Dutchess County Marks 25th COVID-19 Town Hall with Numerous Milestones

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Poughkeepsie, NY… Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro hosted his 25th COVID-19 online Town Hall via Facebook Live and highlighted many of the County’s milestones in the fight against coronavirus. The County Executive has hosted these online forums weekly since mid-March, providing updates and answering questions relating to coronavirus, County efforts, state actions and more. The forums have been a well-received resource with hundreds participating live and thousands viewing the forums in the archives. The archive of the online discussions, including today’s, can be viewed on Dutchess County Government’s YouTube page.

County Executive Molinaro said, “I am exceptionally proud of the things we’ve accomplished over the past four months. Our community was thrown headfirst into a public health crisis the likes of which we haven’t seen in generations, and we responded with professionalism, love, and strength. I am so incredibly proud and thankful for our exceptional public servants and volunteers who have been working around the clock for months to keep us all healthy and safe.”

County Executive Molinaro reviewed Dutchess County’s most recent COVID-19 data posted on the County’s COVID-19 data dashboard:

o 4,213 total confirmed cases
o 60,652 tests completed
o 179 current active cases
o 7 hospitalizations
o 151 deaths
o 3,883 recoveries

Accomplishments County Executive Molinaro highlighted from the past several months included:

• Dutchess County’s Coronavirus Hotline (845-486-3555) has fielded nearly 8,000 calls, in 10 different languages, over the last 116 days of operation. Staffed by county employees and Medical Reserve Corps volunteers, call center operators take time to listen to every caller and help them work through their unique situations. The call center made a seamless transition to move to remote operation for the health and safety of operators, with no disruption to service. At the height, of the pandemic, the call center operated 7 days a week. Currently, the call center operates Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm, averaging approximately 35 calls per day.

• The Dutchess Responds Food Connection, which provided critical connections to food resources during the peak of the pandemic, concluded its vital mission earlier this week, having delivered more than 14,000 meals over the last 14 weeks, as the demand for the program has waned. A collaboration between Dutchess County Government, Dutchess Outreach and the Community Action Partnership for Dutchess County, the program completed its successful service to families throughout the County adversely impacted by the pandemic. More than 660 inquiries were made to the Food Connection’s hotline, with nearly 600 households served by the program.

• Supporting local businesses and organizations has been paramount through the pandemic. At the outset in early March, County Executive Molinaro mobilized an economic Rapid Response Team, a coalition of local business community partners, and the Dutchess Business Notification Network was established, providing critical information and resources, including guidance about essential and non-essential designations. Since its inception, the network has communicated with over 9,000 local businesses and nonprofits with daily updates on resources, guidelines and information, as well as hosting supply drives to provide critical PPE to reopening businesses, webinars on new regulations and financial support options, and more.

• Additionally, the County Executive has hosted weekly and bi-weekly conference calls with community leaders, elected officials and others including school districts, college and faith-based communities, to ensure residents had access to accurate, timely, and transparent information throughout the pandemic.

• The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) of Dutchess County registered its 1,000th member in June, seeing its ranks of volunteer swell during the pandemic. The MRC of Dutchess County, which supports the County’s departments of Emergency Response and Behavioral & Community Health when responding to incidents of all kinds, boasted a robust membership of 488 volunteers at the end of 2019. During 2020, membership more than doubled in less than six months, reaching 1,000 by mid-June.

The County’s MRC members recorded 4,200 volunteers hours in 2019, a record at the time; as of earlier this week, MRC volunteers this year had logged nearly 5,000 hours, already surpassing the 2019 total and, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics calculations, contributing $138,000 in economic value to the County through late June.

MRC volunteers are active and vital throughout the year, not just during the current pandemic, assisting the County at Office for the Aging senior picnics, citizen preparedness trainings and healthcare drills, among other activities. Members also take part in engaging trainings and seminars throughout the year.

• Dutchess County created an alternate care site at Dutchess Community College to help if local hospitals exceeded their capacity. With 176 rooms, 457 beds on four different floors, DCC’s Conklin Hall was prepared to receive hospital overflow with 50 medical and non-medical professionals from multiple disciplines, including primarily MRC volunteers. However, because of individual efforts like social distancing and wearing face coverings, as well as efforts by the County early on, including prohibiting large gatherings and closing schools, public health officials and the County’s partners at Nuvance Health made the decision that the DCC Recovery Site was no longer necessary, and the recovery center was decommissioned in May.

• For 15 weeks, employees and volunteers from the Department of Emergency Response, Office of Central Services, and Medical Reserve Corps of Dutchess County, who made up the “COVID Supply Unit,” have helped receive shipments, coordinate deliveries, and even assemble face shields and COVID-19 testing kits. In total, the team distributed critical personal protective equipment (PPE) to hospitals, nursing homes, first responders, adult care facilities, congregate care facilities and group homes, doctor and dentist offices, and other healthcare professionals, including:

o 332,975 Surgical Masks
o 110,935 Fabric Face Masks
o 107,237 N-95 and K-N95 masks
o 42,103 Gowns
o 34,657 Face Shields

• Since the County reported its first positive COVID-19 case in mid-March, its Office for the Aging (OFA), through its Home Delivered Meals (HDM) program, has served 25,000 meals to seniors who were added to the program as a result of the pandemic, as more seniors remained homebound as the result of social-distancing guidelines. By April, a month after the pandemic first affected Dutchess County, the OFA delivered 350 percent more home-delivered meals than before the County’s first COVID-19 case was reported.

• Dutchess County has 373 trained contact tracers, including County employees, MRC members and community volunteers. Following an abrupt decision by New York State Department of Health to change contact tracer numbers requirements, Dutchess County launched a community volunteer recruiting program. Thanks to the more than 600 individuals who volunteered to become contact tracers, Dutchess County was able to enter Phase 1 on May 26th.

• In March, County Executive Molinaro signed an executive order allowing the previously vacant temporary housing units (PODs) at the Dutchess County Law Enforcement Center and Jail Campus to be repurposed as Emergency Shelters for those in need. The County partnered with Hudson River Housing (HRH), Mental Health America (MHA), Dutchess Outreach and the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office to offer 24/7 shelter and other services to as many as 100 individuals throughout the pandemic.

• The County’s Department of Community and Family Services (DCFS) worked with local childcare providers to increase day care availability and eligibility for local families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. By eliminating the “family share” requirement and increasing eligibility standards, DCFS has been able to ensure day care for 1,086 children from 543 families as of June 2nd.

• Dutchess County Government has provided a wealth of online information through the Dutchess County website throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

o Since going live on March 31, COVID-19 Community Impact Dashboard has had over 934,000 visits.
o Launched in February, Dutchess County Coronavirus webpage, dutchessny.gov/coronavirus, has had more 1.1 million views.
o Launched in May, the Dutchess County Restarting Dutchess webpage has had nearly 80,000 visits.

Starting next week, County Executive Molinaro will shift to one online town hall forum per week to be held on Wednesdays. The next COVID-19 Town Hall on Wednesday, July 8th at 12:30 p.m. As with all previous online town hall forums, the event will be broadcast live on the Dutchess County Government Facebook page, and American Sign Language interpreters will translate the conversation. For information on how to participate and view past online COVID-19 community conversations, view the County’s Coronavirus webpage.