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Haldane students quarantine after staff member tests positive
■ State health officials said that, as of Saturday (Feb. 6), 7,592 (+34 from the day before) people had tested positive for COVID-19 in Putnam County; 19,996 (+131) in Dutchess; 97,908 (+685) in Westchester; 35,628 (+133) in Rockland; 9,121 (+57) in Ulster; and 33,425 (+179) in Orange. Statewide, there have been 1,470,772 (+10,025) positives, including 627,800 (+5,282) in New York City.
■ For vaccine updates, click here.
■ Statewide, 36,224 (+143) people had died as of Feb. 6, including 82 (+0) residents of Putnam County and 381 (+4) from Dutchess.
■ For the latest county and state numbers, click here.
■ Beacon had 43 active cases as of Feb. 5 and Putnam had 394 for the week ending Jan. 28, with 50 new cases reported in Philipstown, which has had 655 since March. There were 200 new cases in Carmel, 52 in Kent, 61 in Patterson, 59 in Putnam Valley and 82 in Southeast. Eighteen people were hospitalized at Putnam Hospital in Carmel.
■ In Dutchess County, there were 3,584 tests conducted on Feb. 6 and 131 positives reported, and in Putnam, there were 957 tests and 34 positives reported. The percentage of positive results in the Mid-Hudson Region was 5.2 percent.
■ Dutchess had conducted 476,488 tests as of Feb. 6 and had 4.2 percent positives, while Putnam had conducted 146,891 tests and had 5.2 percent positives.
■ Statewide, there were 250,892 tests conducted on Feb. 6 and 10,025 positives, or 4 percent.
■ The number of people with COVID-19 who are hospitalized in New York state as of Feb. 6 stood at 7,649 (-155); the number in intensive care was 1,459 (-22); and the number of intubations was 979 (-16). In the Mid-Hudson Valley, 43 percent of hospital beds were available and 41 percent of ICU beds.
■ A group of Haldane elementary, middle and high school students have been ordered to quarantine because a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. Superintendent Phil Benante said in an email to parents on Friday (Feb. 5) that the district was notified that day of the positive test. The staff member was last on campus on Thursday (Feb. 4), he said. Benante also said that six students working remotely have tested positive in the last few weeks. Information on positive cases for each school district can be found at the state COVID-19 School Dashboard.
■ Active cases in Dutchess County have fallen dramatically since reaching a pandemic-high 2,576 on Jan. 16. The active-case count stood at 1,267 on Thursday (Feb. 4).
■ New York state has identified 59 known cases of the UK. variant of COVID-19, including in Ulster and Westchester counties, the state said on Friday (Feb. 5). The variant is more contagious than the original strain and has also been found in: New York City and Jefferson, Niagara, Allegany, Tompkins, Nassau, Suffolk, Saratoga, Onondaga, Warren and Essex counties.
■ In addition to forcing the cancellation of vaccination clinics, the massive snowstorm that hit the Mid-Hudson Region on Monday (Feb. 1) appears to have also depressed COVID-19 tests for Dutchess and Putnam. Putnam tested 610 people, the county’s lowest number of daily tests since Nov. 21. In Dutchess, 1,882 people took tests on Monday, the county’s smallest one-day total since Jan. 4.
■ On Monday (Feb. 1), Attorney General Letitia James said her office has renewed its suspension, until Feb. 28, of the collection of medical and student debt owed to state. She also said that residents seeking relief from the collection of non-medical and non-student debts owed to the state can fill out an application online or call the Office of the Attorney General hotline, 800-771-7755.
■ New York’s 7-day average positivity rate has fallen for 23 straight days, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday (Jan. 31). The 7-day average was 5.2 percent as of Saturday, the lowest rate since Dec. 14. “The news is very good, but keep an eye on the UK. variants and the other variants because all of them suggest more diligence will be needed,” said Cuomo.
■ Both Dutchess and Putnam counties are seeing their daily positivity rates, the percentage of COVID-19 tests that are positive, fall over the last seven days of data reporting. After averaging 8.2 percent from the beginning of January to Jan. 22, the positivity rate in Dutchess averaged 6.3 percent from Jan. 23 to Friday (Jan. 29). Putnam averaged 6.1 percent during the seven-day period, compared to 8.5 percent for the rest of January. Overall, new cases are declining in the state overall, a trend state officials attribute to the waning of a surge triggered by holiday travel and gatherings.
■ With New York City’s infection rate falling, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Friday (Jan. 29) that the city’s restaurants can resume indoor dining at 25 percent capacity on Valentine’s Day. Along with the capacity limit, restaurants will have to follow other guidelines.
■ Brides and grooms can resume holding wedding receptions starting March 15, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Friday (Jan. 29). Events must be approved by local health departments and be limited to 50 percent capacity and no more than 150 people. Each guest must be tested to COVID-19 before the event, said Cuomo.
