TOWN OF BETHEL, NY — Sullivan County officials held a Facebook town hall meeting on March 30 from the incident command center near the airport. Public Health Director Nancy McGraw said that Sullivan County is up to 106 confirmed cases of COVID-19. She said, “Thirty four of those cases have resolved and the people are healthy and are no longer under quarantine. A total of 632 people in the county have been tested and 526 people have tested negative.
McGraw said testing in the county has been done primarily through Catskill Regional Medical Center. There is a testing tent outside the emergency room. “People need to call and be screened first, because the hospital is following the priority screening protocol set out by the state health department in terms of conserving resources, McGraw said. “We aren’t testing anybody who wants a test. It’s simply not available, and this is a state-wide issue. There are other healthcare providers who are testing people based on the same clinical risk factors, such as Crystal Run Healthcare or the Greater Hudson Valley Healthcare System.”
McGraw spoke in front of the Sullivan County COVID-19 dashboard. It showed that Catskill Regional Medical Center, the Care Center at Sunset Lake, Achieve Rehab Center, Public Health Services, Roscoe Nursing Home, Public Health Services, Center for Discovery and Hudson River Healthcare all had less than a week’s supply of personal protection equipment (PPE). McGraw said many people were working on getting more and some donations have been coming in.
She also said the she had just found out “about the first confirmed death very recently, and we want to send condolences to the family.”
Members of the public had been asked to submit questions to the officials in advance. Legislator Michael Brooks read the questions from the audience. One person asked, “Why doesn’t Sullivan County have a map that shows the cases town by town as other counties do? There is [rumored] information that certain communities have clusters of cases.
McGraw said, “We’ve been discussing this with our team quite consistently over the last week, and we’ve been debating the pros and cons. The important thing for people to know, and the critical information that we want to get out, is that maps and data can be misinterpreted, can be misused. And we want to make sure that people understand that the general risk with this outbreak is the same no matter where you live. We will continue to look at the map issue … and if it serves a useful public benefit, we will be doing that.”
Addressing the issue of summer camps, Sheriff Mike Schiff said, “We have some Jewish summer camps and some regular summer camps. Our understanding is none of them are opening. We have talked to our liaisons within the communities and we have found that to be true.” He said that there was reported activity at a couple of the camps, but deputies looked into it and found no people were coming to the camps.
Schiff said some people who own weekend or summer homes are coming up, and staying in their homes, but Schiff said it seems that those people are self-quarantining and following the suggested guidelines.
Regarding a suspension of certificates of occupancy, as had been done by the Town of Fallsburg supervisor last week, county manager Josh Potosek said what Gov. Andrew Cuomo has done is taken away the power of counties and towns to issue unilateral orders without approval from the state.
“The reason is because he wanted to have a unified response, because it is a state-wide issue. He did it primarily because of the schools, he wanted to avoid a situation where different schools were closed for different lengths of time. The state executive order currently prohibits any gathering of any size that are not essential. It’s not a recommendation; there are to be no gatherings of any size at the current time,” Potosek said.