Mid-Hudson looks to Phase 2; governor allows businesses to require masks
■ State health officials said that, as of Saturday (May 30), 1,248 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Putnam County, 3,899 in Dutchess, 33,429 in Westchester, 13,128 in Rockland, 1,678 in Ulster and 10,389 in Orange. Statewide, there were 369,660 positives, including 202,751 in New York City.
■ Statewide, 23,848 people had died as of May 30, including 60 residents of Putnam County and 142 from Dutchess.
■ Dashboards released by Dutchess and Putnam showed that, as of May 30, Beacon had 97 active cases and Philipstown had 118. Dutchess had conducted 31,090 tests and reported 12.5 percent were positive for COVID-19, while Putnam had conducted 8,995 tests and reported 13.9 percent positive.
■ Long Island joined the Mid-Hudson Region for Phase 1 of the state reopening plan, which allows for construction, manufacturing, agriculture, forestry and fishing industries to operate. Retail stores can also operate with delivery and curbside pickup. Only New York City remains short of the seven criteria required for Phase 1. The reopening does not include the Department of Motor Vehicles, which remains closed until at least June 6.
■ The Putnam County Office for Senior Resources will be offering free washable cotton face coverings to residents age 60 or older from noon to 2 p.m. on Friday (June 5) and Monday (June 8) at the Philipstown Friendship Center at 1756 Route 9D (Lahey Pavilion). Signage will be posted directing cars and walk-ins. Seniors driving in are to remain in their cars and the face coverings will be handed to them on a tray.
■ On Friday (May 29), Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country and Southern Tier regions could begin Phase 2 of the state’s re-opening plan. He also said New York City was on track to begin Phase 1 on June 8.
■ On May 28, Cuomo signed an order to allow private businesses to deny entry to anyone who isn’t wearing a mask or face covering.
■ In conjunction with the Poughkeepsie Healthy Black and Lantinx Coalition, the Dutchess County Human Rights Commission will co-host two COVID-19 virtual community forums on wellness and mental health. The first will be held in English on Tuesday (June 2) at 3:30 p.m. and second in Spanish on Thursday (June 4) at 3:30 p.m. The free forums will be held over Zoom. To register for June 2, visit bit.ly/COVID19convening. To register for June 4, visit bit.ly/COVIDforo. Each forum will include presentations from Dr. Anil Vaidian, commissioner of the Department of Behavioral & Community Health, Ellen Marx, the chief psychologist at DBCH and Marylen Irizarry-Moyer, a healthcare navigator from Public Education Fund NY.
■ Metro-North announced on May 27 that all customers are required to wear a mask or face covering on its property and to maintain social distance, “particularly while in Metro-North stations, on our platforms, and in Grand Central Terminal.” It also asked riders “to board trains at all available doors and to take seats that maximize social distancing” and recommended that customers travel, if possible, during non-peak hours, before 7 a.m. and after 6 p.m., and only for essential travel. The agency said it sanitizes its stations every 12 hours and its trains every 24 hours.
■ The Putnam County Business Council has put out a call for volunteer contact tracers for the Mid-Hudson Region’s anticipated eligibility for Phases 2, 3, and 4 of the state’s reopening plan. Volunteers must complete a six-hour online training course. They work remotely to reach out to the contacts of anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 to assess symptoms, ensure quarantine compliance and determine support needs. To volunteer, call Jan Miller at 845-808-1650 ext. 46103, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The state is also hiring contact tracers. See coronavirus.health.ny.gov.
■ In Dutchess County, as of May 27, more than 500 people had volunteered to train as contact tracers, and more than 280 had completed the training. The county was required to have 250 contact tracers for the region to enter Phase 1.
■ NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital in Cortlandt Manor celebrated the discharge of its 250th COVID-19 patient.
■ Dutchess County reported on May 27 that tests completed at four of its 13 licensed nursing homes of more than 280 residents identified nine residents with COVID-19 — all at The Grand at Pawling. Eight were asymptomatic and are being cared for in a separate, secure area of the facility. The ninth had already been isolated.
■ Cuomo appointed Molinaro and Putnam Executive MaryEllen Odell to an 11-person “control room” set up to monitor compliance with the metrics and oversee reopening of the Mid-Hudson region.
■ Dutchess County Public Transit, including the Beacon Free Loop, will return to its regular schedule on Saturday, June 6. Social distancing guidelines will be enforced; drivers will wear masks and gloves; and passengers will be required to wear face coverings to board.
■ On May 22, Cuomo announced the launch of a $100 million loan fund for small businesses, nonprofits and small landlords that did not receive federal assistance and who have 20 or fewer employees and less than $3 million in gross revenues. See esd.ny.gov/nyforwardloans.
■ Campgrounds and RV parks will be allowed to open statewide on May 25, and veterinarian practices will be allowed to open statewide on May 26.
