1. COVID NUMBERS IMPROVING; RESTRICTIONS LOOSENING:
We’ve been making real progress in reducing the spread of COVID-19 with the Southern Tier leading the way with the number of people vaccinated. Appointments for vaccines are easy to get, and walk-ins are being taken at state-run vaccination sites. To everyone’s credit, the number of new COVID cases in Broome County is declining, which is very good to see. On May 19, New York began adhering to CDC guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals. The CDC has advised that those fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks, with some key exceptions like mass transit or nursing homes. Those not fully vaccinated are still being advised to wear masks in social settings and some retail establishments still require that all customers wear masks.
2. AIR AMBULANCE BILL PASSES:
On March 13, area resident Travis Flanagan, was involved in a tragic farming accident. His life was saved because an air ambulance from Pennsylvania arrived on the scene. Had a helicopter from New York arrived, they would not have been able to administer blood due to an outdated state law preventing them from carrying these products. I joined with my local colleagues to co-sponsor legislation to change New York’s outdated law and attended a press conference in Albany on May 10. I’m pleased to report that this lifesaving bill passed both the Assembly and the Senate on May 24; I’m optimistic the Governor will sign it.
3. NICK DIMARIA WINS ITALIAN-AMERICAN SCHOLARSHIP:
For the third year in a row, a U-E student won one of the four scholarships offered by the New York Conference of Italian-American State Legislators, a bipartisan group of which I am a past chair. Each year, students from around the state apply for one of four college scholarships that are available; the process is very competitive. This year’s $4,000 scholarship winner, Nick DiMaria, will be attending St. John Fisher College this Fall to study pharmaceutical sciences. I was impressed by his hard work ethic, commitment to community, and leadership on his lacrosse team. I am glad to see the Conference was impressed with Nick too.
4. MEMORIAL DAY 2021:
Unlike last year, ceremonies were held around the region to recognize Memorial Day; I attended a beautiful event in Johnson City. It was nice to see people of all ages come together to recognize the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. In the Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln said that “from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion…”. Memorial Day is our opportunity to honor and pay respects to their memory and to the causes they fought for.
5. SURPLUS FOOD FEEDS FELLOW NEW YORKERS:
We witnessed our food supply chain come under enormous stress last year. As Chair of the Agriculture Committee, I’ve been working on policy initiatives to address vulnerabilities that were exposed and to strengthen New York’s food economy. We recently passed legislation I co-sponsored making the Nourish New York program permanent. We created Nourish NY at the height of the pandemic in order to move food (produced for commercial establishments and schools) to pantries across the state. Many local food banks benefited from this program which served as a vital lifeline to farmers and those in need of food assistance.