Poughkeepsie, NY... Our Darkest Hours: County Leadership and the COVID Pandemic, a new book now available online, chronicles the response by New York State through the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic and sharing the first-person accounts of county leaders. The book was commissioned by the New York State County Executives Association, through the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), to document and share the hard lessons learned during this once-in-a-century public health crisis. The book features Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, who shared his reflections about dealing with the personal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the loss of his father to the virus, while leading Dutchess County through this unprecedented pandemic.
County Executive Molinaro said, “COVID-19 has left an inedible mark on us all. Lives have been lost, livelihoods have been disrupted and we are forever changed. County leaders, in particular, learned so much over this past year working together with our communities as well as with each other. We gained so much insight working together collaboratively and documenting our experiences will help the leaders who follow be prepared to handle whatever new challenges the future may bring.”
The book, written by NYSAC President Stephen Acquario, Mark Lavigne and Peter Golden, is composed in two parts. Part I comes directly from the written or oral histories submitted by county executives to document what happened in their county. These riveting first-person accounts provide a glimpse into the fear, struggle, triumph, and pain that local leaders faced as they worked to protect their residents from an invisible and insidious enemy.
County Executive Molinaro, who serves as the President of the New York State County Executives Association, noted, “The work that we did to stop the spread of the virus and get our communities vaccinated may be the most important work we ever do as county leaders. We felt that we owed it to the county leaders who come after us to provide an accurate and unvarnished account of what happened so that when it’s their turn to step up as onsite incident commanders, they don’t have to re-learn the same hard lessons that many of us did.”
Part II of Our Darkest Hours: County Leadership and the COVID Pandemic provides a public policy account of the fractured federal and state response to COVID-19 and explores the economic impact of New York on Pause, the unprecedented state executive powers, and the diminution of local home rule. The appendices include material relating to congressional actions, the state’s executive orders, and cases and COVID deaths by county by month from March 15, 2020 to March 15, 2021.
“This book is a commemoration of the struggle and the hardship and what the county leaders are went through during the height of the pandemic. They were the ones on the ground working 15-hour days, seven days a week for 150 days, coordinating efforts to secure PPE, enforce mask and social distancing mandates while also encouraging residents to check on their neighbors and support struggling local businesses,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen Acquario. “These are stories that needed to be documented for posterity. They must not be forgotten.
Softcover copies of Our Darkest Hours: County Leadership and the COVID Pandemic are available for purchase from Archway Publishing and Amazon for $19.99 and an e-book version can be purchased for $4.99. All proceeds from the book will be donated to Feeding New York State, which supports the ten regional food banks that have been feeding the hardest hit New Yorkers.
Read Chapter 1 of Our Darkest Hours: County Leadership and the COVID Pandemic featuring County Executive Molinaro’s experiences HERE.