■ The Dutchess County health department on May 21 said school districts, including Beacon, can hold commencement exercises only if participants remain in their vehicles, such as in parking lots, drive-in theaters or convoys.
■ At Haldane High School, officials said they are considering a video production of all the aspects of graduation with individual time slots for students to graduate at the knoll, as well as a small ceremony on campus over the weekend of June 20-21 subject to public health guidelines and approvals that will be livestreamed online. An optional “scoop the loop” is also planned for June 10. The school district also revised its calendar to move up the last day of school to Friday, June 12. The Garrison School also said it would end school on June 12.
■ Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley dispersed its third round of grants from the Putnam COVID-19 Respond Fund. It distributed $26,000 to the Brewster Community Food Pantry, CoveCare Center, Mental Health Association in Putnam County, Patterson Presbyterian Food Pantry, Putnam Valley Community Food Pantry, SPACE on Ryder Farm, and St. John’s the Evangelist Food Pantry.
■ Cuomo said on May 12 that county health departments will be in charge of determining if businesses that reopen are complying with social-distancing rules. Counties will also be in charge of penalizing businesses.
■ As of May 21, the Dutchess Responds Food Connection, established in March, had received 506 requests for food and made 707 deliveries, averaging 18 deliveries per day. Each delivery consists of three meals per day for three days. Residents in need of food resources can request free deliveries of meals by filling out an online form or by calling the Dutchess County Coronavirus Hotline at 845-486-3555 and selecting Option 5. In addition, the Dutchess County Office for the Aging has delivered 34,000 meals to seniors since March 16.
■ The state said that, as of May 21, it would allow, with social distancing and masks, religious gatherings of no more than 10 people, along with drive-in and parking-lot services. After the New York Civil Liberties Union filed suit, calling the order unconstitutional because it applied only to religious organizations and Memorial Day observations, on May 22 Cuomo issued a new order allowing gatherings of up to 10 people “for any lawful purpose or reason” in any part of the state, including New York City, as long as social distancing is maintained.
■ Empire State Development released an online tool to help businesses determine when they will be able to reopen.
Step by Step
There is a 14-day period between phases once the criteria for each is met, which is based on the incubation period of COVID-19.
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
Retail (curbside or in-store pickup/drop-off)
Real Estate / Rental & Leasing
Restaurants / Food Services
Arts / Entertainment / Recreation
■ The state on May 20 said that libraries are permitted to operate if they are “government facilities” or if the local government determines that it operates the library or that the library district is a “political subdivision.” Staff must be reduced by 50 percent and libraries are “encouraged, but not required, to reference and employ the state’s curbside and in-store pickup retail guidance.” Butterfield in Cold Spring and Desmond-Fish in Garrison are “association” libraries and so cannot open yet, but the Howland Public Library in Beacon is a district library and could potentially open in a limited way once Phase 1 begins in the Mid-Hudson. The New York Library Association has been lobbying for libraries to be allowed to re-open once a region reaches Phase 2.
■ The state also allowed the opening of hunting and fishing clubs; single-student horseback riding; occupational and physical therapy when prescribed by a medical professional; and dog walking, animal boarding and pet grooming “to the extent necessary to ensure animal health.”
■ On May 20, the governor said antibody testing survey at churches in lower-income New York City communities and communities of color show 27 percent of individuals tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, compared with 19.9 percent of the city’s overall population. The data was collected from 8,000 individuals.
■ Cuomo announced on Tuesday (May 19) that the state would begin a pilot program at 16 hospitals, including Westchester Medical Center but no hospitals in Dutchess or Putnam, to allow visitors.
■ The Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley announced the third round of grants from its Dutchess Responds fund, for $59,000, distributed to Friends of Historic Hyde Park, Hudson River Housing, Hudson Valley Hospice Foundation, Mediation Center of Dutchess County, Holy Light Pentecostal Church, Jayne Brooks Food Pantry at the Episcopal Church of the Messiah, Poughkeepsie Farm Project, Rhinebeck Reformed Church Food Pantry, Unshattered and the Wassaic Project.
■ The state on May 17 launched a website to allow residents to find testing sites. See coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-testing. The state has more than 700 testing sites, Cuomo said.
■ In a Town Hall held on May 13, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said the final two criteria the Mid-Hudson Region must meet to begin Phase 1 of reopening – 14 consecutive days of decline in new hospitalizations and 14 consecutive days of decline in deaths – will prove difficult because a single day with an increase resets the 14-day clock. He said that as a result, the region could be forced to wait longer than anticipated.
■ Cuomo added Westchester and Rockland to the list of counties that can resume elective surgeries.
■ On May 15, Cuomo extended the state’s stay-at-home order through June 13. He also added hair stylists to the list of non-essential businesses that will be able to open in Phase 2.
■ The state budget director said on May 15 that if New York does not receive funds from the federal government by the end of May, it would begin implementing 20 percent cuts in aid to schools, hospitals and local governments.
