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First COVID-19 Cases Turn Up In Orange, Dutchess Counties; More In Ulster County

Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Locations with confirmed COVID-19 cases as of March 11, 2020 from the CDC

The first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed Thursday in Orange and Dutchess Counties, New York. These come after Ulster County confirmed two additional cases today.

Orange County Health Commissioner Dr. Irina Gelman says her Health Department was notified Thursday morning of the first positive test result of an Orange County resident for COVID-19. The person is hospitalized at Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital in Newburgh. Dan Maughan is chief operating officer of the hospital.

“Ultimately, once we had a positive, there were people that came into contact with the individual who are employees who we did and have now been put on furlough, and we don’t expect nor suspect that they are ill,” Maughan says. “We definitely know they are not currently ill and we don’t expect them to become ill.”

He says 26 employees were furloughed. Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro delivered word of a case in his county Thursday afternoon.

“We have our first positive identified case of COVID-19 in Dutchess County. This particular case does not identify itself as having widespread public health concern,” Molinaro says. “And Dutchess County is taking the step of encouraging the suspension of large social gatherings, public gatherings.”

Molinaro says the county will activate its emergency operations center Friday. Dutchess County Department of Behavioral and Community Health Commissioner Dr. Anil Vaidian says the resident is recovering at home.

“So as of this morning, we were monitoring 24 individuals. And the case happened to be one of those individuals that we were monitoring,” says Vaidian. “So some of those people that we were monitoring were related to travel. Others were related to exposures that occurred recently with the Ulster County case.”

Molinaro says schools should not close without cause.

“We have advised, however, that athletic competitions and activities after school, social gatherings, ice-cream socials, things of that nature do fall within our recommendation for large social gatherings and ought to be suspended until we can be guaranteed that we’re not unintentionally and broadly allowing for transmission of the disease,” Molinaro says.

Molinaro says the recommendation is to suspend large social gatherings until the end of April. At that point, he will consider whether to extend the recommendation or advance it to an order. Meantime, Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan declared a state of emergency Thursday, saying the county received word of two additional cases in the morning. He says both residents were connected to the previously announced cases in the Towns of Rochester and Shawangunk, bringing the total number of cases in Ulster County to four. Ryan also announced the formation of a health and safety task force to help respond to COVID-19. And he is suspending in-person county services for two weeks beginning March 16th.

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