LOCALS TO VACATION HOMEOWNERS: YOU CAN’T RIDE OUT CORONAVIRUS HERE

Community spread of Covid-19 in the metropolitan area has made New York City the epicenter of the pandemic in America. So it’s understandable that New Yorkers with the means are looking to leave the city during the outbreak.

However, three counties in the Catskills are asking downstaters from New York City and Westchester County to please, please NOT try to flee the virus or quarantine themselves in their communities. Rural counties don’t have nearly the infrastructure or resources that more populated downstate counties have.

The Chairman of the Greene County Legislature tells Jenna Flanagan, the request is by no means a slight to anyone but rather a reflection of the communities upstate. While this is remains polite request, there is no formal directive preventing downstaters from traveling north.

Aired on March 30, 2020. 

TRANSCRIPT

HI I'M JENNA FLANNIGAN OF METRO FOCUS AND AS YOU CAN SEE WE'RE NOT IN OUR STUDIOS WE'RE PRACTICING SOCIAL DISTANCING AND BROADCASTING TO YOU FROM HOME.

WE HOPE AS MANY OF YOU THAT CAN ARE ALSO WORKING FROM HOME AT THIS TIME AS WELL.

SOME OF YOU MIGHT BE ENJOYING YOUR SUPER SHORT COMMUTE BUT OTHERS ARE LOOKING TO GET OUT OF THE CITY RIDE OUT THE THE PANDEMIC IN A COUNTRY SETTING BUT HEADING NORTH MIGHT NOT BE THE BEST IDEA.

SULLIVAN AND GREEN COUNTIES HAVE RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED THAT DOWN STATERS, QUOTE, PLEASE DON'T TRAVEL HERE FROM ANOTHER COUNTY OR GEOGRAPHIC REGION AS IN WESTCHESTER COUNTY IN THE FIVE BUREAUS WHERE THERE IS COMMUNITY SPREAD OF THE COVID-19 VIRUS.

IT IS BETTER THAN YOU STAY AT HOME AND LIMIT YOUR MOVEMENTS.

END QUOTE.

IS THIS FAIR?

AND WHAT IS THE REASONING BEHIND THIS THANKS BUT NO THARNKS PLEAE STAY AWAY QUESTION.

WE'RE JOINLED BY WE'RE JOINED BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE GREEN COUNTY LEGISLATURE, PATRICK, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU JENNA.

FIRST I WANT TO START OFF BY ASKING WHAT WAS THE REASON ASKING SPECIFICALLY NEW YORKERS PLEASE DON'T COME NORTH.

WELL, WHEN THIS FIRST STARTED I THINK ALL OF OUR LEGISLATURES, WE HAVE A 14 MEMBER BOARD WE WERE GETTING CALLS ABOUT INCREASE IN TRAFFIC, WHERE PEOPLE WOULD COME UP IN AND LIGHT IT UP AT NIGHT.

THEY HAD VEHICLES IN THE DRIVEWAYS.

CONCERNS WERE COMING IN SOME OF OUR GROCERY STORES DIDN'T HAVE THINGS ON THE SHELVES, STAPLES LIKE EGGS AND MILK, THINGS LIKE THAT SO WHEN WE STARTED LOOKING AT THIS VERY QUICKLY OUR VISITORS, OUR SECOND HOMEOWNERS WERE COMING UP QUITE OBVIOUSLY TO GET AWAY FROM THE DENSITY THAT IS WHERE THEY ARE PRIMARILY.

OUR RESIDENTS COULDN'T GET THE THINGS THEY NEEDED AT THE GROCERY STORE BUT AS THIS EVOLVED, WE WERE FINDING THAT WITH AN INCREASE, A DRAMATIC INCREASE IN POPULATION FOR THE COUNTY AS WE RUN THE MATRIX ON OUR EMERGENCY OPERATION CENTER AND WE RUN THE NUMBERS OF AVAILABLE RESOURCES WE HAVE TO SERVE PEOPLE, WHICH IS WHAT WE DO, YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU'RE BASING THAT OFF A 48,000 POPULATION AND YOU HAVE A 20% INCREASE LITERALLY OVERNIGHT THAT CREATES DRAMATIC PROBLEMS FOR US IF WE HAVE TO PRO VIED RESOURCES SO OUR BOARD DECIDED WE WOULD PUT THE REQUEST OUT THERE FOR PEOPLE TO PLEASE JUST FOLLOW WHAT THE GOVERNOR AND THE PRESIDENT HAS SAID AND STAY AT HOME.