■ The governor announced on May 15 that state beaches will be open, with restrictions in place, effective Friday, May 22. The restrictions are (1) no more than 50 percent capacity by ensuring controlled exits/entrances and limiting parking; (2) no group contact activities, including sports (e.g. volleyball, football); (3) areas of social gathering closed (e.g. designated picnic areas, playgrounds, pavilions, arcades, amusement rides); (4) social distancing measures for both employees and visitors; (5) masks worn by all employees and visitors when social distancing is not possible; (6) no concessions; and (7) ensuring staff levels are adequate to achieve these measures and enforce crowd control. City, town and county beaches can open under the same conditions, he said.
■ Cuomo said on May 13 that tests of 2,750 members of the New York State Police found that 3.1 percent had COVID-19 antibodies. In addition, tests of 3,000 corrections officials found that 7.5 percent had the antibodies. That compares to 12.3 percent of the general statewide population.
■ Mutual Aid Beacon is selling washable cotton masks at myshopify.com. For each mask purchased for $10, two masks are made and distributed to frontline workers, including farm and domestic workers.
■ On May 10, Cuomo announced he would issue an order mandating that all nursing homes and adult care facilities test all personnel for COVID-19 two times per week and report any positive test results to the state Department of Health by the next day. The order also will mandate that hospitals cannot discharge a patient to a nursing home unless that patient tests negative for COVID-19.
■ The Desmond-Fish Public Library in Garrison has partnered with Split Rock Books in Cold Spring to offer a limited number of books for checkout. See splitrockbks.com. Books will be delivered or picked up from the bookstore and can be kept until restrictions are lifted.
■ Cuomo on Thursday (May 7) announced that a moratorium on COVID-related residential or commercial evictions would be extended 60 days, until Aug. 20. The governor also announced the state is banning late payments or fees for missed rent payments and allowing renters facing financial hardship to use their security deposit as payment and repay it over time.
■ Cuomo extended the shutdown in New York until at least May 15. The state also established a hotline at 833-789-0470 to report violations.
■ New York is hiring contact tracers to track COVID-19 infections. For more information, or to apply, click here.
■ The Putnam County Office of Senior Resources encourages seniors to contact its staff, which is working remotely, to identify virtual programs. “Social distancing does not have to mean isolation, especially for seniors,” said Michael Cunningham, the agency’s director. The office has been offering Coffee and Conversation, book clubs, brain fitness groups, Zoom social dancing, strength and balance exercise classes, caregiver support groups, TeleBingo and robotic pets. Visit putnamcountyny.com/OSR or call 845-808-1700.
■ Sandy Galef, whose Assembly district includes Philipstown, has invited constituents to share “smart, practical public health ideas to take into consideration as we discuss a reopening strategy” that will be shared with the governor’s office. Call 914-941-1111 or email email@example.com.
Dutchess County posts updates at dutchessny.gov/coronavirus and has a hotline at 845-486-3555. Putnam County posts info at putnamcountyny.com/health. New York State has a hotline at 888-364-3065 and a webpage at ny.gov/coronavirus. The state also created an email list to provide updates. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posts updates at cdc.gov. To find a test site, visit coronavirus.health.ny.gov.
■ Cornell Cooperative Extension offices across the Hudson Valley are distributing free hand sanitizer and face coverings to local farms. Contact the Putnam or Dutchess extension offices. CCE Putnam will be distributing products from its Brewster office on May 13 and 14.
■ Two Dutchess County organizations on Wednesday (May 13) created programs to help small businesses. The Dutchess County Local Development Corp. established a program, in partnership with Community Capital New York, that will provide interest-free loans of up to $10,000 to independent businesses that have not been able to secure federal assistance. At the same time, the Dutchess County Industrial Development Agency created a sales-and-use tax relief program to help manufacturers expand capacity of personal protective equipment.
■ On May 1, Cuomo ordered schools to close for the rest of the academic year and their officials to submit plans for protecting students, faculty and staff when reopening in the fall. The New York State Public High School Athletic Association also canceled the spring sports season.
■ Larry Burke, the officer-in-charge of the Cold Spring Police Department, said the Village Board has decided to close the bandstand and dock area as well as Dockside Park on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. because of a lack of social distancing by weekend visitors. The 10 a.m. closure is to allow residents to walk their dogs at Dockside earlier in the morning, he said.
■ Five of the state’s 15 prison inmate deaths from COVID-19 have occurred at Fishkill Correctional Facility, which has the most cases and deaths of any prison as of May 6, according to the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. In all, 85 inmates at Fishkill have tested positive for the coronavirus, up from 61 cases and one death as of April 22. Sing Sing has had the next-highest total of cases with 51 and deaths with 4. The Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women in Westchester County has had 39 cases and one death. Advocates and relatives of inmates announced a two-day vigil at the prison cemetery for May 7 and 8 to demand that prisoners vulnerable to COVID-19 be released.
■ Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, in a town hall on Facebook on May 6, discussed a goal of opening summer camps by July 1, based on state guidance and approval. He said the county Department of Behavioral & Community Health is developing guidance to assist camps in developing health and safety plans, including the measures they will take to reduce the potential for the spread of COVID-19 and how they will respond to any confirmed cases. Camps will be required to submit these plans to the county with their permit applications, he said.
■ The state Department of Health this week began reporting “presumed” COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes, in addition to confirmed ones. Through May 3, Dutchess had 19 confirmed nursing home deaths and nine presumed ones. The state reported nine confirmed fatalities and one presumed death at Ferncliff Nursing Home in Rhinebeck and five confirmed fatalities at Wingate at Beacon. Eight presumed deaths were reported at Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing at Pawling. Data for Putnam County showed 13 confirmed deaths at the Putnam Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Holmes and three at Putnam Ridge in Brewster.
■ Rite Aid said it would offer free COVID-19 testing through its drive-thru windows for adults with or without symptoms beginning Monday (May 11), including its location at 709 Main St. in Poughkeepsie. An online appointment is required. Rite Aid said it has the capacity to conduct up to 10,000 tests daily across its New York locations. See riteaid.com.
■ Dutchess County said that, as of May 8, its dashboard at dutchessny.gov/coronavirus will include data obtained from the state health department, such as deaths. Hospitals and nursing homes are not required to report to local health departments, and state data also includes presumed positive cases in its fatality numbers. “There is an enormous volume of data being generated daily, much of which local health departments do not have direct access to,” explained Dr. Anil Vaidian, commissioner of the county Department of Behavioral & Community Health. “The state has been impressive, providing this aggregate data, by county, on a daily basis for the public, as this kind of data is generally only reported on an annual basis. However, it will take some time, likely several months, before all of the needed specific data is reported down to the local health departments.”
■ On April 26, Cuomo announced a plan to re-open the state, beginning with construction and manufacturing functions that are low risk. Phase 2, he said, would open businesses considered “more essential” with inherent low risks of infection in the workplace and to customers, followed by businesses considered “less essential” or those that present a higher risk of infection spread. “As the infection rate declines, the pace of reopening businesses will be increased,” he said. There will be two weeks in between each phase to monitor the effects.
■ On May 2, Cuomo announced that a study of 15,000 people at grocery stores and community centers around the state over the past two weeks found that about 12 percent had COVID-19 antibodies, indicating they had been infected at some point with COVID-19. About 14 percent of people tested in Westchester and Rockland counties had the antibodies and 3 percent in the remaining Hudson Valley counties, including Dutchess and Putnam. Twenty percent of those tested in New York City and about 11 percent on Long Island had antibodies.
■ Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said on April 29 that the health department would work with the 13 nursing homes in Dutchess to test each resident for COVID-19 and that he has asked the state for 2,000 tests. The county will begin the program at Wingate at Beacon. Molinaro said the county is concerned in part because 96 of 330 residents at two nursing homes in Ulster County tested positive, with many of them having no symptoms.
■ On April 29, Cuomo said elective outpatient treatments could resume in counties “without significant risk of COVID-19 surge in the near term,” including Putnam, Dutchess and Ulster but not Orange, Rockland or Westchester. He said a county must have hospital capacity of more than 25 percent and fewer than 10 new hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients over the past 10 days to qualify.
■ Cuomo ordered that all school board elections and budget votes, including for Beacon, Haldane and Garrison, be delayed until to June 9, and that voting take place by mail. He also ordered village elections, including in Nelsonville, be delayed until Sept. 15.
■ Although closed to the public, the Boscobel historic site in Garrison is offering health care workers limited access to its grounds and gardens, if scheduled in advance for one household at a time. If you are a health care worker who would like to soak in the view, hike the Woodland Trail and see the gardens’ blooms, email Ed Glisson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
■ About 90 Democratic members of the New York State Assembly, including Sandy Galef, whose district includes Philipstown, and Jonathan Jacobson, whose district includes Beacon, signed an open letter to members of the state’s congressional delegation requesting federal aid for local governments and for the state to offset budget cuts. It noted that Cuomo recently announced a revised budget plan with cuts to Medicaid, education and property-tax relief programs. “I am calling on our federal representatives to stand up for our first responders, medical staff and schools as we get through the worst of this public health crisis,” Galef said in a statement.
■ The Cooperative Extension of Putnam County canceled its 4-H fair scheduled for July 24 to 26. The event had been held annually for 48 years. The Dutchess County Fair is scheduled for Aug. 25 to 30.
■ The Philipstown Food Pantry, where organizers say they have seen a 140 percent increase in clients since social distancing began, is in need of donations. Food can be dropped off between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Friday mornings, or Saturdays between 8:30 and 10:00 a.m. Do not bring homemade food, food in bulk packaging, or expired foods. See presbychurchcoldspring.org/food-pantry.html. Soho Salon in Cold Spring also collects goods for the pantry each Monday.
