BREWSTER, NY—A deliberate, phased-in approach to reopening began in other parts of the state. Now its Putnam and the Mid-Hudson region’s turn. Deaths from COVID-19 have continued to decline and contact tracer training is underway, so phase one has begun.
“We have been watching carefully around the State and we know what a safe re-opening looks like,” County Executive MaryEllen Odell said. “It is a delicate process. Getting the economy moving again is crucial, which is why Putnam County formed the ‘Reopen Putnam Safely Task Force.’ We must all do our part and not become complacent. Following the guidance will ensure the virus continues to decline. Large gatherings and crowds still need to be avoided, as we continue to practice social and physical distancing. The good news is that over the Memorial Day weekend, we saw residents at Putnam beaches showing restraint and being responsible. ”
The key is to remain diligent in practicing the tried-and-true public health practices of good hygiene, social distancing and now keeping gatherings to groups of less than ten people. By keeping groups small, contact tracing can be managed. According to the NYS reopening benchmarks, thirty contact tracers are needed per 100,000 residents. However, NYS reopening requirements for Putnam stipulated that the county identify 84 contact tracers in order to track and identify people who may become sick and advise them on how to avoid spreading the virus further.
Putnam County’s Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD, also emphasized the importance of continuing public health efforts, saying, “Everyone must remain strong and continue to practice social distancing, hand washing and wearing face coverings. With these practices we have flattened the curve. With these practices we can keep it flattened. Then we can continue to reopen and get everyone back to work. The key words are caution, patience and perseverance.”
In Putnam, as around the state, Phase One begins with the reopening of businesses where physical distancing can be most easily preserved. Construction, farms and landscaping businesses, manufacturing, and wholesale trade are some of the businesses that are getting the green light first. Retail establishments as well can open, limited to curbside or in-store pickup or drop off. If all proceeds with reason and restraint and hot spots are quickly identified through contact tracing and testing, progress will continue. If lapses occur, it will take some time for that to be reflected in the numbers of positive cases and hospitalizations.
Anonymous cellphone data shows that people across the country initially took very seriously the government’s advice to stay at home. Now with the warmer weather, the easing of restrictions in some areas, and nearly everyone tired of staying home, more people are venturing out more. This is all good for the economy. If public health practices can remain in place, then resurges can be contained, the economy will continue to revive itself. Putnam residents can continue to do their part, both for the health of the community and to support local businesses.
After a nine week pause, some businesses in the Mid-Hudson Region will reopen on Tuesday, including construction, manufacturing, retail (for curbside pickup only), wholesale trade and agriculture.
The seven-county region, which includes Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess, Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties, has shown a significant downward trend in the spread of coronavirus and met the seven metrics the state required to enter Phase 1 of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s four-phase reopening plan.
“The counties in this region have worked hard to get to this stage. We stayed home, stayed safe and flattened the curve, and now we are eager to get back to business,” Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell said. “The businesses that will reopen will make safety their first priority. We want people working, and we also want to keep our communities safe.”
Main Street businesses will need guidance during the reopening and county officials will be there for them, Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess County Executive, said.
“We were smart, we were vigilant, and, now, we begin a new chapter,” Molinaro said. “As we begin to reopen, we will keep supporting our businesses, families and farmers. As we keep making smart choices, we will protect lives while helping our community get back to life.”
All seven county executives who are part of the Mid-Hudson Regional Control Room that will monitor the metrics, welcomed the transition to Phase 1.
“While it is critical that we begin reopening the economy and getting people back to work, we will approach this first phase and each additional phase with ‘safety first, people always’ as our motto,” said Rockland County Executive Ed Day.
The lessons learned over the past few months will now be put to good use, Steve Neuhaus, the Orange County Executive, said
“Our region is anxious to get back to work and we look forward to helping businesses as they restart our local economy,” Neuhaus said. “Practical social distancing and wearing masks will help us open all phases as soon as possible.”
A major part of the Phase 1 plan includes having contact tracers notify those who have been exposed to COVID-19. Contact tracers throughout the region will be trained this weekend and begin work on Tuesday. The region’s contact tracers include a mix of health department employees, other county employees, summer interns and volunteers from the Medical Reserve Corps.
