County cases at 2; Health Dept., SUNY Cortland, U.N. plead for self-quarantine

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Cortland County remained at 2, as of this afternoon, according to the Public Health Department.

Department staff sent out three pleas over social media today, asking residents to stay home to stop the spread of the new COVID-19 virus.

There are 29 County residents who are being monitored after taking a COVID-19 test and were asked to quarantine themselves, the department noted. But not all are obeying the quarantine guidelines, according to the department.

According to a 5:45 p.m. release on the Public Health Department’s Facebook page, health officials are aware high-risk individuals are ignoring doctors’ orders to maintain a quarantine but cannot act to stop them.

The best approach is for others to address this directly with those they may know who are not following these orders,” according to the department’s release. “Anyone who is concerned about the exposure to high-risk people should feel empowered to address the noncompliant individual and ask them to stay home.”

SUNY Cortland also asked students returning to area on- and off-campus housing to stay home and not party.

In an email to students, Vice President for Student Affairs Greg Sharer warned against attending or hosting indoor and outdoor gatherings. Students are also to stay away from vulnerable populations, Sharer said.

“Students choosing to ignore these health and safety directives may be charged through the student conduct process and could face immediate suspension from SUNY Cortland,” Sharer warned and underlined. "We take these restrictions very seriously, and so should you.”

Sharer stated these steps are necessary to protect Cortland community members, as well as students’ friends and family.

A link to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “PAUSE” declaration — that includes orders against all unnecessary social gatherings, indoors and outdoors — was also included in the email.

As we continue to work together to slow the spread of the coronavirus,” Sharer wrote, “it is important that all SUNY Cortland students who remain in Cortland understand their responsibility as residents of the greater Cortland community, and the expectations that come with it.”

The United Nation's World Health Organization also issued impassioned pleas to government leaders and countries’ citizens in its published briefing today in Geneva.

The pandemic is accelerating,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO. “It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach the first 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000 cases and just 4 days for the third 100,000 cases. You can see how the virus is accelerating.”

Ghebreyesus urged countries to increase testing and quarantining, up the production of medical protection gear, such as gowns and masks, and to prioritize the distribution of the gear to doctors, nurses and other medical staff.

“We continue to hear alarming reports from around the world of large numbers of infections among health workers,” Ghebreyesus said. “Even if we do everything else right, if we don’t prioritize protecting health workers, many people will die because the health worker who could have saved their life is sick.”

Ghebreyesus urged individuals to practice social distancing and self-quarantine to allow health care systems time to respond to the pandemic.

“Asking people to stay at home and other physical distancing measures are an important way of slowing down the spread of the virus and buying time…” Ghebreyesus said.

WHO also encouraged hygienic practices in a new video featuring professional soccer players describing the importance of “...hand washing, coughing etiquette, not touching your face, physical distance and staying home if feeling unwell.” The video features 28 FIFA players and is being published in 13 languages.