Coronavirus Updates (December)

State revises microcluster strategy

■ On Oct. 21, the state Department of Health announced a microcluster strategy to limit the spread of COVID, based on county population. Here are the current hot spots. On Dec. 11, the state revised its criteria for the Yellow Zone. A geographic area will be eligible if it has a 3 percent positivity rate (7-day average) over the past 10 days and is in the top 10 percent in the state for hospital admissions per capita over the past week and is experiencing week-over-week growth in daily admissions. As of Jan. 12, the 7-day rolling average positivity rate in Dutchess was 8.9 percent and the average in Putnam was 8.5 percent but the counties did not meet other criteria.

■ In response to a question, the Putnam County Health Department posted on Twitter: “(1) There are a few reasons for discrepancies between new and active cases [in reports]. Sometimes, by the time the lab is received, the individual has already completed isolation. That’s usually 10 days from the start of symptoms. (2) Most people aren’t tested the same day they become ill, and it can take a number of days to receive a test result. We also have to verify addresses and complete case investigations before they are included on the dashboard. (3) Since the dashboard is released weekly, there are also people who complete isolation in the week leading up to the day the dashboard is shared.”

■ The state opened a new eligibility period and expanded the qualifications for a one-time COVID rent-subsidy program for low-income residents. Applicants must have lost income between April 1 and July 31 and before March 7 have been at or below 80 percent of the area median household income, adjusted for household size (e.g., $81,840 annually for a family of four). The new application period opens Feb. 1. Approved subsidies will be paid to the applicant’s landlord. Residents who have previously applied do not need to reapply. For details, see hcr.ny.gov/RRP.

■ Dutchess County outlined on Dec. 22 how it planned to allocate the more than $2.3 million it received through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act: about $1.3 million for eviction prevention; $450,000 for economic relief for businesses with five or fewer employees (including the owner); $400,000 for child care for low- and moderate-income parents balancing work and student remote learning; and $150,000 for municipal projects promoting food security and safety for seniors, including $25,000 to the City of Beacon.

■ On Dec. 21, British Airways and Delta Airlines said they would require a COVID-19 test before allowing passengers to board planes traveling from the UK to New York.

■ On Dec. 19, the state said local governments could allow low-income senior citizens and persons with disabilities to receive property tax exemptions for 2021 without appearing in person to apply.

■ Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro hosted his 50th virtual town hall on Dec. 22 about the COVID-19 shutdown. They take place via the county’s Facebook page.

■ On Wednesday (Dec. 9), Haldane Superintendent Philip Benante announced the district would switch to all-virtual learning until the holiday break because a number of staff members and 10 percent of the student body were in quarantine following a case at the school. The high school, which was on a hybrid schedule, would move to all-virtual on Dec. 10, with in-person classes scheduled to resume on Jan. 4, after the holiday break. Elementary and middle school, where students had been attending in-person daily (except for those who opted for virtual), would go virtual on Monday (Dec. 21) and also return in-person on Jan. 4.

■ Effective Dec. 14, the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office in Poughkeepsie will change its in-person lobby access to Civil Bureau, Pistol Permit Bureau and Records Bureau services. Access will be by appointment only between 8 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. For Civil Bureau matters, call 845-486-3840. For Pistol Permit Bureau matters call 845-486-3883 or 845-486-3896. For Records Bureau matters, call 845-486-3810. The modified lobby access will not impact law enforcement services. Deputy sheriffs are available in the lobby 24 hours a day. For police assistance call 845-486-3800.

■ On Dec. 9, the Garrison School announced its middle-school students would go all-virtual as of Dec. 10 after an employee tested positive.

■ The Dutchess County health department is hiring for temporary positions to assist staff with data entry, call-taking and COVID rapid testing. The positions, which offer up to 30 hours of employment per week, require either graduation from high school or possession of an equivalency diploma/GED; for a COVID testing assignment, preferred qualifications include experience as an EMT, paramedic, LPN, CNA, RN or training in first aid and/or medical training.

■ In Beacon, Brother’s Trattoria closed through Dec. 12, according to a Facebook post by the restaurant, because it was informed that a patron who dined there on Nov. 27 and Nov. 28 has tested positive for COVID. “Out of an abundance of caution, we are closing the restaurant for 10 days, performing deep disinfection procedures and our entire staff will be tested,” it said.

■ On Dec. 2, Major Andrew Bigelow, chief of public health at Keller Army Community Hospital at West Point, provided an update of the situation on base and in Orange County and the Hudson Valley.

■ On Wednesday (Dec. 2), Haldane Superintendent Philip Benante wrote that “as of today, we received notice of three members of the school community who tested positive for COVID. Given the timing of when these individuals were last on campus and when they became symptomatic, it is not necessary to close the school for additional cleaning or contact tracing. I have reviewed each of the cases with the Putnam County Department of Health and our district physician who confirmed that our district has followed all appropriate health and safety protocols.”

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