COVID-19 Blog: Counties Innovating in Response to COVID 19 Vol. 3
NEW YORK CITY
On Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed concern about New Yorkers running out of the money they use to buy food. He announced that the City is building a citywide network to make sure food is available for those who cannot afford it. According to the Mayor, it will take a mobilization never seen before in New York City.
Seeking to stem the spread of coronavirus in city jails, officials will release additional inmates from Rikers Island and other New York City facilities. Two hundred more people who are vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic will have their case file reviewed to see if they are eligible for release. The City is focused on doing this safely and with the right supervision after release.
NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced that Enrichment Centers open today for children of first responders, health care providers, transit workers, and other key personnel. The centers are designed to be place where the children of these front-line workers can be safely cared for while their parents continue to serve the city in this time of need. Staffed by DOE employees and community-based organization partners, the centers will provide children with three daily hot meals, remote learning time with their teachers, activities like art, music, and physical education, and social and emotional support.
County Executive Steve Bellone said the county's response has shifted toward a mitigation strategy as the virus has now been spread throughout the county. This strategy includes a new policy to begin rear boarding for Suffolk County transit to help protect drivers. The first few rows of the bus will also be sectioned off to create a larger buffer between the public and the drivers. The County is also encouraging everyone to avoid using cash on Suffolk buses and instead to download the mobile app, Suffolk FastFare.
Nassau County has a zero-tolerance policy for price gouging necessary products during a pandemic – and they're enforcing it. Residents can report complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's all hands on deck at Suffolk County's 311 call center. Suffolk County Legislator Tom Donnelly pitched in this weekend to answer calls from residents.
County Executive Steve Bellone announced a Suffolk County Supply Drive for personal protective equipment to protect medical professionals and first responders. Starting Monday, between 10am-2pm, people can drop off supplies at the Suffolk Fire Academy. The donations the County is seeking include N95 masks, ear loop face masks, gowns, and gloves. For a large donation of supplies or a potential vendor of opportunity, people are encouraged to contact FRESfinance@suffolkcountyny.gov.
The Westchester County Department of Social Services (DSS) is developing and implementing safety measures and changing the way the Department provides services to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Westchester. As a precaution, in-person contact has been eliminated whenever possible, with DSS transitioning to offer assistance by way of telework options and phone to reduce the potential exposure of Westchester County's residents. Those in need of benefits can apply online through www.MyBenefits.com. Applications can be either mailed or faxed to DSS.
Westchester County Center to Become Temporary Hospital
With the amount of hospital space quickly running amid the COVID-19 crisis, construction will begin to convert the Westchester County Center into a temporary hospital. Westchester County Executive George Latimer said, “We always figured the County Center would be an ideal place for this."
With hospitals nationwide, including in Rockland, in desperate need of more protective gear as coronavirus sweeps through, a group of Rocklanders are tapping their sewing and organizational skills to help. The group has been in touch with Rockland County Executive Ed Day and is working with the hospitals to figure out a safe and effective distribution network.
On Monday, County Executive Dan McCoy shared examples of the electronic cards (e-cards) children are sending to Shaker Place Rehabilitation & Nursing Center to put smiles on the faces of older residents there. Kids are encouraged to send their own e-cards, well wishes, and drawings to AlbanyCountyKidsCare@albanycountyny.gov.
Schenectady County and The Schenectady Foundation are partnering with many other community partners to support area families. Currently, they are focused on feeding and supplying families affected by COVID-19 by delivering food and supplies to quarantined families and those in most need and providing support and guidance so families know where they can get help.
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, at the conclusion of his daily health briefing on Sunday, made a special request of the community to light a light on porches across the county. He asked the gesture be made as a tribute to healthcare workers who are giving their all at this time of crisis.
Many of Delaware County's businesses have been deeply affected by the sweeping closures and staffing reductions. In keeping with the same spirit of this executive order, the Delaware County Board of Supervisors along with the Delaware County Treasurer, announced there will be leniency for those that cannot pay this tax at this time due to the COVID-19 crisis. Once the County can assess the duration of this situation and the impacts that it has had on businesses, it will set a due date.
This weekend, Broome County shared messages from some of the residents at Willow Point Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. They encourage residents to visit Willow Point's Facebook page for more photos of how they are doing. Visitation is restricted due to COVID-19, so many of them have not been able to see their family members, but Broome County wants to let them know they are doing well.
CENTRAL NEW YORK
In order to have adequate supplies for protecting citizens during the COVID-19 outbreak, Oswego County government is requesting local retailers, distributors and manufacturers to give the county right of first refusal for personal protective equipment and supplies. The County is the centralized distribution entity that provides personnel protective equipment to first responders and health care providers.
County Executive Bello: “While we're practicing social distancing to help #flattenthecurve, it's important to take care of our mental health too. Here are some resources that can help. We will get through this together.”
Ontario County is reminding businesses of the Department of Labor's Shared Work Program, which can provide an alternative to laying off employees during business downturns. Instead of cutting staff, businesses can reduce the number of hours of all employees or just a certain group with support from DOL.
WESTERN NEW YORK
Erie County's Department of Environment and Planning created a heat map to provide up-to-date information about the location of confirmed COVID-19 cases within the county. County Executive Mark Poloncarz cautioned that the virus is much more widespread than the number of confirmed cases suggest. The map can be found at erie.gov/covidmap.
Erie County shared a video in which Commissioner Marie Cannon announced changes regarding the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (#TANF) Program. The face-to-face interview requirement has been waived. Residents can call 858-8000 for an application.