Request that the State health department establish a testing site

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell has formally requested that the state health department establish a COVID-19 testing site in Putnam County without delay.

The lack of a state-run testing site within our county is putting Putnam County healthcare workers, first responders and residents at great risk Odell said.

“We need our own testing site so we can be sure of the accuracy of the results,” Odell said. “Secondhand information can be unreliable. Our first responders and health care workers need all the accurate information possible to protect themselves and our communities.”

The Putnam County Health Department is out of test kits and symptomatic residents must now travel to Westchester County, Dutchess County, Bear Mountain State Park or Danbury, Connecticut to get testing.

The information on positive test results we get from those out of county sites is often woefully incomplete, said Putnam County Commissioner of Health Michael Nesheiwat, MD.

Every testing site location is providing information in a different format, it is not standardized.  Much of the patient information is incomplete and numbers per municipality are skewed because zip codes overlap municipalities in Putnam.

“Sometimes a positive test report contains too little information to track a case,” Dr. Nesheiwat said. “We can’t operate in the dark. We need full, complete information to best protect the health and safety of our residents.”

Putnam received an additional 16 positive tests on Thursday, bringing the county’s total positive cases to 109.

“The Putnam County Bureau of Emergency Services, the Sheriff’s Department and local police, fire and ambulance corps need to know what they are facing when they answer an emergency call,” said Ken Clair, Commissioner of the Putnam County Bureau of Emergency Services. “Are people in the home carrying COVID-19?  Is the neighborhood a hot zone?  Are our first responders being exposed without knowing it?”

Putnam residents deserve the same access to COVID-19 tests as residents of larger counties, said Legislator Amy Sayegh, chair of the Health Committee.

“Just because we are a small county doesn’t mean we should be treated like an afterthought,” Sayegh said. “Our residents need a convenient place to find out if they have been infected with coronavirus so they can take steps to protect their own families and community.”

For the latest COVID-19 information, check the Putnam County website, www.putnamcountyny.gov.