Coronavirus Update (July)

Town Board-22 July 2020

There was plenty of room to roam when the Philipstown Town Board met in person on Wednesday (July 22) for a workshop at the town Recreation Center in Garrison. The board had convened only by teleconference since March, when the COVID-19 shutdown began. Attendance rules on Wednesday included wearing of masks and social distancing. (Photo by Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong)

■ Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on July 31 that hospitalizations had dropped to 576, the lowest since March 17; ICU patients to 140, the lowest since March 16; and intubations to 70, the lowest since March 15.

■ Cuomo on July 23 said the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision had tested 4,000 state prisoners aged 55 or older and found 77, or 1.9 percent, had COVID-19.

■ The Beacon City Council on July 20 passed a resolution recommending that the state implement safeguards within its prison facilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It noted that the Fishkill Correctional Facility has the highest number of confirmed infections in the state’s prisons with 86 and at least five fatalities, and also that many visitors to and employees of the facility “are valued members of the Beacon community and frequent Beacon businesses, restaurants, parks and public places and some reside within Beacon and such interaction can contribute to community spread of COVID-19.” In addition, the resolution recommended that “the state consider granting additional clemencies by reconsidering the petitions and considering  the age of the petitioner, the amount of time served, and the record of rehabilitation before denying a petition submitted by a prisoner convicted of a violent offense.”

■ Cuomo announced on July 23 that the state has formed a multi-agency task force to crack down on social distancing violations at restaurants and bars. It includes state troopers and investigators from the departments of health, financial services, motor vehicles, taxation and finance, and agriculture and markets as well as the New York State Insurance Fund. He said the task force had conducted nearly 1,100 compliance checks, documented violations at 84 establishments and issued 37 violations. Businesses found in violation of social distancing regulations face fines up to $10,000 per violation, while egregious violations can result in the immediate suspension of their liquor license, he said.

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Worshippers at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Garrison brought their own chairs for a service outside the sanctuary on July 23. Although houses of worship have been allowed since June 26 to hold outdoor services of any size and indoor services at up to 50 percent capacity with social distancing and face coverings, only recently have some emerged from virtual gatherings initiated to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Ross Corsair)

■ A travel enforcement operation began July 14 at airports across the state, including Westchester and Stewart, to ensure travelers arriving from restricted states follow the quarantine restrictions. Team members meet arriving aircraft at gates and greet disembarking passengers to request proof of completion of a Department of Health form distributed by airlines upon the boarding or disembarking flights. The state said that compliance rose to 92 percent after it announced travelers who leave the airport without completing the form could face a $2,000 fine.

■ Cuomo said the State Liquor Authority agents and state troopers visited 1,103 bars and restaurants in New York City and on Long Island on the evening of Friday (July 31) and found violations at 41 establishments, or 4 percent.

■ The state launched a marketing campaign aimed at younger adults after the weekly average COVID-19 rate among 21- to 30-year-olds increased to 13.2 percent from 9.9 percent.

■ Putnam County began issuing health alerts to warn people who may have been exposed in public places to the virus, such as being at Salsa Fresca in Carmel on July 7 between 7 and 8 p.m.; at Tom & Jerry’s Bar & Grill in Brewster on July 6 between 1:30 and 3 p.m. or at the deli counter at TOPS Friendly Markets in Carmel on July 2 from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. or July 5 from 5:30 a.m. to 8 a.m.

■ SplashDown Beach in Fishkill announced on July 27 it would not open this year. “Over the last several months we have invested heavily in the preparing to open responsibly,” owners owners Steve and Shelley Turk said in a statement. “We have made every effort to provide families with a safe and enjoyable summer destination. Unfortunately amusements parks and water parks have yet to be given permission or guidance to operate within the State of New York.”

■ Dutchess County issued a health alert for anyone who shopped at the Ashley Home Store, 1895 South Road, in Poughkeepsie from July 11 to 15. An employee tested positive for COVID-19. The Health Department advised anyone who shopped at the store on those dates to monitor for symptoms and seek testing as a precautionary measure. For more information, individuals can call the Coronavirus Hotline at 845-486-3555.

