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/
The Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) is fielding many questions regarding testing. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
What are the different testing options?
There are three types of COVID–19 tests: diagnostic (or PCR), antibody (or serum) and antigen. Diagnostic tests were the first COVID–19 tests available and identifies active infections. As of May 10, the FDA has given emergency use authorization, or EUA, to several antibody tests and one antigen test. Many more tests are on the market, but have not received an EUA. The FDA permits this under a special emergency policy, as long as the test is validated by the manufacturer and test results do not claim the ability to diagnose COVID-19 or prove immunity. At this time, the FDA does not allow any serological (blood) tests to be performed at home, so all tests must be conducted in clinical labs or by health care workers.
Why is there so much focus on antibody testing now?
COVID-19 antibody testing is taking place across the state by NYSDOH and healthcare providers. Antibody testing identifies if a person has ever been exposed to the novel coronavirus. A positive antibody result means that a person may currently be ill, had the virus and recovered, or that they were exposed to the virus and did not develop symptoms. Scientists and doctors do not yet know if a positive antibody test indicates if a person has immunity against the virus or how long that immunity might last.
Antibody testing helps public health professionals begin to determine the prevalence or how common the virus is in the population. It also allows for the identification of people who are eligible to donate plasma to be used in trials as a potential treatment for COVID–19. For more information about plasma donations, please visit https://www.nybc.org/
The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) is conducting a prevalence study through random antibody testing across NYS. They will never ask for payment, insurance information or your social security number to perform this testing. If you receive a letter, email or phone call asking for these things, DO NOT give out this information.
What is an antibody test?
COVID-19 antibody tests are used by healthcare providers to identify people who have previously been exposed to the virus. These tests are NOT reliable enough to draw any conclusions regarding protection from future coronavirus infections.
How is it collected?
These are blood collection tests, usually taken from a finger. Some results are available within a few minutes while others may take a few days.
What is actually being tested?
These blood tests look for antibodies to COVID-19. Antibodies are produced in response to an infectious agent. COVID-19 antibodies generally arise after four to ten days after infection.
Is it accurate?
Without undergoing the complete FDA approval process, there are likely to be quality control concerns. All tests that have been given EUA should bear a label stating, “This test has not been reviewed by the FDA.” This label will be visible to the laboratory but not always to the consumer. Every antibody test on the market is different. Speak to your physician about the antibody test they offer.
Bottom line: Current COVID-19 antibody test results should not be used to make individual decisions about returning to work or changes to social distancing. For example, if a test indicates you do have antibodies, you may still be able to get sick again from the virus , so hand hygiene and social and physical distancing are still important. This information is subject to change based on scientific research. The practical value of these tests is to provide public health experts with good information about rates of infection and disease spread throughout a community.
What is the diagnostic test?
Diagnostic tests, or PCR tests, are used by healthcare providers to identify people who are currently infected with COVID-19.
How is it collected?
Typically mucus from a person’s throat and/or nose is collected. (Saliva testing is still being studied.) Results from this diagnostic test can be provided within minutes (rapid testing) or may take a few days.
What is actually being tested?
PCR tests look for the genetic material of this novel coronavirus. PCR (polymerase chain reaction) technology amplifies any detectable viral genetic material, only present when a person is actively infected.
Is it accurate?
Currently, these are the most reliable tests. However, because it may take a few days before the virus sheds in the throat and nose, the timing of testing can impact results. In other words, this test may not identify an infection from a recent exposure.
Bottom line: While this is the most reliable form of diagnostic test for COVID-19, some studies show certain rapid diagnostic tests may miss nearly 10% of cases.
What is the antigen test?
This test may be used as a quick point–of–care test to detect active infections. It is not used to diagnose disease, but may be used to screen people and identify those that should have further diagnostic testing.
How is it collected?
This test is performed by a swab and culture of the nasal cavity with results potentially available within minutes.
What is actually being tested?
Antigen tests look for proteins on the surface of the virus. This is quite different from diagnostic tests that identify genetic material inside of the virus.
Is it accurate?
Researchers say that antigen testing reliability runs the gamut. One of the main advantages of an antigen test is the speed of the test, which can provide results in minutes. However, antigen tests may not detect all active infections, as they do not work the same way as a PCR test. This means that positive results from antigen tests are highly accurate, but there is a higher chance of false negatives, so negative results do not rule out infection and likely will need to be confirmed with a PCR test. More information on COVID-19 antigen test accuracy will become available as these tests reach the market. As of May 10, there has been one antigen test authorized by the FDA through EUA.
