“At the 9-1-1 center, we follow a national protocol for evaluating how sick you are and the dispatchers have been getting information on how to evaluate those,” said Director of Broome County Emergency Services, Michael Ponticello. “Then, we place a call on how to communicate that to our first responders.” Local law enforcement like the Broome County Sheriff’s Office is joining in on the efforts. They’ve implemented protocol that their deputies and other members must wear special masks, goggles, and latex gloves when responding to a person who may have been exposed or has symptoms of the virus. They also will administer lower level medical masks onto people who may be in contact with them. She says this is a very important time for the community and first responders to have a trust in one another to help each other move forward in this pandemic. (WBNG) — While first responders are working to keep you safe, they are also taking extra measures to make sure they stay clear of the coronavirus as well. Meanwhile, dispatch workers have a new set of guidelines to follow to make sure you are safe from the virus and so are there first responders. Captain Kate Newcomb says it’s essential to keep her team clean, saying, “Everybody’s facing the same struggle and we don’t want our line of defense to come down with this infection and then that cripples us and we can’t serve the public.” Calling 9-1-1 may be a quick reaction when panicking over the coronavirus pandemic. However, emergency officials say it’s important to stay calm and make sure it’s a real emergency before calling the dispatch center in order for them to not get a serious overflow of calls.
One of the twenty testing locations is right in the Southern Tier at the Johnson City Wegmans. Wegmans has told 12 News the state has completed more than 100 fingerstick tests at the location. “We really want it to be representative. Each of the sites we’re working with make sure there’s only a small line, they’re all appropriately social distanced so we don’t introduce anymore problems,” said Hutton. “We can use those tests to determine what percentage of the population in New York State were truly infected with the SARS-CoV2 virus. Maybe they didn’t even know it because maybe they didn’t have symptoms at the time,” said New York State Office of Public Health Deputy Commissioner Brad Hutton. Health officials say it takes about two days to receive test results. “What we don’t know yet, is whether or not that indicates you’ll have complete immunity against future infections. We don’t know what the risk of re-infection is until we go weeks and months further into the epidemic,” said Hutton. The NYS Department of Health says they have a goal to test 3,000 people out of a population of 19.5 million. After determining the percentage of those population now immune to the virus, officials say it will provide a clearer picture to the reopening process. (WBNG) — Antibody tests are the latest initiative to determine how many New York residents have actually been infected with the virus.
“From a financial standpoint, First Friday is crucial. It’s crucial to the galleries at least. Most of the galleries here are only open on First Friday and then maybe 10 to 2 on some Saturdays, maybe not at all,” said Barlo Reynolds. Salton says fellow artists are feeling the strain, but she’s trying to look at the pandemic in a different light. Cooperative Gallery 213 says the cancellations are tough, but they have other ways to ensure the gallery continues to operate after the pandemic. Even though First Friday may not look the same going forward, artists say they’ll continue to create. “We don’t do a tremendous amount of sales, so the economic impact, how we stay open, is membership dues,” said Judy Salton, an artist at Cooperative Gallery 213. (WBNG) — With both First Fridays in April and May cancelled, the art community is feeling the economical strain from the pandemic. Organizers say they’re hoping to have First Friday in June, even though it may not look the same. Barlo Reynolds says they have considered extending gallery hours, limiting visitors, and even hosting virtual shows. “I’m still going to be working on the show, it gives me a little more time. For me, it’s working out well, but for some of the people who are ready and itching to go, I think they are probably a little disappointed,” said Salton. Salton says she shows her work about every 18 months. She says the artists who are more affected are those who had shows scheduled in recent weeks. “There’s a sign out front that says, ‘The gallery is closed, but open your mind to possibilities,'” said Salton. “It’s a devastating blow financially to the galleries,” said Broome County Arts Council Executive Director Nancy Barlo Reynolds. For more information on First Fridays, you can head over to the Broome County Arts Council website.