THAT WAS OUR FIRST LINE OF REQUESTS WAS TO PLEASE STAY AT HOME BUT THEY ARE PROPERTY OWNERS, THEY HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO BE IN THOSE HOMES.

WE RECOGNIZE THAT AND UNDERSTAND THAT AND I THINK THAT WHAT WE WANTED TO DO WAS MAKE SURE THAT THEY UNDERSTAND THAT WHEN YOU LEAVE YOUR RESIDENTS WHETHER NEW YORK CITY, CONNECTICUT OR NEW JERSEY WHEREVER YOU MAY ACTUALLY HAVE BETTER RESOURCE AS AVAILABLE TO YOU SHOULD NEED THEM HAD YOU STAYED AT YOUR PRIMARY RESIDENTS.

I'M WONDERING IF YOU COULD PAINT US A PICTURE WHAT YOU MEAN BY BETTER RESOURCES.

I UNDERSTAND GREEN COUNTY NOT UNLIKE A LOT OF COUNTIES IN UP STATE NEW YORK THERE AREN'T, YOU KNOW, A WHOLE BUNCH OF HOSPITALS OR EMS WORKERS, EVERYTHING IS MUCH MORE SPREAD OUT AND THE RESOURCES AREN'T THERE IN THE SAME WAY.

RIGHT WE SHARE A HOSPITAL WITH COLUMBIA COUNTY WHICH IS ACROSS THE HUDSON RIVER SO MOST OF OUR SECOND HOMES ARE UP ON THE MOUNTAIN TOP.

HUNTER, ASHEVILLE , JUTTE THE TOWNS CLOSE TO SUMMER AND WINTER ACTIVITIES WE OFFER IN GREEN COUNTY AND THAT WE PROMOTE QUITE ACTIVELY.

FROM THOSE LOCATIONS IT'S PROBABLY A 30 TO 35-MINUTE RIDE TO THAT HOSPITAL AND, YOU KNOW, WHAT A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED TO FIND OUT WHEN THEY COME UP HERE IS THAT ALL OF OUR FIRE COMPANIES ARE VOLUNTEERS.

WE DON'T HAVE ONE PAID FIRE COMPANY IN GREEN COUNTY.

PWAIT, PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED O FIND THAT OUT.

THEY'RE SURPRISED TO FIND THAT OUT BECAUSE THEY'RE USED TO SEEING A PAID FIRE SHOW UP, THEY'RE THERE MUCH QUICKER BECAUSE THEY'RE STAFFED, THEY'RE AT A STATION, THEY'RE READY TO GO.

WHEREAS HERE IN GREEN COUNTY THAT'S NOT THE CASE.

THEY'RE SURPRISED TO FIND THAT OUT.

THAT'S A RESOURCE THAT WOULD NEED TO BE USED IF IT'S CALLED INTO SERVICE BECAUSE OF THE EXTRA POPULATION.

WE HAVE MULTIPLE AMBULANCE COOPERATIONS IN THE COUNTY.

THEY ALL OPERATE INDEPENDENTLY.

WE HAVE FOUR PARAMEDIC FLIGHTERS THAT SERVICE THE ENTIRE COUNTY.

SO YOU CAN SEE AS, IF PEOPLE ARE GOING TO GET SICK AND NEED THOSE RESOURCES AND YOU CAN NAIL THAT DOWN TO A PERCENTAGE OF A POPULATION YOU CAN SEE WHERE OUR TROUBLE IS AS YOU INCREASE THAT POPULATION YOU VERY QUICKLY OVER RUN WHAT YOUR AVAILABLE RESOURCES CAN PROVIDE.

