As delta-variant driven COVID-19 cases continue to climb across the area, Ulster County will open a new vaccination site at Kingston Plaza Friday, August 20, SUNY New Paltz announced vaccines will be mandatory for students this fall and Nuvance Health will now require full vaccination for all staff by the start of October.
Ulster County reported 404 active cases Monday, up from 274 a week ago and the first time cases have topped 400 since May. 1. While active case counts are continuing to climb, they remain far lower than the peak of 2,622 active cases at the end of January 2021. The daily positivity rate stood at 3.2 percent Monday.
The Town of Saugerties had the most active cases in the county with 53, followed by the City of Kingston with 42 and the Town of New Paltz with 41. The Town of Lloyd had 29, the Town of Ulster had 25, Gardiner had eleven, Olive had, six, Woodstock and the Town of Kingston each had five and Rosendale had four. Shandaken tallied no active cases.
Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan urged county residents to get vaccinated as the county continues to see a rise in positive cases driven by the delta variant.
On Tuesday, Ryan announced a new vaccination site at Kingston Plaza that will open Friday. Located between Savona’s Plaza Pizza and Scanlon’s Cleaners, the site will be open from 2 to 7 p.m. Friday and then will be open Fridays after that.
“With the national rise in cases due to the Delta variant, Ulster County is redoubling our efforts to make vaccines accessible,” County Executive Pat Ryan said in a press release. “As the summer comes to a close, it is essential that everyone gets vaccinated. Vaccines are safe, effective and provide our best ability as a community to stay healthy and bring back a sense of normalcy.”
Appointments can be made at VaccinateUlster.com and walk-ins will be accepted.
Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will be available on-site for first and second doses. The Pfizer vaccine is approved for people ages 12+.
A parent or legal guardian must accompany and give consent for vaccination for anyone under 18. Documentation is not required. Any necessary forms will be available at the site in English and in Spanish, and a Spanish interpreter will also be on site. For more information about COVID-19 vaccinations, visit vaccinateulster.com.
Move-in day at SUNY New Paltz
When SUNY New Paltz welcomes back students including more than 1,000 first-year students and 700 transfer students for in-person instruction starting Thursday, it will require all students planning to attend in-person to show proof of vaccination. It is part of a SUNY and CUNY directive that applies to all public colleges and universities across the state. State officials encouraged all private universities to follow suit while stopping short of making it a requirement.
When the new students return, they’ll join 6,000 current students for what will be the first fully in-person semester at SUNY New Paltz since the pandemic began in 2020.
Masks will be required in indoor spaces for all students, faculty, staff and guests regardless of vaccination status for the start of the fall 2021 semester in response to new recommendations on masking from the Federal Centers for Disease Control and the rise of the Delta variant.
“Our new students have overcome profound hardship during the pandemic, demonstrating incredible perseverance and commitment to service while maintaining focus on their academics,” said Jeff Gant, vice president for enrollment management in a prepared statement. “This incoming class is full of students who have been highly involved in their communities as volunteers, artists, actors, entrepreneurs, athletes and activists. They are excited to be on campus and eager to safely engage with their peers and professors.”
Ryan announced last week that K-12 schools across Ulster County will return in-person five days a week this fall with mask requirements for all faculty, staff, students and contractors regardless of vaccination status.
Nuvance Health, which locally operates Northern Dutchess Hospital in Rhinebeck, Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie, along with an urgent care center in the Hudson Valley Mall and a number of primary care practices across Ulster County, announced that all members of its workforce will be required to receive COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment or provision of services at its facilities.
The mandate will apply to employees, medical staff, volunteers, students and contractors.
Nuvance said current workforce members must provide documentation of full vaccination by October 1, 2021. And effective August 23, all new hires must provide documentation of COVID-19 vaccination prior to their first day of work.
The health system said members of the workforce who are not fully vaccinated by the deadline and do not have an approved accommodation request such as for medical or religious reasons, will no longer be able to continue employment or provide services at Nuvance Health.
Nuvance says the mandate is necessary as more contagious variants present a higher risk of spread and it seeks to create the “safest environment possible for employees, patients and visitors.
“We are convinced that having a fully vaccinated workforce is critically important to ensuring the health and well-being of our employees, patients and community members,” said Dr. John M. Murphy, president and CEO of Nuvance. “We have proven throughout the pandemic that we can conquer even the toughest challenges when we work together. We need to continue working together by getting immunized against COVID-19 so we can have a safe environment for our patients and each other.”
Nuvance said it is providing ongoing communications and support for employees to address the reasoning, process and expectations in preparation for full vaccination. The health system said it encourages any employees with concerns or questions about COVID-19 vaccines to seek guidance from their primary care provider.
As for COVID-19 testing, Ulster County no longer operates testing sites according to Assistant Deputy County Executive Dan Torres.
Torres said a full list of local testing locations can be found at https://covid19.ulstercountyny.gov/get-tested/. Those without internet access can reach out to their primary care physician or call the recovery hotline at (845) 443-8888
The county’s website features a full list of local testing locations with contact information, if they offer diagnostic, molecular and or rapid tests, if appointments are required and which locations offer free testing for the uninsured.
The New York State Department of Health COVID-19 testing protocols are as follow:
- Privately-run test providers and labs may establish specific criteria which allow them to better meet patient needs.
- Those who wish to be tested, even if they have previously been unable to receive a test, should reach out to their medical provider or call the Recovery Service Center at (845) 443-8888.
- Those who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, such as dry cough, fever, shortness of breath or loss of taste/smell, please call the testing site in advance to arrange for safe access to the site.
- COVID-19 diagnostic testing is covered by most health insurance at either zero patient cost or with a standard co-pay. Those seeking a test should check with your insurance provider before being tested to understand what cost, if any, they may be required to cover. Several testing sites offer no-cost testing for people without insurance.
- Additional information about NYS Testing Locations in the Mid-Hudson Region is available at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/find-test-site-near-you.