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Remembering the Lessons of the Past: Covid-19 Four Years Later

This week marks four years since the Covid-19 pandemic exploded across America and forever altered our lives. While Covid remains an enduring concern for many individuals – those with compromised immune systems or suffering from Long-Covid – for many, the pandemic has faded from our daily consciousness as public health agencies relaxed restrictions and mass vaccination allowed life to return to a new normal.


But however much we may wish not to revisit those harrowing years, the lessons learned during that traumatic experience are worth paying some attention to so that when confronted with the next public health crisis, public officials may leverage the knowledge and experience that was so hard-earned.


For New York’s county leaders, the Covid-19 pandemic was both our darkest and finest hour as they swiftly mobilized to implement comprehensive strategies aimed at safeguarding public health and mitigating the spread of the virus within their communities.


Faced with the urgent need to protect residents while navigating evolving scientific understanding and shifting governmental directives, these leaders exhibited resilience, adaptability, and a commitment to prioritizing the well-being of their constituents. From coordinating testing, tracing and vaccination efforts to deploying resources for vulnerable populations, New York’s county leaders led the fight against Covid from the front lines.


In 2021, as the first wave of the pandemic was showing signs of receding, the New York State County Executives' Association, in collaboration with NYSAC, began the process of collecting stories of county leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, told by the County Executives who were on the ground leading the local response. 

Our Darkest Hours: New York County Leadership & the COVID Pandemic, uses these first-person accounts to provide a glimpse into the fear, struggle, triumph, and pain that local leaders faced as they worked to protect their residents from an invisible and insidious enemy. 

The book also provides a public policy account of the fractured federal and state response to COVID-19 and explores the economic impact of New York on Pause, the unprecedented expansion of state executive powers, and the diminution of local home rule. The Appendices include material relating to congressional actions, the state’s executive orders, and COVID cases/deaths by county from March 15, 2020 to March 15, 2021.


NYSAC President Daniel McCoy, who served as President of the County Executives’ Association during the pandemic said, “We felt very strongly that the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic needed to be shared so that the next generation of local leaders is better prepared when disaster strikes. Too many lives were lost and too many livelihoods disrupted to let the experience gained during this crisis be lost to history.”


Our Darkest Hours: New York County Leadership and the COVID Pandemic is available for purchase from Archway Publishing and Amazon for $19.99 (softcover) and $37.95 (hardcover) and $4.99 (Kindle).

Get your copy of 'Our Darkest Hours'

All proceeds will be donated to Feeding New York State, which supports the ten regional food banks.

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