildren, if those younger family members are at low risk for severe disease. And perhaps more importantly, it’s a chance for nearly 2 million New Yorkers, including hundreds of thousands of Long Islanders, who’ve been fully vaccinated to let go of some of the worry that’s consumed them for the last year.

But getting your shots isn’t a “get out of jail free” card. The CDC was rightly careful to note that being vaccinated doesn’t mean that it’s time to ignore all COVID-19 rules. It remains possible that vaccinated individuals could contract the coronavirus and get mild illness or be asymptomatic, and pass it on to others who aren’t vaccinated. Caution is necessary. Vaccinated individuals still should avoid large gatherings, travel only if necessary and wear a mask and distance when in public. There is still the risk another surge could take hold.

To truly emerge from the pandemic, far more people must be vaccinated. In New York, 19.4% of the population have had at least one vaccine dose. On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo appropriately began to widen eligibility requirements, allowing those 60 and over, and more essential workers, to get their shots, and loosening restrictions so every location, except for pharmacies, can provide vaccines to those eligible. That’s on top of the state’s plans to run three new sites on Long Island. All of that is promising.

But millions more who don’t yet qualify are still waiting their turn, and the CDC’s new allowances for vaccinated individuals make that wait even harder. It would help for New York to follow the lead of other states, which have put forth a timeline, by age or other categories, of when everyone can expect their shots. Connecticut, for instance, has marked March 22 as the date when those 45 and older can be vaccinated, April 12 for those 35 to 44, and May 3 for those 16 to 34 years old.

Think about the dose of optimism and certainty such a timeline would provide for New Yorkers. Added relief would come if New Yorkers could make appointments a few months out. While we understand the state’s argument that such planning should be balanced with the desire for providing accurate information, even if unforeseen circumstances required change, it’s worth doing.

This is a critical moment. The end of this horrific pandemic is in sight, but only if we handle the next weeks and months correctly and carefully. In the meantime, to our vaccinated friends, keep those around you safe, even as you enjoy those first hugs.

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