SO IN THAT SENSE THAT'S WHY WE HAVE CONCERN, IF WE INCREASE OUR POPULATION BY 20% OVERNIGHT HOW DO WE HANDLE THAT AND CAN WE PUT A REQUEST OUT THAT JUST SAYS, LOOK, STAY WHERE YOU ARE BECAUSE YOU'RE PROBABLY GOING TO BE OFFERED BETTER HEALTH CARE THAN WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO GET HERE AND IN A QUICKER TIME FRAME AND THE GROCERY STORES THAT ARE IN THAT AREA, IN OUR AREA, ARE MOSTLY SMALL BUSINESSES.

THEY'RE NOT BIG CHAINS.

WE HAVE A COUPLE CHAIN STORES IN THE VILLAGE CATSVILLE JUST OFF THE FREE WRAY ON THEIR WAY UP THE MOUNTAIN.

SO THEY'LL STOP AT A FRESH CHOPPER OR A WALMART AND THEN NONE OF THE STUFF IS AVAILABLE FOR ANYONE.

SO THOSE BUSINESSES, ESPECIALLY THE SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS, THEY PLAN FOR THIS SORT OF THING.

THEY KNOW WHEN THE WINTER AND SUMMER TRAFFIC IS, SO IF THEY'RE DOWN AS MOST OF THEM WOULD BE THIS TIME OF YEAR TO A ONCE A WEEK DELIVERY AND ALL OF A SUDDEN EVERY DAY THEIR STORE IS GETTING EMPTIER AND EMPTIER THEY CAN'T REPLENISH THAT QUICK ENOUGH.

SO WE CALLED SOME OF THE SUPPLIERS AND EXPLAINED THE SITUATION AND MOST OF THEM TWO WEEKS LATER HAVE STARTED TO COME BACK WITH SOME OF THOSE STAPLES.

THE GOVERNOR, WE WENT TO THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE BECAUSE HE ISSUED AN EXECUTIVE ORDER SO THAT WE WERE UNABLE TO PUT IN EMERGENCY ORDERS INTO EFFECT WITH ANYTHING RECORDING THE CORONAVIRUS.

EVERYTHING HAD TO GO THROUGH THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE.

SO I ISSUED THREE EMERGENCY ORDERS IN THE VERY BEGINNING, ONE OF THOSE WAS PREEMPTED BY THE GOVERNOR'S EXECUTIVE ORDER SO EVERYTHING, WE WERE GOING TO THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE AND EXPLAINING LOOK, OUR RESOURCES CAN'T HANDLE THE ADDITIONAL TRAFFIC PLEASE SHUT THIS TRAFFIC DOWN FOR US.

HE WOULD NOT DO IT.

REFUSED TO DO IT.

THIS WAS A CONVERSATION WITH MANY, MANY COUNTIES, EVERY NIGHT WE HAVE A CONFERENCE CALL WITH ALL 57 COUNTIES PLUS THE FIVE BURROUGHS.

SO THIS WASN'T A DECISION THAT WAS MADE WITHOUT THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE SIX COUNTIES THAT YOU ESSENTIALLY CALLED OUT THE FIVE BURROUGHS IN WESTCHESTER.

WE KNOW A MAJORITY OF THOSE HOUSES, SECOND HOMEOWNERS, THEIR PRIMARY RESIDENTS THERE AND LOT OF THAT COME FRZ VARIOUS SOURCES WHETHER THE PROPERTY TAX ROLES OR ABSENTEE BALLOT THAT'S GO OUT.

SO WE HAVE A GOOD IDEA AS TO WHERE MOST OF THOSE ARE FROM BUT NOT ALL OF THEM ARE FROM THERE.

OKAY.

