Putnam County Executive Mary Ellen Odell’s response in the April 17 issue to my earlier letter to The Current leaves me even more concerned for our county.
Cutting staff by 50 percent is old news at this point and can’t be used to fill space in a letter. The daily briefings with the county Health Department, which by the way, Odell doesn’t attend, are only a litany of complaints and a rundown of who is sick and who has died. I got more information in a 10-minute phone call with Nuvance Health than I did on three weeks of attending these morning calls. The commissioner of health, Dr. Michael Nesheiwat, didn’t even know that there was a testing site at Dutchess Stadium. He should be fired tomorrow.
As for the county’s delayed funding of the effort, the results speak for themselves: weeks of unprotected workers and families wondering what to do about food and medicine. There is still no county plan for long-term assistance to families in need. To rely on the United Way is fine, but there has been only one grocery pickup to date. Last I checked families like to eat each day. And for protecting our most vulnerable, seniors and the health-compromised, nothing.
It has been left to the towns to come up with plans and disseminate the information and supplies. To date, Philipstown has not received a single item from Putnam County. This is not to say that our great Legislator Nancy Montgomery has let this hamper her efforts. Nancy has delivered hundreds of masks and actionable information, and has been on the front line since the start of the outbreak.
With no help from the county, the Town of Philipstown has been left to fill the void. We have given out $75,000 in food and medical supplies, along with mask-making material. We have also sent food assistance funding to the Town of Carmel, Beacon and Newburgh. All this us possible through a generous private donation. We will continue to seek private and public funds. More importantly, we will continue to take care of our residents.
As has been the case since the formation of the county government, Philipstown has been ignored. But this time it is not just Philipstown, it’s the entire county. The lack of leadership at the top level of county government has caused real suffering. I fear for not only the residents of our county but the county employees who are going to work each day without protective equipment.
This is not about politics. It’s about facts. From all that I have seen and heard on the county calls, the county executive’s absence and lack of leadership has and will continue to cause more pain for all the residents of Putnam County.
Richard Shea, Cold Spring
Shea is the Philipstown supervisor.