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Thursday, June 4, 2020

Top Stories > Government

County coronavirus case count up to 106; one death

34 have recovered

Mar 30, 2020

By Isabel Braverman - staff writer

SULLIVAN COUNTY -- The county held a live question and answer session on Thursday with officials answering some of the community's biggest questions. Another live session was held yesterday, and we will have an update in Friday's paper.
As of yesterday, there are 106 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the county, and there has been one death. Public Health Director Nancy McGraw said 34 people have recovered and are out of quarantine.
“We have been very busy with our staff, as you can imagine, and with our healthcare providers in the community getting results of confirmed cases and quickly trying to isolate and quarantine individuals to limit further transmission in the community,” McGraw said.
As New York City has become the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, hospitals are preparing to have beds available to those infected.

Yesterday, the USNS Comfort, a 1,000-bed hospital ship, docked in New York City.
Sullivan County only has two Catskill Regional Medical Center hospital locations, in Callicoon and Harris. McGraw said they have a capacity of 168 beds.
“We are planning, and have been planning for quite some time, for options to increase capacity for beds should they become available,” McGraw said. “There's a number of conversations that are going on in terms of setting up additional facilities should that become necessary. That planning is already under way.”
With many New York City residents coming to their second homes in Sullivan County, local people wondered if there were any precautions being taken.
County Manager Josh Potosek said local government cannot close borders, it would have to be done by an executive order by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The governor has already put in place a ban on large gatherings, and urged New York City residents to self quarantine for 14 days after leaving the city.
Sullivan County Sheriff Mike Schiff said they do not have the authority to stop people from coming to their second homes. He said they pay taxes and it is their right.
While many worry about the influx overwhelming local systems, Schiff said so far they are not.
“Up until now we're seeing full cooperation, we're not seeing a problem. If someone out there in the public sees a camp opening up or larger gatherings of people call your local law enforcement, we will investigate it and we will handle it appropriately,” he said.
He said they have been in contact with many visitors and have talked about sending out written instructions and doing robo-calls to inform people about the self quarantine and other measures they should be taking.
While the pandemic is still in full swing, many do not know how or when it will end, and what the impacts will be. Some residents questioned how it will affect the local economy, and especially the tourism industry.
Potosek said they are working with their economic partners, such as the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce, Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association and Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development, to send out a questionnaire to local businesses to assess what their needs are.
“We're getting a lot of aid from federal and state government at some point, so what our role as a county government looks to be is to match all those funding sources with the needs of our businesses. Preventing illness and the health of our residents is our first priority, but this is a big second priority to make sure we have a vibrant economy going forward,” Potosek remarked.
The questionnaire was sent out yesterday, and Potosek said they are looking into repurposing their revolving loan funds and reaching out to the Industrial Development Agency to see if they have available funding for low-interest loans.

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