Poughkeepsie, NY … Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro has now held more than 30 virtual Town Hall Forums regarding COVID-19 since the pandemic first reached Dutchess County in mid-March, his latest taking place this afternoon at the County’s Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill.
Hundreds of residents took part in the online discussion, during which the County Executive provided the latest updates on the pandemic and the County’s “Restarting Dutchess” efforts, and answered viewers’ questions. An archive of the online conversations, including today’s, can be viewed on Dutchess County Government’s YouTube page.
Among the highlights of today’s dialogue:
- County Executive Molinaro reviewed Dutchess County’s most recent COVID-19 data posted on the County’s COVID-19 data dashboard:
- 4,447 total confirmed cases
- 87,238 tests completed
- 212 current active cases
- 1 hospitalization
- 153 deaths
- 4,082 recoveries
- 1% infection rate
- The County Executive reiterated the importance for low-income residents who were “rent-burdened” before and during the COVID-19 pandemic to apply for the state’s Rent Relief Program prior to the July 30th deadline. More than $100 million is available to low-income residents who pay more than 30 percent of their gross monthly income for rent and have experienced an additional decrease in income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Hudson Valley Renegades President and General Manager Steve Gliner joined County Executive Molinaro to discuss the team’s activities at Dutchess Stadium, one of Dutchess County’s award-winning parks. Despite Minor League Baseball canceling the 2020 season in late June, the Renegades are currently hosting this week’s “Bottom of the 9th” tournament for high school seniors in the region. The team will also host several more weeks of sports camps for local children – including a pair led by former New York Yankees Shane Spencer and Joe Ausanio, as well as the team’s inaugural lacrosse camp – throughout August. July is Parks and Recreation Month, and Dutchess County’s parks – Wilcox Park, Bowdoin Park, the Dutchess Rail Trail, the Harlem Valley Rail Trail and Quiet Cove Riverfront Park – offer endless hours of summer enjoyment, from a splash pad at Bowdoin Park to beat the heat (open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.) to passive recreation alongside the Hudson River at Quiet Cove.
- County Executive Molinaro renewed his call for direct financial assistance to counties from the State and Federal government, given the unfathomable fiscal toll the pandemic has taken on Dutchess County. Sales tax, for example, supports 40 percent of Dutchess County Government programs and services, and the County’s 2nd Quarter sales tax for the shutdown period March 1-June 22 was down 17 percent over last year. Moreover, year-to-date sales tax payments are down 11.5 percent, compared to the same period in 2019; based on such projections, Dutchess County could experience a loss in sales tax revenue between $20-40 million. Additionally, hotel room occupancy tax for the 2nd Quarter was down 80 percent, resulting in $1 million less than last year; State aid reductions could total 20-50 percent, or between $17-42 million, depending on Federal aid and the size of the State budget deficit; and casino revenue paid to the County is expected to be $1 million less than projected.
- Earlier this week, County Executive Molinaro met with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to advocate for the federal “Child Care Is Essential Act,” which establishes and provides $50 billion in appropriations for the Child Care Stabilization Fund to award grants to child care providers during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. County Executive Molinaro said lacking affordable, quality daycare keeps many parents from re-entering the workforce, thus negatively impacting the local economy. The bill establishes the fund within the existing Department of Health and Human Services Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program, and the grants must be administered by the existing CCDBG lead agencies of states, tribes, or territories. Child care providers that are currently open or temporarily closed due to COVID-19 are eligible to receive grant awards, which are based on the provider's operating costs before the COVID-19 public health emergency and adjusted to account for the increased costs of providing child care as a result of COVID-19.
- County Executive Molinaro welcomed New York State Senator Sue Serino, who discussed the importance of residents maintaining their non-COVID-related health – keeping doctor’s appointments and routine health screenings during the pandemic. Recently diagnosed with breast cancer, Sen. Serino learned of her diagnosis following a scheduled mammogram earlier this year.
- In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and social-distancing guidelines, the County’s Office for the Aging (OFA) held the first of its 12 “Drive-Thru Senior Picnics,” in lieu of the traditional, in-person Senior Picnics, which OFA has hosted since 1993. More than 250 seniors participated for Tuesday’s OFA picnic, held at Joseph D'Aquanni West Road Intermediate School in Pleasant Valley, during which they drove to the school and received a free bag lunch made at Country Corners Deli; each of the 12 picnics, taking place every Tuesday and Thursday, will feature a lunch prepared by local delis and restaurants. The OFA’s next “Drive-Thru Senior Picnic” takes place Thursday at Memorial Park in the City of Beacon, with nearly 250 seniors registered. The complete schedule of OFA senior picnics is available on Dutchess County Government’s website calendar.
County Executive Molinaro will hold his next virtual COVID-19 Town Hall forum on Wednesday, August 5th; residents can view the conversation and submit their questions on the Dutchess County Government Facebook page. American Sign Language interpreters will translate the discussion live on Facebook, as they have for all 30 of the County Executive’s previous virtual conversations.