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OpinionColumnistsMark Chiusano

The coronavirus' effect on New York politics

The New York State Capitol Building in Albany,

The New York State Capitol Building in Albany, New York as seen on June 22, 2018. Credit: Getty Images/wellesenterprises

New York State already is seeing some political disruptions from the coronavirus.

Designating petitions for the June 23 federal primary are due for filing between March 30 and April 2, and that’s causing some concern among local campaigns. 

In a recent coronavirus call with state health officials, some Westchester County-area legislators said they worried about being able to get committee people to go out and get enough signatures, a legislator on the call told The Point. 

And that was before Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s decision Tuesday afternoon to order a containment area in New Rochelle, one of the state’s hardest-hit areas by the coronavirus. 

Amid the chaos, a Westchester legislator also is pushing legislation to reduce the number of petition signatures for those in coronavirus-affected counties.

On the national level, polling stations and rally places are stocked with disinfectant and septuagenarian presidential candidates are getting questions about their campaign travel and rally plans. 

Long Island has been less hard-hit but congressional campaigns are proceeding with caution. 

CD1 Democratic candidate Nancy Goroff, a Stony Brook University chemistry professor, says that her campaign is still petitioning but being careful about it. 

“We are telling our volunteers not to shake hands, and to wash their hands often,” she told The Point. And most important: stay home if they are sick. 

Perry Gershon, another CD1 challenger, is stocking his office and public meetings with hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes, according to the campaign.

State Sen. James Gaughran had a Long Island Rail Road town hall scheduled at Oyster Bay High School for Thursday along with the Oyster Bay Main Street Association. That event has been temporarily canceled “out of an abundance of caution,” said Gaughran. The high school itself was closed Tuesday, with a statement on the district’s website noting that “two individuals employed by our transportation contractor who transport community students to locations OTHER than our District schools have tested positive for COVID-19.”

Gaughran said he hoped to reschedule the event, perhaps with an online component for those who don’t want to venture out. 

The Northport Democrat said he was monitoring the health situation but noted the need for forward motion. 

“Democracy needs to continue as well,” he said, allowing that might occur with “less shaking of hands.”