While there are currently no known cases of Coronavirus in Putnam County, area lawmakers say it is only a matter of time before Corona comes to town – and they are prepared to handle it when it does.
“Even though none of our residents have tested positive so far, with increased testing we expect we may have some cases,” said Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell on Sunday. “Residents should know that the Putnam County Health Department has been preparing diligently and will keep the public informed as things change.”
Putnam County Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Nesheiwat said the department has been working for weeks with emergency personnel, law enforcement, school district officials and other relevant agencies to prepare and keep them informed of the rapidly changing conditions.
“We are monitoring 19 Putnam residents who either returned from mainland China or came in contact with a person who tested positive for the virus,” he said. “As of Sunday, all of those we are monitoring were asymptomatic.”
After a sharp increase in cases statewide that led Gov. Andrew Cuomo to declare a State of Emergency, a containment area was set up in New Rochelle – in neighboring Westchester County, where it is believed the first case in the state was identified and where the largest number of cases has been reported.
New York currently has the most reported cases of Coronavirus in the nation, at nearly 200, according to a Wednesday report by the New York Times.
Area school districts are also prepared to jump into action should there be a local case of Coronavirus. Some have canceled sporting and other events that are normally held at large-crowd venues. All have stepped up their cleaning procedures.
Carmel Central Schools canceled a trip abroad for two dozen students who were supposed to visit Mantova, Italy, this semester.
At home, Superintendent Andy Irvin communicated in a letter to parents and the community March 9 that the district is following strict flu season cleaning protocols.
“We are performing deep cleaning and disinfecting more regularly than during a ‘normal’ flu season,” he wrote. “We continue to use only cleaning products approved for use in schools during the week. A more highly concentrated bleach cleaning solution is used on the weekends when we have the ability to allow the buildings to air out before students and staff return.”
At Putnam Valley schools, Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Lufts wrote in a March 10 letter to the community that the district will continue to “operate as normal” while maintaining daily communication with health department officials.
“If a recommendation is made to cancel certain types of events, the district is prepared to do so and, of course, we will notify you immediately,” he wrote. “The Putnam Valley School District has further increased and improved our cleaning and disinfection procedures and has called in additional staff to meet our needs. Our buses all received a deep clean and disinfection this past weekend and this process will continue, along with daily cleaning procedures, for the foreseeable future.”
The Mahopac Central School District has developed a preparedness and response plan in the event that normal operations are significantly impacted by COVID-19, according to a letter to the community from Superintendent Anthony DiCarlo, Assistant Superintendent Greg Stowell and Assistant Michael Tromblee.
“Due to our investment in instructional technology resources and infrastructure, we were able to deploy Chromebook devices to all students across all of our buildings today, in the event that there are any prolonged building closures,” they said. “Deployment of Chromebooks to all students in our buildings at this time will allow us to be flexible in our response moving forward.”
Nuvance Health, which includes Putnam Hospital Center in Carmel, is asking the public for its assistance in preventing the spread of illness.
“To continuously ensure a healthy and safe environment for patients, staff and visitors amid Coronavirus concerns, Nuvance Health has updated the visitation policies for all of our hospital locations,” the organization stated.
Visitors will be limited to no one younger than 15; one visitor per patient in the inpatient, outpatient and emergency departments; and two visitors per patient in the Family Birth Center, pediatric unit and NICU.
“This temporary policy change does not apply if extenuating circumstances exist, such as visiting patients who are receiving end-of-life care,” stated Nuvance.