Poughkeepsie, NY… Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro hosted his latest online COVID-19 Town Hall this afternoon, providing residents with latest news about the local impact of the pandemic and answering their questions.
Today’s online event, the first of two County Executive Molinaro will host this week, drew more than 500 viewers who watched live and asked questions. The full town hall update can be viewed on Dutchess County Government’s YouTube page.
Highlights from today’s Town Hall discussion included:
- County Executive Molinaro noted Dutchess County meets all metrics required to re-open as per the criteria reviewed by the Mid-Hudson Regional Control Room, led by representatives from the Governor’s office. However, the Mid-Hudson region overall has not yet been approved to begin Phase 1 reopening. Reopening can only begin with approval for the region – counties may not begin reopening independently.
- One of the current impediments to the Mid-Hudson region’s approval to begin Phase 1 reopening is a recent change to the requirement for contact tracers. While Dutchess County meets the state-mandated metric of 30 contact tracers per 100,000 population, with more than 90 contact tracers; the Mid-Hudson Regional Control Room announced yesterday the number of contract tracers for the region would now be based on infection rate, rather than population – and more than 1,800 contact tracers are needed regionwide. Dutchess County’s required number of contact tracers is now 250. New York State is currently hiring contact tracers, but as it will take the State some time to get all of the needed contact tracers up and running, Dutchess County is recruiting individuals who are willing to immediately volunteer to take the 4-hour training to assist the local community. These volunteers work remotely to contact COVID-positive individuals and re-trace their steps to identify others with whom they may have come in contact and possibly exposed to COVID-19, to contain the spread throughout the community. Individuals interested in volunteering to help Dutchess County meet the immediate need for contact tracers are encouraged to send their name, email address and cell phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org. Signing up to be an available volunteer to help Dutchess County meet its contract tracing needs does not prevent individuals from applying for a paid contact tracing position with the State; individuals can apply for a paid contact tracing position with the state online.
- To date, more than 23,000 Dutchess County residents have been tested for COVID-19. As activities continue to be allowed to resume statewide and as the region becomes approved for Phase 1 opening, County Executive Molinaro stressed the importance of residents continuing to get tested as they re-engage in activities and work outside of their home. Testing collection site information is available on the County’s website.
- The County Executive also noted that on Tuesday the State provided Dutchess County with hundreds of results from tests conducted in April, skewing the County’s cumulative number of confirmed cases, as seen on the Dutchess County COVID-19 Community Impact Dashboard. Many of the individuals whose test results were received late Tuesday have since been categorized as “recovered,” as they have completed their 14-day quarantine.
- The County’s Recovery Center, located at Dutchess Community College’s Conklin Hall Dormitory, has been stood down without a single COVID-19 patient utilizing the facility as local hospital capacity has remained stable. Established in partnership with Nuvance Health in April, the County set up the center in case it was needed for COVID patients who were recovering and didn't need to stay in the hospital but couldn’t return home immediately after being discharged. Local hospital capacity continues to be stable, an important metric toward Phase 1 re-opening.
- Following the latest guidance from Empire State Development (ESD), County Executive Molinaro shared many of the businesses and low-risk activities now permitted to resume, including:
- Socially distant religious services – 10 or fewer worshippers OR in-vehicle services held at drive-in theaters or parking lots;
- Municipal libraries;
- Retail businesses (delivery and curbside pickup only);
- Single student horseback riding;
- Hunting and fishing clubs;
- Acupuncture, when prescribed by a medical professional;
- Pet grooming to ensure the health and well-being of the animal;
- Auto maintenance;
- Low-risk, outdoor activities including, tennis, non-motorized boat use and rentals, and golf and driving ranges, except miniature golf; and
- Drive-in movie theaters.
- County Executive Molinaro also announced Quiet Cove Riverfront Park will officially open to residents on Saturday, May 23rd; the park will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Department of Public Works-Parks staff will monitor the number of patrons and their social distancing.
- Additionally, while the state does not yet permit restaurants to host outdoor dining, County parks have picnic tables available for families to enjoy this weekend; residents will find social distancing measures in place around these tables.
- County Executive Molinaro welcomed Dr. William Begg, Vice President of Medical Affairs at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie, to discuss the importance of residents continuing to seek non-COVID medical attention. As an unintended consequence of the current pandemic, healthcare professionals have experienced an increase of residents putting off non-COVID medical appointments and procedures. Dr. Begg explained the importance of residents remaining vigilant and proactive about their health, as many appointments can be conducted online via telemedicine apps or websites, among other options.
- While traditional Memorial Day celebrations have been postponed this year, due to the pandemic, Dutchess County’s Division of Veterans’ Services has organized a Memorial Day Convoy of county, police, fire and local municipality vehicles, which will travel through Dutchess County to mark the national holiday on Monday, May 25th. The convoy, which will depart from Poughkeepsie at approximately 11 a.m. Monday, will make a loop around Dutchess County, passing through a dozen municipalities. Residents are reminded that, due to social-distancing guidelines, they are not permitted to congregate in large groups; they are, however, urged to hang American flags along the convoy’s route, and children are encouraged to paint and draw flags to be displayed in their windows or on driveways.
County Executive Molinaro will host another COVID-19 Town Hall on Friday, May 22nd at 2 p.m. As with all previous town hall forums, the May 22nd event will be broadcast live on the Dutchess County Government Facebook page, and American Sign Language interpreters will translate the conversation. Past online COVID-19 community conversations are archived on the County’s Coronavirus webpage.
Dutchess County Government continues to provide residents the most current information on its COVID-19 Community Impact Dashboard, as well as guidance on its website, dutchessny.gov/coronavirus, its Coronavirus hotline, (845) 486-3555, and its Facebook and Twitter accounts.