Phase 1 will last for two weeks while the number of COVID-19 cases in the Mid-Hudson region are closely monitored. If the downward trend reverses and the numbers increase, the state can put the region back on pause.
But if the epidemic continues to subside, the region will progress to Phase 2, which includes professional services, retail, administrative support and real estate. Phase 3 includes restaurants and food service and the last phase, Phase 4, includes arts, entertainment, recreation and education.
The state’s seven criteria for reopening included: a 14-day decline in net hospitalizations; a decline in death; fewer than 2 new hospitalizations per 100,000 residents; at least 30 percent availability of hospital beds; 30 percent availability of ICU beds; and an aggressive testing and contact tracing program.
Businesses seeking more information on the reopening guidelines should see the Forward New York Business Opening Lookup Toolkit at businessexpress.ny.gov/app/nyforward)
In an effort to help small businesses reopen and recover from the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 shutdown, the Putnam County Economic Development Corporation (PCEDC) has formed an advisory committee of local small businesses to help provide, share and disseminate information as we accelerate toward a post-Coronavirus world.
The PCEDC’s Small Business Advisory Committee represents a broad cross section of industries and business leaders from every corner of the county. Members include Tom Feighery, Fiddler’s Green Pub and Putnam County Project Manager; Bryan Kelly, AON Physical Therapy; Ed Galligan, Carmel Flower Shop; Chris DeBellis, Contractor & Assistant Town Code Enforcement Officer; Maria Quezada, Six Diamonds Tree Service and Landscaping; Brian Ledley, Ledley Food Service; Stephanie Tomlinson, Salon Uccelli; Kimball Gell, Dolly’s Restaurant at Garrison’s Landing; Nisim Sachakov, Limni & Mezzaluna Restaurants; Angela Briante, Briante Realty Group; and Emily Simoness, SPACE on Ryder Farm. PCEDC Board members on the Committee include Richard Weiss, CPA, Founder and Consultant Weiss Advisory Group, Margie Keith, retired Cornell Cooperative Extension Executive Director, Bob Zubrycki, Concertmaster for the American Symphony Orchestra and Walter Recher, SmallBall Marketing.
“This is a forum for small businesses to voice their concerns and share ideas that will help them to survive and prepare for a new economic reality” said Kathleen Abels, President, PCEDC. “Since the pandemic shut down life as we once knew it, we have seen many small businesses suffer and worry about their ability to carry on. We implore county residents to stay loyal to Putnam’s businesses by continuing to Shop Putnam now and to hold on just a little longer until more area businesses are allowed to reopen.”
“Putnam County is one community, the same community that encompasses the heroes of the pandemic, such as health care workers, first responders, delivery people, sanitation and utility workers, grocers and other essential businesses that have continued to serve us at their own peril,” said PCEDC Board Chairman Daniel Leary, Esquire.
The PCEDC has posted on their website, putnamedc.org, ongoing COVID-19 Related Business Resources to assist businesses to stay abreast of opportunities and orders from the State and Federal Government. NYS Industry Re-Opening Guidelines, including mandatory practices, recommended best practices and templates for business safety plans, can be found on Forward New York at https://forward.ny.gov/industries-reopening-phase
The PCEDC Small Business Advisory Committee will continue to meet during the coming months to promote Shop Putnam and to develop strategies to adjust to new trends in the way we think, live, work, learn, shop, travel and entertain.
For more information, contact Kathleen Abels, President, Putnam County Economic Development Corporation (845) 242-2212
About Putnam County Economic Development Corporation (PCEDC)
The mission of the Putnam County Economic Development Corporation (PCEDC) is to drive the economic vitality of Putnam County by working to attract appropriate new businesses, broaden the County’s tax base, retain and grow employment opportunities within the County and aid in the enhancement of the quality of life for residents. The PCEDC acts as a facilitator, bringing together businesses, government agencies and other stakeholders. Recently, the PCEDC has pivoted its focus to assist existing Main Street businesses to survive and recover from the economic impact of COVID-19.
For more information, please visit https://putnamedc.org/