Of the 23 known individuals infected with the COVID-19 virus in Ulster County as of Saturday, March 21 at least two have Saugerties mailing addresses — however, according to Assistant Deputy County Executive Dan Torres, both Saugertiesians tested positive and are being quarantined together in New York City. The other cases, he said, originated within the county.
“That individual is a legal resident of Saugerties,” said Torres. “They have two homes, they were tested and they are currently quarantined in the city. Those were not people that were physically in Saugerties.”
Torres said that a mobile testing unit would be deployed by Monday, March 23, and that more information would be available next week.
“Because we have this mobile clinic does not mean that everyone will be tested due to the lack of tests available,” Torres said.
“There is a criteria that we set up. We have a database of certain individuals with certain preexisting conditions… There is a lot that determines whether someone gets a kit … If you worked in a senior living facility, we would want to know if you were potentially infected.” These criteria will be detailed in a county press release in coming days.
The latest Saugerties-connected individual that tested positive, he said, was housed in New York City with the individual from Saugerties who tested positive on March 17. He could not confirm the nature of the relationship. The first individual, according to Town Supervisor Fred Costello Jr., was male. He said that, during a conference call with the county executive and other town supervisors today, their questions on how to interpret orders handed down from his and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office were answered.
“The transfer stations are viewed to be essential — we don’t want an accumulation of solid waste,” he said of one of his questions that were answered. “In neighborhoods and at people’s homes.”
According to Councilman John Schoonmaker, the town’s Climate Action Committee met “virtually” this week; currently, most town committees and meetings deemed non-essential have been postponed.
“We tried our best to keep things functioning,” said Schoonmaker. “I think it helps people with what’s going on if there’s some routine — you feel like something is getting done in these times.”
At Wednesday, March 18’s town board meeting, he said, the council members distanced themselves with chair-lengths at the conference table at the front of the room. State laws covering municipal meetings have been altered, said Costello, to allow for members to vote on measures “by proxy,” virtually, and future town board meetings may be conducted with a video-chatting service like Zoom.
Updated information on event cancellations and the local government’s response to this crisis will be made available at www.townofsaugerties.digitaltowpath.com. Free lunches and food are available for those in need at the Atonement Lutheran Church on Market Street on Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon — thanks to a donation from Tom Struzzieri of HITS and the Diamond Mills Hotel and Tavern, free meals will also be handed out at the Boys and Girls Club in the village on Friday, Tuesday and Friday of next week from 4-6 p.m. Costello said that he and town board members would be available to answer any questions from residents, and that information regarding COVID-19 can be accessed on the town website. Currently, the town is amassing a volunteer list for services that may become necessary in the future, like food delivery.
“Please don’t make decisions based on what you see on social media,” he said, citing an individual who incorrectly stated on Facebook that 14 cases of COVID-19 had been diagnosed within the town. “Confirm any information — the town website has a COVID-19 link to the county website. That information has been vetted and is reliable … people should not be making decisions on their health of their family’s health based on social media. Take the time to confirm it. Any member of the board will be happy to get answers to your questions.”