Below are the Top 5 items from October 2020
1. BROOME COUNTY REMAINS IN “YELLOW ZONE” CLUSTER:
As new cases of COVID-19 have remained relatively low statewide, we unfortunately continue to see a steady, higher infection rate locally. According to recent information released by the State, New York has an average (over the past seven days) positivity rate of just under 1.5%; by comparison, Broome County’s average is an alarming 6.75% – the second-highest seven-day average in the state (Chemung County is first). As a result, parts of the County remain in a “yellow zone” since being designated on October 7th. There are now new restrictions and mandatory testing at certain schools. We had done an excellent job of slowing the spread of COVID, but complacency and COVID fatigue have set us back. The goal is to turn this around so we don’t wind up in an orange or red zone, which carry much stricter guidelines. Please do all you can following all the safety guidelines.
The Broome County “Yellow Zone” Map
2. ECONOMIC RECOVERY CABINET WORKING TO “BUILD BACK BETTER”:
Second only to the health and safety of the community, recovering from the economic slowdown is a top priority. As our economy reopens, the Leadership Alliance, the official name of the partnership between the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce and the Agency/Broome County IDA, convened an Economic Recovery Cabinet comprised of businesses, nonprofits, government representatives, and members of academia. As a member of this cabinet, I’ve participated in regular meetings to discuss our economic recovery, and we can “build back better.” This past Wednesday, the Cabinet hosted an Economic Recovery Town Hall. Topics included public health and business recovery, as well as discussions on education, food insecurity and supply chain issues, mental health, broadband access and childcare. Click here to watch Wednesday’s Town Hall.
3. RALLYING FOR THE RELEASE OF CARES ACT FUNDING:
Nonprofits throughout the state were already operating on shoestring budgets prior to the pandemic and are now facing the very real possibility of cuts to critical programs and services. On October 21st, we held a virtual press conference calling on the Governor to release CARES Act funding that nonprofits need right now. As the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, I highlighted the growing plight of hunger across the state. Prior to COVID-19 approximately 1.2 million New Yorkers were food insecure; that number is now closer to two million. Additional funding is needed for food banks, food pantries and the successful Nourish NY program that connected NY farmers to those in need. Our letter to Governor can be read here.
Assemblyman Lupardo participates in a virtual press conference calling for the release of CARES Act funding.
4. LEGISLATION AWAITING GOVERNOR’S APPROVAL WILL HELP PROTECT FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN:
In addition to an increase in hunger, the COVID-19 pandemic also exposed weaknesses in our state and national food supply chains. In July, the Legislature passed a bill I introduced that would help strengthen our food supply chain. The legislation creates a work group comprised of representatives from farming, food processing, retail, foodservice, food banks, and others. On October 22nd, I discussed this with the Capitol Pressroom’s Dave Lombardo. We are waiting on action from the Governor on this bill, which I hope will come soon. There is no reason we should ever experience the bottlenecks in processing and distribution that occurred this year. It was frustrating to see these supply chain weaknesses cause food to be disposed of while food pantries and grocery stores struggled to keep up.
5. KOPERNIK OFFICIALLY OPENS ITS LONG-AWAITED SCIENCE PARK:
After years of work to plan, fund-raise, and build, Kopernik Observatory & Science Center finally launched its long-awaited Science Park. On October 22nd, I participated in a virtual ribbon cutting for the new playground. Efforts to add a park to the Kopernik campus started more than five years ago; more than $600,000 in donations, as well as a $200,000 Regional Economic Development Council grant helped fund the project. The Junior League spearheaded the project, which in addition to swings and jungle gym equipment, includes interactive science lessons throughout. Although the Observatory and Science Center are temporarily closed because of COVID-19, the playground is now open. Kopernik’s staff ask that masks be worn at all times and social distancing be practiced when visiting the park. To read more click here.
The new Kopernik Science Park.