■ On Thursday (Jan. 29), Vera’s Marketplace & Garden Center in Cold Spring announced that it will be closed temporarily after being told that a possible COVID-19 exposure took place there at the beginning of the week.
■ Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Wednesday (Jan. 27) that, because of declines in new cases and hospitalization rates, all orange zone and some yellow zone restrictions have been lifted, except for remaining yellow zones in Newburgh and the Bronx, Queens and Washington Heights in New York City. Existing statewide restrictions remain for areas no longer in orange and yellow zones, including capacity limits for certain businesses and restrictions on mass gatherings, said Cuomo.
■ Dutchess, Putnam and the five other Mid-Hudson Region counties said on Wednesday (Jan. 27) that they will authorize basketball, football, lacrosse, volleyball and other “high-risk” school sports to begin on Monday (Feb. 1) after discussions with local health officials. Competitive cheerleading and dance, ice hockey, martial arts, rugby and wrestling are among the other sports allowed to begin. Each district has the option of prohibiting students to play. “The health and safety of students, staff and the local community during this pandemic must be each district’s first priority,” said MaryEllen Odell, Putnam’s county executive.
■ On Wednesday (Jan. 27), Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that additional cases of the United Kingdom variant of COVID-19 have been found in Long Island and New York City, and in Westchester, Saratoga, Tompkins, Niagara, Onondaga, Essex and Warren counties. The state has found 42 cases total of the variant, which is more contagious.
■ On Tuesday (Jan. 26), Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney announced that the MTA is receiving $600,000 in federal funding to study how COVID-19 is dispersed in the air on mass transit systems.
■ As of Sunday (Jan. 24), the number of Dutchess County residents testing positive for COVID-19 each day was falling after hitting a high of 384 on Jan. 14 — during a nine-day period when the new cases averaged 277 per day. Dutchess was averaging 216 new COVID-19 cases a day since Jan. 14. On Friday (Jan. 22), the state reported 199 new cases in Dutchess, the county’s first day under 200 since Jan. 5. Putnam was averaging 80 new cases a day since Jan. 14, compared to 90 during the first two weeks of the month.
■ On Monday (Jan. 25), Garrison school Superintendent Carl Albano said the district’s students will remain on virtual learning through Friday (Jan. 29) because of staff illnesses and COVID-19 quarantines. In-person instruction will resume on Monday (Feb. 1), Albano said in an email to parents and guardians. “I thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate these very challenging conditions,” said Albano.
■ On Jan. 21, the state extended the open enrollment period to apply for health insurance at NY State of Health has been extended through March 31. Coverage will begin on March 1 for those who enroll by Feb. 15; on April 1 for those who enroll by March 15; and on May 1 for those who enroll by March 31. Individuals who are eligible for Medicaid, Essential Plan and Child Health Plus can enroll yearround. See nystateofhealth.ny.gov or call 855-355-5777 for assistance.
■ As of Jan. 22, according to the State COVID Report Card, Haldane had reported 23 students and 10 teachers/staff who had tested positive; Garrison reported five students and six teachers/staff; and Beacon reported 58 students and 32 teachers/staff.
■ Haldane school Superintendent Phil Benante notified parents on Tuesday (Jan. 19) that he was quarantining after testing positive for COVID-19. In an email, Benante said he was told on Saturday (Jan. 16) that a person he was in contact with outside of school tested positive. Anyone he was in direct contact with last Thursday and Friday have been notified, Benante said. “I share this information with you in the spirit of remaining candid about my absence from campus. My symptoms are very mild thus far and I look forward to being back soon,” he wrote.
■ On Jan. 17, the Garrison School announced that some students in the fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth grades would quarantine for 10 days because an employee who was at the school on Jan. 13 and 14 had tested positive. On Jan. 16, Haldane announced that some students would be quarantined after an elementary school staff member who had last been on campus on Jan. 13 and a member of the school services staff who had last been on campus on Jan. 14 had each tested positive.
■ 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.
■ On Wednesday (Jan. 13), the Haldane school district reported an elementary student who had been at school as recently as Monday had tested positive. As a result, a small group of elementary students and staff have to quarantine as directed by the Putnam County Department of Health, said Superintendent Philip Benante. He said that because all spaces in the school are cleaned daily in accordance with federal guidelines, Haldane schools would remain open.
■ The Beacon Highway Department and Transfer Station announced on Monday (Jan. 11) that it will be closed until Jan. 19 “due to COVID-19 protocols.” If you need assistance, leave a message at 845-831-0932 or call City Hall at 845-838-5000.
■ On Jan. 7, organizers said the Southern Dutchess Coalition Annual Martin Luther King Birthday Celebration, scheduled for Jan. 18 at the Springfield Baptist Church in Beacon, has been canceled because of the pandemic shutdown.