■ A group of Putnam County residents are making cloth masks for first responders, healthcare professionals and essential workers. To volunteer as a mask sewer, fabric cutter or transporter of materials see pcmaskguild.org.
■ The 2020 Memorial Day parade in Cold Spring has been canceled.
■ Cuomo said the state is directing insurers to waive cost sharing, co-pays and deductibles for mental-health services for front-line workers. The state also partnered with the Kate Spade New York Foundation and Crisis Text Line to provide 24/7 emotional support for front line health care workers. Text NYFRONTLINE to 741-741.
■ The Community Resilience Coalition hosted a webinar on April 28 entitled “Children of Putnam and COVID-19” with panelists who addressed talking to children about COVID-19; addressing child care, school, and summer camp concerns; meeting the need for social services and handling domestic violence. It was moderated by Jonathan Sury, project director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Earth Institute and included speakers from the Community Resilience Coalition, Putnam/Northern Westchester Women’s Resource Center, the county departments of social services and health, Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES, and Camp Herrlich. It can be viewed at bit.ly/rcrc-c19webinars.
■ The Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley announced the second round of emergency grants from its Putnam COVID-19 Response Fund. The $17,400 in grants benefited CAREERS Support Solutions, the Ecological Citizen’s Project, the Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming, the Philipstown Behavioral Health Hub, Putnam Community Action Partnership and Second Chance Foods. Donate or request funds at putnamcovidresponse.org.
■ With assistance from Scenic Hudson, FeedHV is purchasing milk from Hudson Valley Fresh and milk, yogurt and butter from Ronnybrook Farm Dairy to donate to three food programs for children: The Kingston YMCA Farm Project, Dutchess Outreach in Poughkeesie and the Friends of Hudson Youth in Hudson. FeedHV, which is a program of the Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corp., links donors of prepared but unserved food and fresh produce with nonprofits and food assistance programs. The donation will include more than 12,000 gallon and 1,800 half-gallon containers of milk, 1,250 containers of yogurt and 210 pounds of butter in eight-ounce packages. Both dairies are selling their products at cost.
■ Jonathan Jacobson, whose state Assembly district includes Beacon and Newburgh, said his staff can assist residents by phone or email who are experiencing delays when applying for state unemployment benefits. Call 845-562-0888 or 845-763-7011 or email email@example.com.
■ State Sen. Sue Serino, whose district includes the Highlands, and who is a member of the Senate’s Aging Committee, on April 23 wrote Cuomo and Health Commissioner Howard Zucker to call for an alternative to the March 25 guidance that, to open hospital beds elsewhere, nursing homes must accept patients with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19. She recommended instead that the state create a series of regional long-term care centers for COVID-19 patients at nursing homes.
■ On April 27, Cuomo announced New York would provide $25 million for food banks and providers from a public health emergency fund, including $4.4 million to the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern NY, which serves Dutchess and Putnam counties. Philanthropies that would like to help can email Fran Barrett, the state director of nonprofits, at COVIDPhilanthropies@exec.ny.gov.
■ Dutchess County announced it has implemented a mobile app, NYDocSubmit, developed by the state to allow recipients of public benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), Temporary Assistance (TA) and Medicaid to scan and upload required documents. The app is available for free download via the Apple App Store and Google Play. See bit.ly/NYDocSubmit.
■ Reusable cloth face coverings are being made available to essential businesses and nonprofit organizations in Dutchess County. The coverings are provided by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, in partnership with the state, Dutchess County, Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce, Dutchess Tourism Inc. and Hudson Cadillac-Buick-GMC. To register for pickup, see dcrcoc.org/form/view/19770.
■ A survey of 215 nonprofits in the Hudson Valley conducted by the Center for Effective Philanthropy found that more than half “described their financial circumstances as so difficult they may have to make significant changes — from laying off staff to ceasing operations — within four months or less. This, they say, is coming against a backdrop of increased demand among some nonprofits for their services due to heightened need brought on by the pandemic.” At the same time, 60 percent of respondents said they had added services in response to COVID-19.
■ On April 21, Molinaro wrote Cuomo asking for his assistance in providing local health departments with access to the state’s Health Emergency Response Data System, where hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities regulated by the Department of Health report data such as fatalities, bed counts and the number of COVID-19 positive patients. Currently, local health departments must contact hospitals and nursing homes directly to find out what they are reporting to the state system. He said access might help better align the data reported by the state and counties through COVID-19 dashboards.
■ The state launched a texting program and confidential service to assist victims of domestic violence. Text 844-997-2121 or visit opdv.ny.gov to chat confidentially with a professional at any time of the day or night.