Bottom Line: Because these tests are quick, when they are found to be reliable, they might be used as a primary screening tool for people in hospitals, certain workplaces, or in other situations in which the person has the potential to spread disease to large numbers of people, or particularly vulnerable people. Quality control procedures will need to ensure results are reliable and that follow–up testing is conducted to diagnose active cases or make full medical diagnoses.
What is meant if a test is highly sensitive or highly specific?
Sensitivity and specificity are the two measures that describe how reliable a test is. Sensitivity measures the percentage of people, on average that the test correctly identifies as having antibodies. Specificity measures the percentage of people, on average that the test correctly identifies as not having antibodies.
A highly sensitive test will have a low false negative rate, meaning the test will correctly identify positive cases at a high rate. A test with high specificity will have a low false positive rate, meaning the test will correctly identify negatives cases at a high rate. The best tests have high sensitivity and high specificity.
Where can I get tested?
There are dozens of antibody and diagnostic testing locations throughout the county and the state. Call your healthcare provider to find out if they offer testing. The NYSDOH continues to run diagnostic testing sites. To find out if you meet the guidelines for testing, you can take an online assessment at https://covid19screening.health.ny.gov/.
For additional testing questions or information regarding COVID-19, email COVID19@putnamcountyny.gov
BREWSTER, NY— Seniors have been singled out as “vulnerable” since the COVID-19 outbreak first began. The physical health of older Americans necessarily became a priority, but as the benefits of staying at home are obvious, so are the troubling social and emotional effects of isolation. Every May, the national Administration for Community Living brings into the spotlight the observance of Older Americans Month. The theme for 2020 is “Make Your Mark,” paying tribute to the countless contributions seniors have made in their communities, and invites communities, in turn, to pay it forward by supporting the health and well being of the older generation.
“The connections created by our senior programs are truly a bright spot during this difficult time. We know our seniors are anxiously waiting to be able to reconnect in person at their local centers. The staff at our Office for Senior Resources have designed and implemented wonderful ways to serve the community. From fresh, home-delivered meals to connecting seniors with pen-pal groups in their local towns, we are supporting our seniors in ways we may never have imagined before,” says Putnam County Executive, MaryEllen Odell.
“Many of us are counting down the days until we will again be able to visit with the seniors in our lives,” says Michael Cunningham, Director of Putnam County’s Office for Senior Resources (OSR). “The reality is, we aren’t sure yet when our doors will safely reopen— but that uncertainty drove us to create and implement innovative program offerings for all Putnam seniors using both voice and video conference calling tools.”
All seniors in Putnam, whether or not they have previously participated in a senior center program are encouraged to call the OSR. Their staff, currently working remotely, will assist in identifying programs that suit both the callers’ needs and their interests.
“It is important to remember that social distancing does not have to mean isolation, especially for seniors. Loneliness is bad for your health, but you don’t have to face the uncertainties alone. It is our goal to support seniors and offer them various ways to connect with one another, connect with professionals and connect with their larger community all while staying safe at home,” adds Michael Cunningham.
“The response to our one-on-one wellness calls and remote group events such as ‘Coffee and Conversation,’ have been very positive,” continues Michael Cunningham. Other popular programs include: Book Club meetings, Brain Fitness Activity Groups, Zoom Social Dancing, Strength and Balance Exercise and Caregiver Support Groups. TeleBingo and other new programs are being rolled out as well.
An innovative program called robotic pet companionship is one of the many new offerings from OSR. Robotic pets look, sound and feel like real pets. This alternative form of pet therapy has been proven to enhance the well-being, sense of purpose and quality of life of individuals living with dementia. During COVID-19, these robotic pets are being utilized to address the emotional challenges that often accompany social distancing. To learn more about the programs offered visit putnamcountyny.com/OSR or call 845-808-1700.
Putnam County Office for Senior Resources is responsible for stimulating, promoting, coordinating and administering local programs and services for older Putnam County residents. In carrying out this responsibility, the Office for Senior Resources’ primary emphasis is on the development of long-term care programs and services necessary to meet the long term care needs of Putnam County’s elderly and to support informal caregivers.
The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services, provided directly and through collaboration, include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our County website at www.putnamcountyny.com/coronavirus; or visit our social media sites @PutnamHealthNY on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.