■ Cuomo on July 13 announced that schools will be allowed to reopen in the fall if their region is in Phase 4 of the state’s reopening plan and its daily infection rate remains below 5 percent using a 14-day average. Schools will close if the regional infection rate rises above 9 percent, using a 7-day average, after Aug. 1, he said. The state also issued interim guidance for safety protocols.

■ Cuomo announced on July 16 that restaurants and bars must only serve alcohol to people who are ordering and eating food and that all service at bar tops must be for seated patrons who are six feet apart or separated by physical barriers.

■ On July 17, the governor said that New York City would enter Phase 4 beginning Monday (July 20), without indoor activities such as malls and cultural institutions. Every region of New York State will then be in Phase Four.

■ The State Liquor Authority said on July 21 that since the onset of COVID-19, it has brought 410 charges against establishments for violating executive orders on social distancing and serving only alcohol and suspended 27 liquor licenses.

■ Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley launched a grant program called Pivoting to Respond to fund general operating costs for nonprofits and communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and its economic consequences. Each organization can apply for up to $10,000. Applications are available through Aug. 31 at communityfoundationshv.org. Community members can also contribute to the fund.

High school and college students participating in a summer internship program called Putnam Invests in Leaders of Tomorrow (PILOT) and run by the county volunteered last month to be trained as COVID-19 contact tracers. (Photo provided)

■ Putnam County Legislator Nancy Montgomery, whose district includes Philipstown, said on July 9 that residents should rely on the state for COVID-19 data rather than the county, which that week was “still reporting that there were zero active cases in Putnam. That’s untrue, unfortunately,” she said. “We continue to see it.” According to the county’s dashboard, which is updated each Friday, there were no coronavirus patients at Putnam Hospital Center in Carmel as of July 9 but the county had 23 new cases the previous week and 1,565 total cases. The state dashboard as of July 16 gave the Putnam total as 1,385.

■ The Philipstown Town Board tentatively scheduled its first in-person meeting since March for July 22 in the gymnasium at the Recreation Center in Garrison.

■ Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said that at least 13 of 39 new infections reported on July 13 were false positives, and nine were among prisoners. There was no evident connection between the other 17 cases, he said. False positives were also reported in neighboring counties, he said, and the state is investigating.

■ On July 10, the state permitted family members to visit residents at nursing homes and long-term-care facilities as long as the residents and staff have been free of COVID-19 for 28 days. Molinaro suggested that Dutchess residents send cards to Wingate at Beacon, 10 Hastings Dr., Beacon, NY 12508 to encourage residents.

■ On July 15, Republicans in the state Senate, including Sue Serino, whose district includes the Highlands, called on Democrats to subpoena the governor and the health commissioner to testify about a March 25 directive that nursing homes accept COVID-19 patients discharged from hospitals. “Inviting” officials to appear is inadequate, the Republicans said. The Department of Health last week issued a report saying the policy had not contributed to the thousands of deaths at nursing homes in the state, including 19 at Wingate at Beacon.

Emily Wynn

Emily Wynn of Garrison participated in a documentary called Viral Kids: Global Thoughts on the Pandemic.

■ Three Garrison residents — James Wynn (age 13), Emily Wynn (9) and Dylan Wynn (4) — participated in a 30-minute documentary created by two Australian filmmakers called Viral Kids: Global Thoughts on the Pandemic and posted at viralkids.net. More than 80 children and teenagers from 17 countries contributed videos responding to questions such as “What’s it like staying home?”, “Are you worried about your grandparents?” and “What is the first thing you’ll do after coronavirus?”

■ Cuomo on July 14 announced an emergency rental assistance program for low-income families funded through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, which is part of the CARES Act. Applications will be available from Homes and Community Renewal beginning Thursday (July 16).

■ State officials said that contact tracing found that 35 percent of people who attended a Fourth of July weekend party on Long Island became infected with COVID-19.