■ A federal program will cover $30 million in child care costs for essential workers, including health care providers, pharmaceutical staff, law enforcement officers, firefighters, food delivery workers and grocery store employees. To qualify, a worker must have an income less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level, or $78,600 for a family of four. Essential workers can use the funding to pay for their existing care arrangement. An essential worker who needs child care can contact the local child care resource and referral agency to find openings. See bit.ly/child-care-help.
■ Beacon on April 24 released an FAQ about the crisis and the city’s response. “In the past week, the number of Beacon cases has been in the 90s and 100s — so pretty close to flat,” wrote Mayor Lee Kyriacou. “That’s a positive sign that we’ve been doing the right things. But it doesn’t change what we must be doing right now. As COVID cases peak and our health workers — thank you — can handle the load and rest a little, we are starting to look to the next stage.” Kyriacou said that the city reaches most residents with landline phones through its SWIFT-911 service. Those with mobile phones can sign up at cityofbeacon.org. He also noted that city parks remain open but all playgrounds and sports courts are closed, as well as the skate park. Applications for permits or licenses can be downloaded at cityofbeacon.org and mailed, emailed or placed in the City Hall drop box.
■ The hours of the Beacon recycling facility at the end of Dennings Avenue have been adjusted to Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
■ On April 15, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered that all people in New York wear a mask or a face covering when out in public and in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained, such as on public transportation. Cuomo also ordered essential business to provide masks to employees who come into contact with customers. The Dutchess County government released a flier on how to create a cloth mask if you cannot purchase one. The CDC also offers guidance. Cuomo also announced that the state was increasing the maximum fine for violations of its social distancing protocol from $500 to $1,000 to help address the lack of adherence. Local officials have the authority to enforce the protocols, he said.
■ On April 25, Cuomo said all registered voters in the state will be sent absentee ballot applications for the June 23 primary elections with postage-paid reply envelopes.
■ Cornell Cooperative Extension compiled a list of Dutchess farm stores that offer curbside pickup and/or delivery, including Fishkill Farms in Hopewell Junction and Meadowbrook in Wappingers Falls.
■ Cuomo said on April 25 he will issue an order allowing pharmacists to conduct diagnostic testing for COVID-19.
■ The Tompkins Hose Co. in Beacon and other firehouses in Dutchess County sounded their rooftop sirens through two cycles on April 23 to thank those working in emergency services, health care and local government, plus all the supporting agencies. On April 16, many drivers sounded their horns for two, 1-second blasts at the same time to honor transportation workers as part of a #SoundtheHorn campaign. The drivers of MTA and Dutchess and Putnam trains and buses also participated.
■ New Yorkers no longer need to have their application for state unemployment benefits rejected before they can apply for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which covers many self-employed people, independent contractors, gig workers, farmers and others not eligible for state unemployment. See labor.ny.gov. In addition, state applications can now be filed daily between 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
■ The Dutchess Responds Fund on April 21 announced it had awarded $32,400 in grants to nonprofit organizations on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, including the Animal Farm Foundation, Ascienzo Family Foundation/Red Hook Responds, Community Voices Heard, Dutchess Outreach, Meals on Wheels of Greater Poughkeepsie, Pawling Resource Center, RDC Loaves and Fishes, Red Hook UMC Food Pantry, Willow Roots and Worker Justice Center of New York.
■ The state on April 20 changed its guidance on golf courses, allowing them to open with precautions in place. The Putnam County Golf Course, which closed April 11 to comply with an executive order that determined courses to be non-essential businesses, reopened. No golf carts will be allowed. The food vendors, driving range and pro shop are closed to the public. Golfers are required to prepay for reservations online; no walk-ons are permitted. Items that golfers would touch – rakes, flags, benches, etc. – have been removed from the course. Social distancing rules will be strictly enforced. The Garrison also announced it was open for players.
■ The IRS has released a tracking tool for the $1,200 Economic Impact Payments.
■ New York State opened its health insurance marketplace to allow individuals to enroll through June 15. See nystateofhealth.ny.gov.
■ The Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce has created a list of suppliers of personal protective equipment in the Hudson Valley personal protective equipment such as face masks, surgical masks, face shields, gloves and hand sanitizer.
■ The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation a created a Save Small Business Fund for businesses that employ between 3 and 20 people, are located in an economically vulnerable community and have been harmed financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. Get information here. Notably, businesses in Beacon (12508) and Garrison (10524) can apply but not those in Cold Spring (10516).
■ In response to an urgent need for blood and platelet donations, the Food and Drug Administration related its restrictions on who can donate. It changed the deferral period to 3 months from 12 months for men who have had sex with other men; women who have had sex with men who had sex with other men; people who have recently gotten tattoos or piercings; and people who have traveled to malaria-endemic areas (and are residents of malaria non-endemic countries). In addition, people who had been deferred indefinitely because they spent time in certain European countries or on military bases in Europe and were possibly exposed to Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (“mad-cow disease”) can now donate. The nearest blood donor center is in Hopewell Junction (2070 Route 52, Building 200). See nybc.org to make an appointment. The center notes that “there is no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmitted by blood transfusion. In fact, there have been no reported cases of transfusion-transmission for any respiratory virus, including this coronavirus.” Call 800-688-0900 with questions.
