Coronavirus Update (August)

Town board workshop

The Philipstown Town Board workshop on Aug. 26 allowed room for debate. (Photo by L.S. Armstrong)

■ The president of Marist College in Poughkeepsie said on Aug. 21 the school had suspended 15 students for not following health guidelines at an off-campus party. “If this trend continues, we’ll have no choice but to completely close the campus and require students to finish the semester online,” he wrote.

■ Cuomo on Aug. 20 extended the moratorium on COVID-related commercial evictions and foreclosures until Sept. 20.

■ At SUNY New Paltz, a dozen students were in quarantine after two off-campus pick-up basketball games where one student later tested positive. As of Sept. 1, New Paltz had two active cases; Vassar (Town of Poughkeepsie) had 13 and Marist (Town of Poughkeepsie) had none.

■ Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Aug.  30 dispatched a team with 71 contact tracers and eight investigators to the SUNY Oneonta campus to contain a COVID-19 cluster that developed. The state will also open three rapid-testing sites in Oneonta. The action comes as SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras announced a two-week suspension of in-person instruction on campus.

■ In response to reports of students at large gatherings, the governor on Aug. 27 issued guidance for infection rates on college campuses and actions schools must take if the infection rate rises above certain levels. If a college has 100 cases or if the number of cases equals 5 percent or more of the student population, the school must go to remote learning for at least two weeks during which athletic activities and other extracurricular activities must be suspended and dining halls must move to take-out only. The college also must go to 100 percent distance learning if clusters strain the school’s ability to isolate and contact-trace, based on the assessment of the local or state health department, he said.

■ Putnam County issued a health alert on Aug. 25 that anyone who worked at or attended the 10 a.m. mass at St. James Church in Carmel on Aug. 23 or worked at or visited the Shop-Rite supermarket on Route 52 in Carmel from 1 to 3 p.m. on Aug. 23 may have been exposed to COVID-19. For testing information, visit putnamcountyny.com.

■ The state announced on Aug. 14 the launch of a $500,000 pilot program to detect the presence of COVID-19 in wastewater, designed to establish an early indicator system to forecast virus spread in communities. Newburgh is among the communities where samples will be collected.

■ Dutchess County received a state grant to hire five temporary public health advisors. See dutchessny.gov.

■ On Thursday (Aug. 13), Putnam County delivered its 3,000th bag of groceries to a senior in need. The Office of Senior Resources also prepares grab-and-go lunches at its Friendship Centers, including in Cold Spring. Other meals are delivered. The food is donated by the United Way of Putnam and Westchester and the Food Bank of Hudson Valley under the direction of Faith Butcher. Each Thursday, volunteers from the United Way, food banks and other organizations and local government sort and bag truckloads of goods, the county said. The Office of Senior Resources also offers a variety of telephone and internet programs, including Coffee and Conversation, Brain Fitness, virtual bingo, Zoom dancing, book club chats, caregiver support groups and online exercise classes. For information, call 845-808-1700.

■ On Aug. 17, the Economic Development Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce awarded a $400,000 CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to the Hudson Valley Regional Council, based in Newburgh, to update economic development plans and help programs that assist communities in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Established in 1977 to serve Dutchess, Putnam, Orange, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties, it offers planning, education, outreach and advocacy for communities in the region.

■ Cuomo said on Aug. 14 that bowling alleys will be allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity as of Monday (Aug. 17) with safety protocols in place, including mandatory face coverings and social distancing. In addition, every other lane must be closed; patrons need to stay with the party at their assigned lane; thorough cleaning and disinfection of shared or rented equipment between each use will be required; and all food service must follow all state-issued guidance.

■ The governor said on Aug. 14 that museums, aquariums and other “low-risk” cultural institutions in New York City may reopen at 25 percent capacity starting Monday (Aug. 24). These institutions must have timed ticketing with staggered entry, strict enforcement of face coverings, social distancing, controlled traffic flow to avoid crowding, and enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols, he said.

■ On Aug. 5, the state Department of Financial Services ruled that insurers must ensure that patients are not charged fees for personal protective equipment used by providers in the insurer’s network. The agency said it had received complaints that in-network healthcare providers, particularly dental providers, were charging fees for PPE or other costs related to COVID-19 protocols.

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