Poughkeepsie, NY … Last night, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro continued his nearly 10-months long series of virtual Town Hall Forums regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Several thousand residents took part in the night’s dialogue, either through the telephone town hall portion, or by watching on the County’s Facebook page. Joined by Dr. Michael Gewitz of Westchester Medical Center (WMC), Commissioner of Behavioral & Community Health (DBCH) Dr. Anil Vaidian, and the County Executive provided residents updates about the County’s vaccine distribution, the response to COVID-19, and other topics, while answering as many questions as possible in 90 minutes.
Among the highlights of today’s discussion:
- County Executive Molinaro updated residents on the most current data available on the Dutchess County COVID-19 Community Impact Dashboard:
- 442,788 tests completed to date
- 18,235 confirmed cases to date
- 1,707 current active cases
- 162 current hospitalizations
- 343 deaths to date
- 16,185 recovered to date
- Positivity Rate Dutchess County (7-day rolling avg.): 6.95%, as of 1/25/21.
- County Executive Molinaro asked residents for their continued patience during the state-operated COVID-19 vaccination process. There are more than 7 million residents currently eligible for vaccination under the New York State Phased Distribution Plan. Currently, the State is receiving approximately only 250,000 to 300,000 doses per week, and while reports indicate that number is expected to increase slightly, the demand for vaccines will still far exceed allocated supply.
- This week, Dutchess County Government will open a Point of Dispensing (POD) located at the former JCPenney store at the Poughkeepsie Galleria, to vaccinate eligible Dutchess County residents. The County will only operate one POD this week to test higher capacity in preparation for larger vaccine allocations in the future. The POD operates by appointment only. This week’s 600 appointments, based on the 600 doses the County was once again allocated, booked within moments of the County’s announcement of new appointment availability. County Executive Molinaro advised residents to:
- Sign up now to receive emails or text messages notifying them of when appointments for vaccination will be available at the PODs. Visit www.dutchessny.gov/covidvaccine to sign up for alerts, as well as 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;
- 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 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
- Use the State’s “Am I Eligible?” online tool to check their eligibility for vaccination and make appointments at the state-run vaccination sites.
- County Executive Molinaro highlighted the lack of vaccination prioritization and guidance from NYSDOH regarding individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). served by OPWDD, OMH, or OASAS. As such, on Monday, the Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health (DBCH) hosted a vaccine POD at New Horizons Resources in Pleasant Valley for those IDD individuals. 60 individuals were vaccinated utilizing doses of the vaccine from the county’s small allocation from the state.
- Dr. Michael Gewitz, Physician in Chief of Maria Fereri Children’s Hospital at WMC, joined County Executive Molinaro to answer residents’ questions. Dr. Gewitz reiterated the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines, while answering a number of questions.
- County Executive Molinaro reminded participants 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:
- Following discussions between regional County Executives, and area public health officials, the 7 counties of the Hudson Valley region will authorize “Higher-Risk” sports — both scholastic and non-scholastic — to proceed, effective February 1st, 2021. These activities include, but are not limited to, football, wrestling, ice hockey, rugby, basketball, contact lacrosse, volleyball, martial arts, and competitive cheer/dance. In accordance with the state guidance, County health departments in the region will also monitor whether there has been a more-transmissible variant of COVID-19 identified in the area, as well as the percent of local residents who test positive.
- County Executive Molinaro, DBCH Commissioner Dr. Anil Vaidian, and Deputy Commissioner of Emergency Response Ken Roman hosted an informational session about COVID-19 vaccinations for members of law enforcement in Dutchess County. Together they answered questions about the County's role through the COVID-19 pandemic and stressed the need for continued partnership and collaboration with law enforcement. The goal of the question and answer session was to help overcome vaccine reluctance and provide the latest facts regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. Those in law enforcement are currently eligible to be vaccinated as part of Phase 1b.
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, February 3rd at 3pm, when he hosts a virtual town hall on the County’s Facebook page. American Sign Language interpreters will translate the conversation on Facebook.