IMPORTANT UPDATE 3/4 2020 8:50 PM
BREAKING NEWS: Students From High Risk Countries
To Be Brought To Stewart Airport
New Windsor Supervisor George Meyers spoke to the concerns at the regular Town Board Meeting this evening. He said he has been in meetings with Police Chief Doss and all emergency medical care personnel today to make sure that all safety precautions possible will be taken. He continued, “We are staying very much on top of this (both within the town and up and down the information chain from Albany to Orange County). It may be one plane. It may be that the students are transported directly to Air National Guard, away from the main terminal. There was some talk about quarantine happening in Cornwall, but it is all still fluid. But be assured we are staying on top of this. If it is necessary we will make plenty of noise.”
Assemblyman Schmitt also emphasized that the situation is still very fluid. He said that the current estimate of students expected at New York Stewart International Airport is 300. More updates are expected tomorrow.
With 10 cases identified in New York, mostly in Westchester, precautions should be taken seriously. While mortality is only about 3.4 percent, the statistics may be misleading since definitive test kits are only now becoming widely available. Coronavirus appears to be very communicable, for example, one of the Westchester cases occurring after driving his neighbor to the hospital. His wife and 3 children then became ill as well.
Assemblyman Colin Schmitt notified area officials and news media on Wednesday that efforts are being made to protect the safety of all residents of the 99th Assembly District and State of New York in regards to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak. This morning Governor Cuomo has recalled all SUNY and CUNY students studying abroad in Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan and China to New York where they will land and be screened at New York Stewart International Airport.
Extra precautions are being recommended throughout Orange County, from all directions, including Newburgh Free School District’s Superintendent Robert Padilla who sent a letter to the homes of all students listing precautionary measures. Orange County officials have advised that all individuals who have not had a flu shot or who usually do not get them, would be well to get one ASAP. It won’t protect against coronavirus, but by protecting against this year’s regular flu variety it will help prevent challenges to their immune system that could make them more susceptible to coronavirus.
The present plan is that recalled students will be flown into Stewart, will be screened for medical symptoms and then under the current plan they will be transported by charter buses to quarantine locations closest to their home campus where they will be held for 14 days. Schmitt emphasized several times that the situation is still very fluid…with decisions still to be made and possible changes.
With the laws of unintended consequences, the screening will have to be done in a way that protects both airport workers and other travelers as well as those doing the screening, those transporting those who have been checked for symptoms, and those at the places where quarantine will occur. Will they be checked only for obvious symptoms, or with an official coronavirus test? What kind of protective clothing will screeners and airport personnel in contact with them wear? How will they be kept separate from others at the airport? How many planes will be carrying these students? Will they be the only passengers on the plane? What is the plan for any students who do test positive, is there a hospital quarantine space ready? Is it not possible to screen them before getting ON the plane. Would it not be safer to bring all of these returning students to a single quarantine location for 14 days to limit their interaction with other residents? These and other urgent questions are being voiced by many as we go to press. The public is nervously evaluating the fine line between raising fears to unnecessary levels, and taking as strong as possible precautionary measures, with most urging officials to err on the side of safety.
This is breaking news and the Orange County Post will be doing regular updates on this important story, which will expect to be featured in our issue that goes to press tomorrow night.