■ The Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley announced the first round of nearly $20,000 in grants to be deployed from its Putnam COVID-19 Response Fund. The recipients were the Brewster Community Food Pantry, Community Cares, CoveCare Center, Food Bank of the Hudson Valley, Gilead Food Pantry, Philipstown Food Pantry and Putnam Community Action Partnership. Organizations can apply for funding at communityfoundationshv.org.
■ In an update released April 9, Philipstown Supervisor Richard Shea said the town had cut staffing levels by over 50 percent to avoid close contact; purchased food gift cards from local businesses to distribute to front-line workers while supporting local business and encouraging residents to the same; met with the state parks Commissioner Eric Kulleseid to address parking issues on Route 9D — “You will see signage as a result of this meeting; ticketing is taking place and law enforcement has the option to order towing,” he said; sent a mailer to every household in town to offer assistance with food and medicine for those in need; offered assistance to residents in Beacon and Newburgh with food assistance; set up a COVID-19 section on the town website with updates.
He noted that the closest test site for Philipstown residents is at Dutchess Stadium. “You can arrive with your prescription in hand or better yet, have your doctor fax it over in advance to 845-320-7754,” he said. “I have spoken with Sandra Iberger, the head of ambulatory services at Nuvance Health, and she is heading up the testing programs in our area. She gave me a lot of useful information and directed me to the Nuvance Health website Covid 19 section, which gives all the information that people need for testing.”
Shea added: “We are all tired of this crisis, I know I am. We want our lives to go back to normal. The best way to make this happen is to keep up the fight and stay at home. It is so much harder than taking action, but this is the only effective action we can take at this time. Please stay safe and take care of yourselves. Get out for a walk, eat well, get your rest and wash those hands. This will end and I believe we will come out the other side with a deeper understanding of what it means to be not only a member of the Philipstown community but a member of the world community.”
■ Cold Spring Mayor Dave Merandy on April 11 sent out a reminder to residents: (1) “While you enjoy the outdoors – walking, jogging, bike riding – be sure to follow the rules. Unless you are family members or roommates sharing the same home, stay at least 6 feet apart; (2) Help our local businesses as much as you can. While you can’t enter most shops, many are doing curb-side pickup, delivery, shipping. Check their websites or social media pages for more information. (3) If you need to enter a grocery store wear a mask and gloves. When you are finished with gloves, please remember the gloves should be disposed of in appropriate garbage containers, not in the street, on sidewalks, lawns, or in the Foodtown parking lot.”
■ The state added to its list of “essential” businesses livestock medical services; emergency chiropractic services; physical or occupational therapy prescribed by a doctor; automobile manufacturing; manufacture of “any parts or components necessary for essential products”; telecommunications service for existing customers; delivery for orders placed via phone or online at non-essential establishments as long as only one employee is present at the business for fulfillment; marine vessel repair; landscaping for maintenance or pest control; design, print, publishing and signage companies in support of essential businesses or services; and remote instruction or streaming of classes from public and private schools and health and fitness centers.
■ Cuomo ordered flags on all state buildings flown at half-staff to honor the dead. The county executives in Putnam and Dutchess also ordered flags on county property be flown at half-staff.
■ On April 8, the governor ordered the state Department of Labor to make $600 in additional weekly unemployment benefits available and extended the period covered by unemployment by 13 weeks, to 39 weeks.
■ The New York State Board of Regents also announced that the Regents Exams scheduled for June have been canceled.
■ The Town of Philipstown announced that, due to a private donation, it is providing assistance to residents in need, including Foodtown and Drug World gift cards. Call 845-265-5200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Para información en español, llame al (845) 276-4601. It also is organizing volunteer drivers to deliver essentials. See philipstown.com to sign up.
■ The state announced the creation of a First Responders Fund to assist COVID-19 health care workers and first responders with expenses and costs, including child care. Blackstone is making an anchor $10 million contribution. Donations can be made at healthresearch.org (specify the donation is for “COVID-19 NYS Emergency Response.”
■ The Putnam County health commissioner issued an order directing anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 to go into isolation or face a fine of up to $2,000 per violation per day. Parents and guardians are responsible for ensuring their children comply with the order or face the same fines, he said.
■ Many distilleries are making hand sanitizer from their supplies of whiskey and gin, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says should be at least 60 percent alcohol (120 proof). Karl Johnson, the co-owner of Dennings Point Distillery in Beacon, made 30 gallons and offered free fills at the door. He also donated a gallon to the Beacon Police Department. Johnson felt compelled to remind most people who stopped to fill up: “Don’t drink it.”
