Stirpe: Prepare, don’t panic, in face of coronavirus

Assemblyman Al Stirpe

Ever since it was first identified in December, the number of 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases has been on the rise; however, while the virus is indeed a serious public health issue, it is important that people not panic. The way we are going to get through this is by taking logical precautions, following the guidance of public health experts and supporting each other.

The state government is working on measures to contain the virus and limit New Yorkers’ exposure. We just passed a bill delegating $40 million in emergency funding to purchase necessary equipment and supplies, as well as hire and train more health care workers to help combat the virus (Ch. 23 of 2020). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also authorized New York to test locally for COVID-19, meaning results are now possible within hours.[2] While my Assembly colleagues and I will continue to do our best to protect the health and safety of our constituents, I urge New Yorkers to take steps to protect themselves against the virus.

Individually, we can all take certain steps to protect ourselves and our loved ones. The first step is the simplest: wash your hands thoroughly and regularly, especially after being in public places. You can certainly use hand sanitizers, but soap and water are just as effective. Second, avoid touching your face, especially mouth and nose, and make sure to wash your hands before doing so. You can also prevent the spread of this virus by covering coughs and sneezes with tissues and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces. If you have any cold or flu symptoms, stay home and rest. If you develop the symptoms of COVID-19, which include coughing, shortness of breath and a fever, it is important that you call your healthcare provider before seeking help in person.[3] They will be able to walk you through the proper precautions you can take to help prevent the spread of the virus.

It is also recommended that you make sure your home is well-stocked with food staples, household cleaning supplies and over-the-counter medicine, as well as at least a 30-day supply of any prescription medication; however, please resist the urge to stockpile unnecessary amounts of items that others may also need. Actions like this prevent everyone in our community from taking the necessary basic precautions. Instead, touch base with your neighbors and set up a local support network that can share any needed commodities should these become scarce.

As we all prepare for potential challenges brought on by this virus and the public reaction to it, I believe it is our civic responsibility to help and support each other anyway we can. As your representative in Albany, I’ll also continue working to ensure the state is doing everything we can to protect the health of our families.

For updates and more information, visit the state Department of Health website at or call the state Novel Coronavirus Hotline at 888.364.3065. Additionally, if you have any questions or concerns about COVID-19, don’t hesitate to contact my office at 315.452.1115 or



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