COXSACKIE — Inmate COVID-19 cases accounted for 43% of the total number of Greene County’s cases Thursday.
Greene County reported 88 active cases, 38 stemming from the two state correctional facilities in Coxsackie. Of the 36 new cases reported, all but four were linked to the facilities.
The state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision reported five cases at Coxsackie Correctional Facility on Wednesday and 35 at Greene Correctional Facility. An additional 14 tests at Greene Correctional were pending. Four inmates have died from the virus at Coxsackie Correctional.
Visitation has been suspended at correctional facilities statewide since December.
“Community spread has been a driving factor behind the spread of COVID-19,” DOCCS spokesman Thomas Mailey said in a statement. “In response, the department implemented a number of protocols to stop the spread of COVID-19, including a statewide asymptomatic surveillance program developed in consultation with the Department of Health to test random populations in every facility each weekday; a regular, voluntary staff testing program at each of its facilities statewide; temporary suspension of intake of state-ready individuals from county jails; and temporary suspension of visitation. Between the implementation of these protocols and the continued downward trend of community spread, the number of cases at the majority of DOCCS’ facilities continues to go down.”
DOCCS has also been monitoring its facilities for compliance with health and safety protocols, Mailey said.
“To reinforce policies and protocols during this health crisis, DOCCS’ Office of Special Investigations has been performing compliance monitoring at DOCCS bureaus and facilities as well as bureau and facility executive team members who are working and walking through the locations every day,” he said. “There are progressive disciplinary steps for mask non-compliance, however, our monitoring of mask wearing shows compliance is high.”
Columbia County reported its first cases of the U.K. strain of COVID-19 last week.
Greene County Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore, said he was unsure if the U.K. strain has reared its head in Greene County.
“I don’t think it changes the way anyone’s behavior should be,” Linger said. “If someone is positive, they have to isolate regardless of what strain.”
“I was aware of the U.K. strain in Columbia,” Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said. “My public health [department] has not advised me of such. We get our notifications from the Wadsworth Lab in Albany unless we do our own quick tests, but I don’t think our quick tests [detect] differentiate stains.”
More than 4,000 Greene County residents are fully vaccinated, according to the state’s vaccine tracker. DOCCS has administered more than 13,000 vaccines to staff and inmates statewide.
Greene County Public Health is gearing up for its biggest POD to date next week, Linger said.
The county is anticipating about 1,500 vaccines next week, he said.
“We have one tray of Pfizer, which will be split between Columbia and Greene county,” Linger said. “I think it’s 585 each, our normal allocation of roughly 300 [Moderna] and another 300 to 400 of Moderna that was sent to us as well.”
The vaccines will be distributed at the Community Life Church in Catskill, Linger said, adding the date will depend on when the vaccines arrive.
“Our emergency manager [Dan King] believes we have the capacity there to do 500 people an hour, but we don’t have anywhere near that kind of supply,” Linger said. “We have the space, we have a plan, we have the people, we just need the vaccine.”
As of Tuesday, more than 5,000 people were on the county’s vaccine registry, Linger said.
The system is designed to expedite the process of getting a vaccine but is not a mechanism to schedule an appointment.
To register, visit https://www.greenegovernment.com/covid-sign-up
Those without internet access can call 518-822-9600.
The county also has a back-up list for PODs so any leftover vaccines are used, Linger said.
Eligibility for the vaccine was expanded Wednesday to include residents 60 and older.
A total of 67 Greene County residents have died from the virus and five residents are hospitalized. More than 200 residents were on quarantine Thursday.
The state Department of Health updated its quarantine guidance Wednesday to align with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fully vaccinated residents who received their last inoculation at least two weeks ago do not have to quarantine after being exposed to the virus as long as they are not symptomatic.
“We waited for four weeks for the quarantine guidance that has now finally come out,” Linger said. “Because the guidance just came out, [Public Health] will have to go back through their list and see how many people had been vaccinated fully that were put on quarantine that may not need to be.”