Broome County Executive Jason Garnar announces two more deaths April 23 as a result of the coronavirus, bringing the total to 17. Countering that, the number of people recovering from the deadly virus since the outbreak began last month stands at 89.

1,781 people in the county have been tested with 249 positive test results as of April 24, 1,500 negative and 32 tests pending.

Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News (file photo)

Garnar says with residents following stay-at-home orders and social distancing for the most part, the county has not seen its healthcare system overwhelmed by a huge influx of COVID-19 patients as had been the case in New York City.  The local hospitals that set up tents in preparation of the possibility of dealing with huge numbers of patents are now taking those tents down with Emergency Departments reporting they can handle the amount of cases that continue to come in.

Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News (file)

Still, the County Executive says UHS and Lourdes tell him, however, they not expecting Broome to be past what could be considered past what could be considered a peak in cases until the early part of June.

Garnar says the hospitals are, like everyone from state and local governments down to small businesses, are struggling with revenue.  He says administrators tell him the hospitals still are not within the New York State guidelines for the resumption of elective surgeries requiring less than ten new coronavirus admissions in a ten day period. The hospitals report a steady flow of roughly 15 new cases through the door every week and a half.

Photo: U.S. Navy via Getty Images (file)

Garnar says he wishes the Governor and state health officials would re-think those guidelines as the local hospitals currently have more than adequate Intensive Care and non-ICU bed capacity and ventilator and supply quantities.  He says residents are suffering as they wait for procedures that have been delayed by the coronavirus emergency, not to mention the continued financial strain on the hospitals that make a large portion of their revenue from non-emergency surgeries.

As for reopening the local economy, the County Executive says he and local business leaders are closely watching Albany for guidance on regional resumption of business.  He says he's seen the protests around the country and understands the frustration with people being required to remain confined at home.  Garnar cites his own family dynamic, saying his "boys are fighting and continue to fight... They want to go out.. play sports.. see their friends." But restrictions can't be relaxed until it can be sure the number of infections and deaths won't shoot up as a result, destroying all the progress that has been made to control the virus.

Garnar says people have to be serious about wearing masks in public and maintain a six-foot physical distance from others.

The Broome County Executive echoes what other leaders have been saying in predicting a post-crisis future with people continuing to keep their distance and wear masks as part of "the new norm."

photo provided by Broome County

On a positive note, the County has recognized its first Covid-19 Community Champion.  Photographer Kelly Mellander who has been taking "front step family portraits", brightening spirits while maintaining social distancing and raising money for the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse.  Mellander has raised $5,000 for CHOW through her creative talents.

Broome is taking nominations for weekly "champions" at www.gobroomecounty.com.