Sullivan continues virtual town hall series

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MONTICELLO, NY — In an effort to give citizens access to information and to ask questions, Sullivan County has been hosting a Facebook town hall series. The fifth such virtual town hall was held on April 13.

Hotel and restaurant entrepreneur Sims Foster was one of the invited guests. Foster and his wife, Kirsten Harlow Foster, own many visitor rooms in inns across the county and they have all been closed for a month as the tourism industry has been shut down.

Foster said one in five jobs in the county is tied to tourism, and the industry is responsible for generating $35 million in sales tax to the county every year. He said, like everyone else, he is not sure when the tourism industry will open again.

Foster also launched the nonprofit A Single Bite, meant to teach school children the difference between real food and processed food. That organization is now turning out 2,000 meals a week and distributing them to students through the school districts. He said the cost is running about $8,000 a week, and the non-profit is accepting donations.

Public health director Nancy McGraw said about 1,900 people have been tested for the novel coronavirus in the county and about 19.4 percent of people are testing positive, which is higher than surrounding counties. She was not sure of the reason.

Asked about testing for antibodies, she said such tests are being developed. When ready, the testing will probably be done through the Hudson Valley Healthcare System.  

County manager Josh Potosek said people are generally following the social distancing requirements set out by Gov. Andrew Cuomo through executive order. He said law enforcement dealt with one incident of a large gathering of people, but for the most part residents are following the rules.

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