Poughkeepsie, NY … Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro hosted the latest in his series of online town halls about the COVID-19 pandemic today, providing residents updates on the pandemic’s impact on local communities and answering residents’ questions.
County Executive Molinaro has hosted more than 25 such virtual meetings to update residents since the County’s first confirmed case of Coronavirus/COVID-19 was announced on March 12th. An archive of the online conversations, including today’s online forum, can be viewed on Dutchess County Government’s YouTube page.
Among the highlights from today’s discussion:
- County Executive Molinaro reviewed Dutchess County’s most recent COVID-19 data posted on the County’s COVID-19 data dashboard:
- 4,248 total confirmed cases
- 66,411 tests completed
- 175 current active cases
- 5 hospitalizations
- 152 deaths
- 3,921 recoveries
- Dutchess County and the Mid-Hudson region commenced Phase 4 of the “NY Forward” re-opening process on Tuesday, July 7th. Under Phase 4, low-risk indoor and outdoor arts and entertainment, such as museums and historical sites, are permitted to operate, as are media and film productions – each at reduced capacity and employing social-distancing guidelines. Additionally, outdoor social gatherings can be increased to 50 individuals in Phase 4, and following federal court ruling, religious activities can take place at 50 percent of a venue’s capacity. More information is available on the County’s “Restarting Dutchess” webpage.
- Governor Cuomo announced at his press briefing today indoor shopping malls are able to open on Friday, July 10th with enhanced HVAC ventilation systems and measures in place.
- The Governor also announced the state will provide finalized guidance for schools on July 13th. Schools must submit plans to the state by July 31st. The state will then make decisions on reopening in the first week of August.
- The County Executive announced the full schedule of Office for the Aging (OFA) drive-through senior picnics, which begin Tuesday, July 28th in Pleasant Valley. Though the pandemic has postponed a variety of events throughout the Hudson Valley, the OFA will continue providing socialization opportunities for local seniors by offering socially distant, drive-through Senior Picnics in a dozen communities over a six-week period, in lieu of the traditional, in-person picnics the OFA has held since 1993. The County will welcome seniors from individual communities to a central gathering point to drive up and receive a bag lunch to take home and enjoy – providing seniors with a balanced meal, important information about aging and interaction with OFA staff and volunteers, while maintaining social-distancing guidelines.
- Following this past Saturday’s “Dutchess County Goes Renegade!” fireworks events, County Executive thanked those who made the three displays successful, including event partners (the Hudson Valley Renegades, Silo Ridge Field Club and the Dutchess County Fairgrounds), event sponsors (iHeartMedia of the Hudson Valley, Central Hudson Gas & Electric, Eastdale Village and the Mitch Nesheiwat family) and County departments (Public Works-Parks, Emergency Response and the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office) for their participation, as well as the community partners (Rhinebeck Rotary Club, Civil Air Patrol and Amenia Fire Company) that assisted with parking at each venue.
- County Executive Molinaro provided a recap of Tuesday evening’s A Listening Town Hall: People of Color Sharing their Experiences in Dutchess County virtual event, hosted by himself and Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney. The 90-minute online event engaged hundreds of local residents of color, with many sharing their personal stories of living in Dutchess County. Among those taking part was former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, a former Dutchess County resident who served in the Obama Administration as General Counsel of the Department of Defense. Leadership from each of Dutchess County’s 30 communities took part in the event, listening to residents and their experiences.
- In today’s town hall, the County Executive reiterated the County’s plan to hire an Inclusion and Equal Opportunity Officer , to work within the community to overcome the civil service system requirements that are often a barrier to County employment for minorities. County Executive Molinaro had announced the Diversity and Equal Employment Officer at his 2020 State of the County address; however the recruitment process had been interrupted with the COVID-19 pandemic. Molinaro noted the search for candidates will resume immediately.
- Dutchess County is prepared to invest in a youth empowerment center in the City of Poughkeepsie, said County Executive Molinaro. He reinforced the work of the County’s “Path to Promise” initiative, which aims to ensure every child in Dutchess County has access to the resources they need to become a successful adult.
- County Executive Molinaro also discussed the County’s initiative to create a unified, countywide law enforcement plan, which will include reforms, policies and procedures deemed necessary “to eliminate racial inequities in policing, to modify and modernize policing strategies, policies, procedures, and practices, and to develop practices to better address the particular needs of communities of color to promote public safety, improve community engagement, and foster trust,” as enumerated in the Governor’s Executive Order No. 202, signed on June 12th. Such agreed-upon reforms will be put in place in every participating law enforcement agency. County Executive Molinaro also announced that every local municipality that has a police force will be required to have to host a similar listening session in their community, similar to Tuesday’s forum, to ensure the needs in their community are heard and included in the reform plans.
County Executive Marc Molinaro’s next COVID-19 Town Hall will take place on Wednesday, July 15th at noon. As with all previous online town hall forums, the July 15th event will be broadcast live on the Dutchess County Government Facebook page, and American Sign Language interpreters will translate the conversation. For information on how to participate and view past online COVID-19 community conversations, view the County’s Coronavirus webpage.