Poughkeepsie, NY … Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro today hosted his most recent online Town Hall Forum regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Joined by Dr. Jeffrey Nicastro from Nuvance Health, the County Executive provided residents updates about the County’s response, vaccine distribution and other topics, while answering their questions.
Among the highlights of today’s discussion:
- Following today’s inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, County Executive Molinaro offered congratulation and welcome, saying “There is much to be done as we respond to this pandemic, rebuild our economy, restore our communities and seek to heal our country. You have been elected to serve all Americans and the hopes of our nation are with you both. May God give you the strength, wisdom, and compassion to serve well. And, may we achieve success together as one.”
- County Executive Molinaro updated residents on the most current data available on the Dutchess County COVID-19 Community Impact Dashboard:
- 420,935 tests completed to date
- 16757 confirmed cases to date
- 2,335 current active cases
- 147 current hospitalizations
- 319 deaths to date
- 14,103 recovered to date
- Positivity Rate Dutchess County (7-day rolling avg.): 8.01%, as of Jan. 18th
- County Executive Molinaro implored residents to remain patient during the state-operated COVID-19 vaccination process, as there are more 7 million residents currently eligible for vaccination under the New York State Phased Distribution Plan. With the State currently receiving approximately only 250,000 to 300,000 doses per week, demand for vaccine far exceeds supply.
- Dutchess County Government has two Points of Dispensing (PODs) to vaccinate eligible Dutchess County residents as supply is available. These PODs operate by appointment only. This week’s 600 appointments, based on the 600 doses the County was allocated, booked with moments of the County’s announcement of new appointment availability. County Executive Molinaro reminded residents to:
- Check www.dutchessny.gov/covidvaccine for the latest vaccine information and updates about new appointment availability at the County-run PODs, when additional vaccine doses become available from New York State;
- Sign up to receive updates about COVID-19 and vaccine through the County’s free Dutchess Delivery system, which emails updates direct to residents’ inboxes – information including how to make an appointment at the County’s PODs, when more vaccine is available from the state;
- Please do not call the Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health (DBCH) for vaccine appointments. DBCH cannot make appointments for residents;
- Call the New York State’s COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline (1-833-697-4829), which is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., for scheduling vaccination appointments at New York State-run vaccination sites (the nearest state-run locations include Westchester County Center, the Javits Center in NYC, and SUNY Albany); and
- Utilize the State’s “Am I Eligible?” online tool to check their eligibility for vaccination and make appointments at the state-run vaccination sites.
- In addition to the County’s PODs and the New York State vaccination sites, pharmacies across the State have begun receiving very limited doses of vaccines. As directed by New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) guidance, pharmacies are vaccinating only those 65 years of age and older.
- Dr. Jeffrey Nicastro, Chief Medical Officer at Nuvance Health, joined County Executive Molinaro to answer questions about the COVID-19 vaccination, and answer residents’ questions. Dr. Nicastro explained that the vaccine is safe and very effective and answered several questions including:
- How effective are the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines? Both vaccines have an efficacy above 50% after the first vaccine shot, and 94-95% after the second vaccine dose.
- How does this particular vaccine work? Unlike other vaccines, COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t use weakened, or dead versions of the virus to immunize individuals. These vaccines use messenger RNA (mRNA) to help the body create anti-bodies to fight COVID-19.
- Are there microchips being utilized in the administration this vaccine? Despite rumors appearing online, there is no technology being injected into anyone’s body.
- What kind of reactions or side effects can be expected? The most common reaction to the administration of this vaccine is localized soreness at the injection site. Discomfort in one’s arm should go away in a day or so. Some people get a low-grade fever after receiving an injection. Dr. Nicastro noted that he, himself, suffered from a fever and lethargy after receiving his second dose of the vaccine.
- Is there evidence that this vaccine can lead to infertility? There is currently no data to support the idea that COVID-19 vaccination leads to infertility.
- Do we still have to wear masks after receiving a vaccine? Yes. People will need continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, and practice good hand hygiene even after being vaccinated because we just don’t know the extent to which we may be able to spread COVID-19 even after being vaccinated.
- County Executive Molinaro reminded viewers that while vaccination has begun, albeit on a limited scale, active cases of COVID-19 are still on the rise. Residents are reminded to continue the precautions to prevent COVID-19: wearing masks, washing hands frequently, practice social distancing, and not engaging in social gatherings.
Other Important Information:
- Residents who test positive for COVID-19 must follow health protocols to prevent further spread of COVID-19. To ensure those who test positive receive important guidance, residents whose case is reported to the County’s Department of Behavioral & Community Health (DBCH) will receive a text message, providing them with important information about how to properly isolate and notify close contacts to prevent the spread of the virus, as well as other resources and information. The new texting program, which is available to residents who provide their cell phone number to providers at the time they are tested for COVID-19, allows DBCH to concurrently alert multitudes of residents of their positive test results and offer them follow-up instructions regarding quarantining — alleviating the already-overwhelmed contact tracing and case investigation apparatus.
- County Executive Molinaro highlighted his executive order supporting local restaurants by temporarily capping service fees charged by third-party food delivery app companies to no more than 15% of the cost of a food order. The services these food delivery apps offer have become vital during the COVID-19 pandemic as both restaurants and customers have come to rely on takeout and delivery orders. However, fee structures used by some apps can be as much as 30% on delivery orders and are cutting too deeply into restaurants’ profits during these hard times.
- Dutchess County Public Transit is hosting a virtual public outreach meeting on Tuesday, January 26th at 5:30 p.m. to gather feedback on proposed changes to the County’s public transit system as part of the countywide Bus Stop/Shelter Study. Registration is required and residents are encouraged to sign up at dutchessNY.gov/publictransit.
County Executive Molinaro has hosted more than 50 such virtual discussions since March 2020, and an archive of all such forums, including today’s conversation, is available on the County’s YouTube page.
County Executive Molinaro’s next virtual discussion will take place on Wednesday, January 27th at 5:30pm, when he hosts a countywide Tele-Town Hall. Residents can call (845) 765-7121 to listen to the dialogue and ask their questions. This event will also be broadcast live on the County’s Facebook page. As with the County Executive’s virtual forums, American Sign Language interpreters will translate the conversation on Facebook.