CAPITOL REGION — A veteran state senator who is recovering from a bout with COVID-19 on Thursday urged people to continue to follow recommended health and safety guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus, even as talk turns to reopening the upstate economy.
“In light of what I have been through, contracting coronavirus and now recovering from the insidious disease, I want to urge everyone to continue to observe recommended health guidelines to prevent further spread,” said Sen. James L. Seward, R-Oneonta. “I have heard of those who are not taking health recommendations seriously, and I can tell you from my experience — that is a crucial mistake.”
Seward, whose district includes Schoharie County, continues to recover at home. A spokesman said Seward is not yet granting interviews.
Seward, 68, announced on March 30 that he had been diagnosed with a case of the illness caused by coronavirus, and was being treated at Albany Medical Center. Shortly after that, his condition deteriorated and he was placed on a ventilator to help him breath, but he rebounded and was taken off the ventilator several days later. He was discharged from the hospital on April 13.
Under current state requirements, any individual who is over age 2 is required to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face-covering when in a public place and unable to maintain social distance. While most people are obeying the requirement, some aren’t.
At a protest Wednesday at the state Capitol where more than 100 people called for re-opening of parts of the upstate economy closed since mid-March, some of the protesters did not use face coverings.
Like many upstate lawmakers whose areas have been less severely affected by the virus than downstate areas, Seward wants to see the economy reopen on the kind of region-by-region basis planned by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. But he said people shouldn’t relax their standards.
“New York state will recover from this pandemic and we need to be preparing a blueprint to reopen businesses and get people back to work,” his statement said. “However, now is not the time to relax our vigilance. Following safety guidelines has put us in a position to start looking ahead, and I urge everyone to keep up the fight.”
Seward represents the 51st Senate District, which includes Schoharie County. After serving 33 years in the Senate, he announced in January that he would not be seeking re-election and would retire at the end of the year. One factor in his decision, he said, was the return of a bladder cancer that was first diagnosed in 2016.
In addition to all of Schoharie County, Seward’s district includes all of Otsego and Cortland counties, along with parts of Herkimer and five other counties.