“We’ve seen some familiar faces return, and we’ve seen some new faces join us, which has been a wonderful experience to have them back,” said Strawser. Staff say they’ve seen an uptick in all six counties they serve. Although the warehouse was closed, there was still a community need to be filled. “Whether there’s three or four people here to help or if there are a dozen people here to help, the amount of work that gets done is just amazing,” said Todd. “When it first started, we started to see an increase of need in the Southern Tier that we serve and in hearing from our agency partners, being meal sites and food pantries, they were seeing about a 50 percent increase in need from people in their communities,” said Community Engagement Manager Katherine Strawser. Debbie Todd was volunteering on the day back in March when she heard the facility was closing to volunteers. Volunteers say they’re happy to be able to continue to help their community, but in a larger capacity. “Volunteers are a huge part of the Food Bank of the Southern Tier. We rely on volunteers on a daily basis,” said Strawser. And the Food Bank of the Southern Tier is just as grateful. Now, months later, the Food Bank is welcoming volunteers back inside its facility. While the demand was increasing, the organization had to cut back on its volunteers for safety reasons. (WBNG) — Since the pandemic came to our area, the Food Bank of the Southern Tier has seen more of a need for its services. For more information on how to volunteer at the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, click here. “We’ve been using volunteers offsite at those community food distributions to help support getting food out to our neighbors who are coming to those community food distributions,” said Strawser. “It was just, it was surreal, as of course so much would be with the closures all across society,” she said. “It’s really important to come together as a community to support each other in times like these,” said Strawser.
This year is the largest to date, with a total of 760 backpacks to giveaway. BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — Binghamton children in grades pre-k through 12 got a free backpack with their meal pickup on Tuesday. The next pickup date is Aug. 27 from 10 a.m. to noon at the following sites. Horace Mann Elementary School (30 College St)Woodrow Wilson Elementary School (287 Prospect St.)Benjamin Franklin Elementary School (262 Conklin Ave) Since this partnership and giveaway began in 2017, the City of Binghamton and CARES have provided 1,800 backpacks to Binghamton children. Backpacks are available to Binghamton City School District children in grades Pre-K through 12 on a first-come first-serve basis. Inside the backpacks are essential school and art supplies that students will need throughout the acedemic year. “We’re really trying to get them excited and talk about how they feel because school is looking different. So its exciting to be able to talk to the kids about how they are feeling and have them choose the color they want, they really love that. So its a great day its a great experience.” said Denise Yull, the Board President of CARES. The city of Binghamton partnered with CARES (Community Advocated Restoring Educational Standards) for the 4th consecutive year to supply free backpacks to students within Binghamton.
“It’s important to monitor what you have in your home, securing it up with a lock, and dispose of it safely when it’s no longer wanted or needed,” Olevano said. Olevano says this year, with young people at home and often unattended, it’s important to monitor what is in your house. The national day also aims to educate people about the dangers of abusing medications. (WBNG)– Tomorrow is National Take Back Prescription Drug Day and the Southern Tier is taking part to dispose of old prescriptions safely. Binghamton University Vestal Police Department Chenango County Sheriff’s OfficeTioga County Sheriff’s Office Susquehanna County Sheriff’s Office Norwich Police Department Sidney Police Department Oneonta Police Department 72 North Ave. in Owego Spencer Fire Department Officials say you can drop your items off at any of these locations and law enforcement and the DEA will incinerate and safely destroy the prescription drugs afterward. National Take Back Prescription Drug Day aims to provide not only a safe way for people to get rid of their old, expired, or unused prescription drugs safely, but also conveniently and responsibly. Officials say those taking part in Prescription Drug Take Back Day will be taking necessary steps to protect those who drop off items from the virus. 12 News spoke with Christina Olevano on Around the Tiers, the Project Director for the Tioga Allies in Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition who says this day is very important. In the Southern Tier, a number of places are participating in taking back medications, including:
Binghamton Bulldogs owner Jimmy Evans took notice, and wanted to jump on board. “This initially started with donations,” she said. “My friends on my Facebook page, that’s how this first wave of bags came through.” Ocker said getting support from the Bulldogs means a lot. “To have someone reach out and say they want to partner and make it bigger and better it just makes my heart happy for the kids that need a little bit more,” she said. “We have some players on the team that come from this community and we want to make sure that every opportunity that we can connect with members of our community to give back and help support in any way that we possibly can,” said Evans. Evans said being a community based franchise encourages the team to give back in any way they can. To donate, Ocker said you can message her on Facebook by searching her name. (WBNG) — The Binghamton Bulldogs are giving back this Holiday season, collecting toys for the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. The idea originated from Endwell native Bobbi-Jo Ocker, who said the idea for her “cheer bags” grew after posting on Facebook. “We just wanted to kind of piggyback on it, and do whatever we can to contribute and help raise as many bags as we possibly could,” said Evans. Ocker and Evans said their goal is to reach sixty bags. Ocker said the deadline to donate is December 10. You can also donate through the Bulldogs by dropping bags off at St. Ambrose Church in Endicott at 6 p.m. any week day.