COVID infections skyrocket

Greene County is at the highest number of COVID-19 infections since February, before the vaccine was widely available. Bloomberg photo by Dwayne Senior

CATSKILL — The number of COVID-19 infections continues to rise in Greene County and is the highest since before vaccines became widely available.

There were 142 active positive cases in the county as of Wednesday, according to Greene County Public Health.

The last time there were more active infections in the county was Feb. 1, when there were 147, according to Public Health data.

Officials say there is no single specific cause for the recent spike other than the rapid rise of the highly contagious delta variant.

“We haven’t had a superspreader event that I know of,” Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said Thursday. “I don’t know if it’s because schools are open, but I am not aware of any big school outbreaks. There are no outbreaks in nursing homes.”

Two elementary school students and an employee in the high school in the Catskill district have tested positive for the virus, District Superintendent Ronel Cook announced Sept. 22 on the district website. One of the affected students was last at the school Sept. 17, and the other student and employee were at school Sept. 20, Cook said.

“No additional quarantining resulting from contact within the school setting was required for either case,” Cook said.

The majority of infections in the county remain among unvaccinated individuals.

“If it continues to be the unvaccinated who are the cause of the uptick, it’s because the delta variant is much more efficient in transmission — it is much easier to pass,” Groden said. “It is different from a year ago when it was the original strain. Now we have the variant, which should give people more cause to be vaccinated.”

After the number of active cases dropped to zero for a couple of days in early June, rates have been rising steadily in Greene County, reaching 100 for the first time in several months on Sept. 16.

Infections continue to spike.

“We picked up 22 new cases yesterday and 10 this morning,” Groden said Thursday.

Greene County has the lowest vaccination rate against COVID-19 of all eight counties in the Capital Region, with 58.7% of all county residents and 66.7% of county adults with at least one dose of the vaccine as of Wednesday, according to the state COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker.

The eight counties in the Capital Region include Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren and Washington counties.

Unvaccinated county residents account for three-quarters of the new infections and the vast majority of hospitalizations due to the virus.

“It’s just the general population. Seventy-five percent of the new positives are unvaccinated people,” Groden said. “My Public Health Department calls it community spread — normal contact, normal activity, but afflicting mostly the unvaccinated. What does that tell us? Get vaccinated.”

The county had the highest number of active infections this year on Jan. 7, when there were 400 cases, according to Public Health.

County officials do not have plans for future PODs, or points of distribution, where vaccines would be administered, but area pharmacies have ample inventory of the vaccine, Groden said.

“You can walk into your pharmacy right now and get vaccinated,” he said.

There have been 3,915 COVID-19 infections in Greene County since the beginning of the outbreak in March 2020 and 79 residents have died.

The seven-day rolling positivity rate in the county stands at 5.7%, with 274 residents in quarantine, according to Public Health.

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(4) comments

stanley j. serwan

Let's face it Groden & certain legislator's are clueless & just look the other way,just keep notifying the state AG's office!

scottmyers

Kimberly Kaplan

Director of Greene County Public Health 411 Main Street

Catskill, NY 12414

May 20, 2020

Re: Demand to enforce COVID-19 protective practices by County and Village police

Dear Ms. Kaplan:

This is a request, in your role as Director of Public Health, to provide instruction to the County Police regarding COVID-19 protective equipment and procedures, then ORDER that they wear protective protection, and then enforce the procedures.

Then, in your role as Director of Public Health, provide instruction for the Village of Catskill Police regarding COVID-19 protective equipment and procedures, then ORDER that they wear protective protection, and then enforce the procedures.

As you know binding State Executive Order from Governor Cuomo requires masks to protect from COVID-19.1

The COVID-19 statistics for Greene County are not good.2

In Greene County, 238 people tested positive for Corona Virus. 64 are active, and 15 died of the virus here in Greene County.

1,000s of New York City police have tested positive for COVID-19, over 29 have died.3

The behaviors of the Village of Catskill Police put me in danger by exposure to their staff without masks.

This is a request to respond in writing that you will instruct and order that County and Village police wear protective equipment and use COVID-19 safe protocols.

1 http://www.op.nysed.gov/COVID-19_EO

2 https://www.greenegovernment.com/response-to-the-2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-in-greene-

county-ny

3 https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/home

I’ve worked since 9/11 to make Greene County safe for myself and family. So far I’ve failed. The COVID-19 response doesn’t seem adequate. The failure of the County and Village police to follow safe practices must change. As you know, management of this virus, absent an effective vaccine, requires safe distancing, face masks, and all other due caution.

I look forward to your response.

Very truly yours,

Scott Myers

scottmyers

Kimberly Kaplan

Director of Greene County Public Health

411 Main Street

Catskill, NY 12414

August 4, 2021

Re: Demand to create competent, effective COVID-19 vaccination campaign

Dear Ms. Kaplan:

As I’ve written, Greene County’s response to COVID-19 is inadequate. I argue that your lack of a Masters in Public Health (“MPH”) matters. Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden defends your qualifications. But a professional degree tends to insulate the job from politics.

Three months ago, my sister’s husband died of COVID-19. My sister Jenny worked as an activities director at an upscale retirement facility. She decided to retire at 64 to prevent bringing the virus home to my father, who she cared for. A week later, she and her husband tested positive for COVID-19. Jerry died four days later.

The purpose of this letter is to demand an immediate campaign to vaccinate Greene County residents. Our 49% vaccination rate is pathetic. The national average is 70%. The benefits of herd immunity begin at 70%.

My criticism of your department began with a lawsuit to pause jail construction. I argued that the workers came from more infected places each day. The criticism continued on May 20, 2020, with a letter demanding that you order county deputies and village/town police to wear masks.

You failed to reply to either demand. You have no plans for a mask mandate. Your husband’s response is to arrest, charge and prosecute me. I think you get my point.

I look forward to your response.

Very truly yours,

Scott Myers

scottmyers

Kimberly Kaplan, our Director of Public Health, doesn’t have a Masters in Public Health.

She’s compromised by her marriage to Ed Kaplan, the Greene County Attorney. As such, she’s neither qualified nor independent.

An independent Director of Public Health would not let politics interfere with the pandemic‘s science.

I wrote to her a year ago to require masks for law enforcement, and got no response.

This is another example of a lack of professionalism by Greene County government.

The unjustifiable jail, gulags for homeless, buying jail equipment with Red Cross money are other blatant examples.

COVID-19 remains an epidemic here because Kimberly Kaplan failed to enforce masks, and fails to create an effective vaccination campaign.

I’m forced to litigate because they seem intransigent.

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