SO AS WE GOT TALKING ABOUT THE LACK OF ABILITY TO ISSUE AN EMERGENCY ORDER I ASK MID ADMINISTRATOR IF THERE'S ANYTHING THERE THAT CAN WE ASK THESE PEOPLE TO PLEASE THINK ABOUT WHAT THEY'RE DOING AND LET THEM KNOW IF THEY COME HERE THEY HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO STAY WHERE THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO BE AND FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES.

WELL, SPEAKING OF THE GUIDELINES, I DO WANT TO ASK BECAUSE I UNDERSTAND GREEN COUNTY AS OF RIGHT NOW ONLY HAS A HANDFUL OF CONFIRMED CORONAVIRUS CASES, DO YOU KNOW IF THOSE WERE FROM COMMUNITIES SPREAD IN THE COUNTY FOR THE REGION, OR WERE THEY CASE THAT'S CAME FROM OUTSIDE IN.

WE KNOW THAT THE FIRST THREE THAT SHOWED UP FOR US CAME FROM OUTSIDE AND FROM THERE ARE NOW A MIX OF CONTRACTED WITHIN THE COUNTY AND OUTSIDE THE COUNTY.

WHAT WE DON'T KNOW IS UNLESS SOMEBODY SPECIFICALLY TELLS US THAT THEY CAME FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE TO QUARANTINE HERE WE DON'T KNOW IF THOSE PEOPLE ARE HERE BECAUSE IF THEY WERE FOUND SOMEWHERE ELSE THEY'RE ACTUALLY BEING MONITORED BY THEIR HOME HEALTH DEPARTMENT SO WE KNOW WE HAVE PEOPLE FROM ONE OF THE FIVE BURRESS BURROUGHS AT LEAST ONE THAT ARE BEING MONITORED BY THAT HEALTH DEPARTMENT BUT WE WERE INFORMED THEY WERE QUARANTINING HERE.

SO THE CITY REACHED OUT AND TOLD YOU THEY WERE QUARANTINING IN YOUR COUNTY.

RIGHT.

SO WE KNOW WE HAVE THOSE.

OUR FIRST ACTUAL QUARANTINE MONITOR CASES HAVE NOW COME OFF OF THAT LIST.

THEY'VE FINISHED OUT THEIR QUARANTINE TIME.

SO THE WAY THAT WE'RE REPORTING THIS IN GREEN COUNTY IS A TOTAL NUMBER OF CASE AS CROSS THE ENTIRE COUNTY.

WE HAVE 38 PEOPLE BEING MONITORED RIGHT NOW BY OUR RELATIVELY SMALL PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT AND WE EXPECT THAT NUMBER TO GROW BUT THAT NUMBER WILL FLUKT YOU ATE.

THE TOTAL NUMBER OF CASES BE TALLY BUT NEW PEOPLE WILL COME ON, NEW EXPOSURE.

WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME, ABOUT 30 SECONDS LEFT, BUT I KNOW THE GOVERNORS PUT SO MUCH WORK INTO SAYING WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER AND I KNOW FOR A LOT OF THE COMMUNITIES IN THE CATS SKILL SECOND HOMEOWNERS AND WEEKENDERS HAVE HELPED TO CITELIZE THAT ECONOMY.

AND WE LOVE THOSE PEOPLE.

MOST OF ARE VERY IMPORTANT MEMBERS IN THE COMMUNITIES.

THIS COMES DOWN TO SAVING LIVES.

IT COMES DOWN TO FLATTENING THE CURVE.

AND THAT'S THE BOTTOM LINE.

I KNOW I PROBABLY HURT SOME FEELINGS OUT THERE.

RIGHT NOW THAT CAN'T BE MY CERTAIN.

OKAY.

WELL, LISTEN, CHAIRMAN, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US ON THE PROGRAM AND EXPLAINING SOMETHING THAT MIGHT HAVE FELT A LITTLE BIT WEIRD, ESPECIALLY TO DOWN STATERS, BUT ACTUALLY ONCE YOU EXPLAIN IT, IT MAKES A LOT OF SENSE.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

YOUR WELCOME THANK YOU FOR ASKING.

MY CELLPHONE IS ALWAYS ON.

ABSOLUTELY.

Funders

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