News Release


For More Information:

William R. Steinhaus
Dutchess County Executive
(845) 486-2000

For Immediate Release

July 19, 2002


Steinhaus Requests Legislature To Enhance County’s Terrorism Capacity 

As part of the continuing commitment, described in his ‘2002 State of the County’ message, to providing for a safer community and enhancing the local public health system in Dutchess, County Executive William R. Steinhaus announced today he is sending a resolution request to the County Legislature to improve the County’s level of preparedness to detect and respond to acts of terrorism that could impact our county.  In the Fall of 2001 during the 2002 Budget process, County Executive Steinhaus took an early lead to build the County’s capacity to detect and respond to the earliest signs of biological, chemical or radiological attack by creating an Epidemiologist position within the county Health Department.  With the subsequent support of the Legislature this action was accomplished and the position was filled by early 2002.  

A new round of enhancements would begin later this year if the Legislature acts on a resolution submitted by the County Executive for approval at their August Legislative meeting.   Funding for the new proposals would come primarily from a federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) grant to the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).  A key element of the grant is to increase or develop terrorism preparedness and response capacity at the local level.  Under this grant, Dutchess County will secure $70,000 with the adoption of the resolution and an additional $210,000 by August of 2003.   

In announcing his resolution request to the Legislature, County Executive Steinhaus stated, “The events of September 11th and the anthrax incidents that followed have heightened our awareness that local public health departments are key players in the first response to catastrophic events as well as to smaller, day-to-day public health threats.   All across our country, including here in Dutchess County, efforts are underway to enhance the local public health infrastructure to be better prepared to detect and respond to public health threats.” 

The ‘Public Health Preparedness & Response Grant’ includes requirements specified by the CDC to address five specific ‘Focus Areas’.  Each of these critical areas must be addressed by counties through specific actions and activities required by the State in order to receive funding: 

·         Planning & Assessment

·         Surveillance

·         Information Technology

·         Communication

·         Education and Training 

The County Executive also said, “I want to help our Dutchess County Departments of Health and Emergency Response to play leadership roles in the detection of and response to any possible radiological, chemical or biological event that could impact our community.  While the basic infrastructure for our local agencies to respond already exists, our goal is to improve our County’s current capacity to detect and respond to a major biological incident.”   

The Executive’s latest initiative includes objectives to help achieve that goal: 

·         To move from a current system that reports diseases, sometimes with a three-year lag time, to a system that can provide near real-time health data reports.


·         To improve our systems of communications so that they will be reliable, informative and timely. 


·         To provide a cohesive network of local responders who are prepared and knowledgeable of all agency roles and responsibilities. 

·         To strengthen our Medical Examiner program to both detect and respond to any emerging public health threat.

·         To enhance the collaboration and coordination of services among local agencies.  

Dutchess County Commissioner of Health, Dr. Michael C. Caldwell said, “The New York State Department of Health has received CDC funding for FY 2002 and is providing county health departments with funds equivalent to $1 per capita for the purpose of enhancing public health preparedness to respond to bioterrorism events. This new funding enables us to quickly develop improvements in our comprehensive preparedness plans, to upgrade infectious disease surveillance and investigation systems and to improve connectivity and communication between hospitals, local and state health departments to enhance disease recognition and reporting.  Furthermore, it will enhance our ability to communicate rapidly to our partners, such as New York State departments and agencies, hospitals, State and local police departments, local fire departments, EMS providers, and the public, especially during a real or suspected crisis situation.” 

Dr. Caldwell expressed his hope that the gradual, planned improvement of the County’s public safety and public health capacities would be continue during 2003. 


2002 Press Releases