■ Due to a decline in cases, the Nuvance Health Convalescent Plasma Donation Centers at Danbury Hospital, Norwalk Hospital and Vassar Brothers Medical Center are no longer collecting donations from people who have recovered from COVID-19. Nuvance has 600 units in reserve of the plasma, which contains antibodies that can potentially help critically ill patients. More than 300 patients have been treated with in-house donations and those from the New York Blood Center and American Red Cross. Potential donors may still visit nuvancehealth.org to join the registry, which has nearly 2,200 names.

■ The Wappinger DMV reopened July 13 by appointment for license, permits and non-driver ID transactions. Call 845-298-4623 weekdays between 9 a.m. and noon or 1 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. In addition, a drop box has been installed at the Beacon DMV at 223 Main St. for license-plate surrenders, titles, new registrations, plate transfers and registration renewals. The Brewster DMV in Putnam County is also open by appointment.

■ Cuomo announced that the New York State Fair and all county fairs are canceled. The Dutchess and Putnam fairs already have been canceled.

■ Cuomo on July 8 said that the state will decide during the first week of August whether schools will reopen in the fall. Districts must submit a re-opening plan by July 31.

■ As of July 10, malls can open in regions that have entered Phase 4 of the state’s reopening schedule if they have installed an enhanced heating, ventilation and air conditioning filtration system and follow ventilation protocols.

■ The Field Hall Foundation, based in Cortlandt Manor, distributed $50,000 in COVID-10 emergency funds, including to Dutchess Responds, Putnam Community Cares and the Putnam COVID-19 Response Fund.

■ The Mid-Hudson Region began Phase 4 on July 7, which allowed low-risk indoor and outdoor arts and entertainment businesses, such as museums and historical sites, to operate, as well as media and film productions, at reduced capacity and with social-distancing guidelines. Also, outdoor social gatherings can be increased to 50 individuals and religious activities can take place at 50 percent of capacity.

■ The Dutchess County Office for the Aging said it would organize drive-through senior picnics, including at Memorial Field in Beacon on July 30. The agency is mailing invitations to residents who are 60 or older. Email ofa@dutchessny.gov for information.

■ The state announced on July 2 that the federal government provided $4.3 million in funds for emergency management agencies for COVID-19 planning, including $65,000 to Dutchess County, $21,800 to Putnam County and $1.8 million to New York City.

■ Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro on June 30 sent a memo to all of the county’s 1,800 employees announcing “a voluntary workforce separation incentive program,” according to the Poughkeepsie Journal. The program includes “three generous incentive options if they opt to retire or leave county service.” The county’s sales-tax revenue has already fallen by nearly $13 million so far this year.

■ Dutchess County on July 2 closed its mobile coronavirus testing facility at Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill. The county on Facebook that Nuvance Health, which operated the site, will continue to offer tests at its hospital and medical centers, and that the company had collected more than 47,600 at its four drive-through sites since March. To find a test site, click here.

■ Dutchess County reported on July 2 that its Coronavirus Hotline (845-486-3555) fielded nearly 8,000 calls, in 10 languages, over the previous 116 days. The call center which is staffed by county employees and Medical Reserve Corps volunteers, operates weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and currently receives about 35 calls a day. The Medical Reserve Corps last month registered its 1,000th member. The volunteers have logged 5,000 hours so far this year, compared to 4,200 in all of 2019.

Max’s on Main in Beacon offered advice to its customers. (Photo courtesy Beacon Bed & Breakfast)

■ Dutchess County created an alternate care site at Dutchess Community College to help if local hospitals exceeded capacity. With 176 rooms and 457 beds on four floors, the school’s Conklin Hall was prepared to receive hospital overflow with 50 professionals from multiple disciplines. Over the past 15 weeks, the county also has distributed 332,975 surgical masks, 110,935 fabric face masks, 107,237 N-95 and K-N95 masks, 42,103 gowns and 34,657 face shields.

■ On July 1, Cuomo said the state would delay the opening of indoor dining in New York City, due to an uptick in cases.

■ The state said it would create an enforcement department to supplement local enforcement of COVID-19 guidance and restrictions.

Click here for June entries


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