■ Because of social distancing restrictions, funeral homes across the state have restricted the number of mourners at services. In obituaries, many families are noting that a memorial will be held at an unspecified later date. At Libby Funeral Home in Beacon, only spouses and children of the deceased are allowed to attend, with others watching through a live video feed. “Trying to serve families virtually is not what we set out to accomplish,” said Matthew Fiorillo, who owns Libby and said he has handled arrangements for several COVID-19 victims. In Cold Spring, at the Clinton Funeral Home, families are opting for “simple services — no viewing,” said Anthony Calabrese, its manager and funeral director. “Everybody understands what’s going on.” Cemeteries also are limiting graveside services to 10 people and requiring that mourners stand at least 6 feet apart, and the Archdiocese of New York on March 24 banned funeral Masses.
■ Tracy Prout Bunye a, psychologist with a practice in Garrison, is the principal investigator at Yeshiva University in New York City in a study of the psychological impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The researchers are looking for volunteers to complete an anonymous online survey that takes 20 to 30 minutes. Given the likelihood of future pandemics, Prout said the study “will help us identify those who are at greater risk, inform public health policy and design interventions that are cost-effective and provide relief.” The Yeshiva researchers are collaborating with a psychologist at the University of Pisa, where the project began during the first week of the Italian government’s lockdown. See bit.ly/covid-study.
■ On April 2, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who district includes the Highlands, announced that Dutchess County will receive $856,000 in emergency funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. In addition, Newburgh will receive $514,000.
■ Philipstown Supervisor Richard Shea said on April 2 that the state parks department has opposed two executive orders he sent to the state Department of Health for approval to restrict parking near state-owned trailheads. He said the health department is required to respond to him within 24 hours and, when he had not received an answer to his March 27 request, “we made inquiries. That is when we were told that NYS Parks had written to them advising them that they were not in favor of the actions that the Town of Philipstown was trying to take to limit parking,” Shea wrote in an email. “We are not saying to close the parks. We are asking to temporarily limit parking. I’m not holding out a lot of hope at this point.”
■ Shea and other five town supervisors in Putnam wrote to state and federal officials on April 2 to complain that the county health department “is not being given the same considerations” as larger health departments in the area, noting that, per capita, Putnam has more positive tests than all but three other counties in the state. The supervisors reported that after exhausting its specimen collection tubes and swabs at a drive-thru testing event on March 21, the county health department has not been able to secure more supplies and suspended testing.
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 bitly.com/covidvirus-faq. 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.
■ The Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley on March 31 announced a new charitable fund, Putnam Covid Response, to raise money to provide “immediate critical resources to nonprofit agencies meeting the basic needs of residents.” Last week, the group created a similar fund, Dutchess Responds, as well as one for Ulster County. On April 3, the Foundations announced that St. Andrew’s/St. Luke’s Food Pantry in Beacon was among the first Dutchess recipients of a total of $50,000 in grants, along with the Center of Compassion Food Pantry, Changepoint Church, Dutchess Community Action Partnership, Dutchess Outreach, Food Bank of the Hudson Valley, North East Community Center, Pawling Resource Center, Pleasant Valley Ecumenical Food Pantry and Zion Episcopal Church Food Pantry.
■ The federal government on March 30 announced that automatic distribution of economic-impact payments will begin in the next three weeks to everyone who filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019. Filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment of $1,200 per adult. For filers with higher incomes, the amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the threshold. Single filers with income of more than $99,000 and joint filers who earned more than $198,000 and have no children will not receive payments. Parents will also receive $500 for each dependent child. See irs.gov/coronavirus.
■ MidHudson Regional Hospital in Poughkeepsie has established a Meal Train to coordinate donations to its staff. Meal donations in increments of 10 are preferred. Each meal has 10 slots for lunch and 10 slots for dinner.
■ Putnam County installed its Row of Honor, a row of flags that is put up on Memorial Day and Veterans Day along the shore of Lake Gleneida in Carmel, along with a “God Bless America” banner, to recognize and give thanks to health care workers and first responders who are putting themselves at risk to help fight the COVID-19 outbreak. The flags will fly through Memorial Day, when two additional rows will be added to recognize veterans.
■ The governor on March 27 ordered all “non-essential” construction to shut down. Essential projects include roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing and homeless shelters.
■ The deadline to upgrade driver’s licenses to Real ID, which will be required as identification to board domestic flights, has been extended from Oct. 1, 2020, to Oct. 1, 2021.
■ Effective March 30, the Dutchess County Clerk’s Office will be closed to the public. The office will continue to receive allowable court filings through the NYSCEF filing system, as well as through the mail. Land records can also be accepted through the mail or via the clerk’s electronic portal. The Record Room, located on the second floor of the County Office Building, 22 Market Street, will be open weekdays from 1 – 4 p.m. for title searching. For questions or an emergency, call 845-486-2131.