■ On Jan. 8, the Dutchess County health department announced it had partnered with Rumble Up, a texting platform, to communicate with residents who test positive for COVID-19. “Across the state, as the high volume of new daily positive cases continues, it has become increasingly difficult for case investigators to connect with individuals who test positive in a timely manner, even with additional staffing resources available,” the agency said in a statement. “The texting application provides those who test positive for COVID with important information about how to properly isolate and notify close contacts to prevent the spread of the virus, as well as other resources and information.” The platform also allows the health department “to concurrently alert multitudes of residents of their positive test results and offer them follow-up instructions regarding quarantining — alleviating the already-overwhelmed contact tracing and case investigation apparatus.”
■ On Jan. 5, the Putnam County Health Department said the uptick in cases in Philipstown — it reported about a fourth of its total cases since March during the week ending Dec. 31 — was “due to an isolated, contained cluster within a congregate setting,” e.g., a group residence. Shanna Siegel, a public health nurse with the county, said “the result of this cluster will be evident on next week’s dashboard, as well. This cluster is only one aspect of the overall increase in positive cases. Communities across Putnam County are beginning to see the early effects of holiday gatherings — the full impact will be felt in the coming weeks as we continue to see case numbers rise and higher rates of hospitalizations.”
■ On Jan. 6, Jonathan Hotz, a representative of the Graymoor religious order in Garrison, said there had been an outbreak at St. Christopher’s Inn, its homeless shelter for men. “On Dec. 22, a shelter resident who had begun exhibiting symptoms tested positive for the coronavirus,” he said. “This triggered a lockdown and testing among our entire resident population. Several residents tested positive and/or subsequently became symptomatic themselves.” He said all shelter residents were restricted to a single building and had no contact with the public. “In addition, we contacted the Putnam County Department of Health, which has been a great resource for us. Further, our on-site medical staff continues to monitor the condition of our residents, with daily guidance and support from the department. “The worst is behind us,” he said. “Most men in the shelter are scheduled to complete and screen out of isolation and quarantine by Jan. 10, and symptomatic residents are stable and recovering.” In addition, he said, all residents who tested negative were vaccinated on Jan. 6 and vaccinations were being offered to staff members at St. Christopher’s Inn and Graymoor who had contact with shelter residents.
■ The state announced on Jan. 4 the first confirmed case of the more-contagious UK strain of COVID-19 virus had been detected in an individual in Saratoga Springs. Two other related cases were discovered as of Jan. 9, as well as a case on Long Island. It does not appear that the strain is more deadly.
■ The governor extended his state of emergency order through Feb. 3, allowing public meetings to continue to be held remotely.
■ The state on Dec. 29 announced new quarantine guidelines: Individuals exposed to COVID-19 can end their quarantine after 10 days without testing, instead of 14, as long as they do not have symptoms.
■ 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.
■ The federal government extended a temporary moratorium for most evictions until Jan. 31. To be eligible, renters must have experienced a “substantial” loss of household income, a layoff or “extraordinary” out-of-pocket medical expenses and can’t expect to earn more than $99,000 in 2020 (or $198,000 for married people filing their tax returns jointly). This declaration form is required.
■ 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.”
■ The state has established a COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline at 844-863-9314 for mental health counseling and resources. Health care workers can text NYFRONTLINE to 741-741 to access 24/7 emotional support services. For more information see omh.ny.gov.
What If I Feel Sick?
You’re feeling ill, with a cough, fever, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. What should you do?
“It’s important to emphasize that the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 remains low,” the Putnam Hospital Center advises patients on its website. “Most infected people will experience mild upper respiratory symptoms.
“Some people, including the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes and heart disease, are at greater risk and may require more intensive care and/or hospitalization.”
If you feel ill, the hospital says the first step is to contact your doctor. Many offer “virtual” visits by teleconference. If you visit your doctor’s office or an urgent care, call first to let them know of your symptoms. Only go to the emergency department or call 911 if you are in urgent distress, and let the dispatcher know that you may have been exposed to COVID-19.
If your doctor believes you have COVID-19, he or she can order a test, which allows you to make an appointment by phone at a drive-thru facility. At the facility, a sample will be collected and sent for testing.
For general questions about COVID-19, Putnam Hospital Center operates a hotline staffed by nurses daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 888-667-9262. A representative for the hospital said that most callers (1) ask about symptoms and what to do if exposed to someone who has COVID-19; (2) believe they have symptoms, in which case they are referred to their doctor; or (3) ask how they can donate equipment such as masks, anti-bacterial soap and, in one case, a pediatric ventilator.
The hospital has a list of commonly asked questions and responses posted at nuvancehealth.org. The state Department of Health also has a hotline at 888-364-3065 that is open around the clock to answer general questions or for information about testing sites.
■ Questions? Dutchess County posts updates at dutchessny.gov and has a hotline at 845-486-3555. Putnam County posts info at putnamcountyny.com. New York State has a hotline at 888-364-3065 and a webpage at coronavirus.health.ny.gov, which is also where you can find a testing site. The state also created an email list to provide updates. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posts updates at cdc.gov.
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