CATSKILL — After running out of COVID-19 test kits over the weekend, Greene County received a donation of 25 test kits from Ulster County.
The county’s supply of 100 testing kits was depleted and an order for 1,000 new kits was placed to the state Department of Health, Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore, said.
Of the 100 tests, 89 were used at The Pines at Catskill Center Nursing and Rehabilitation, where 17 residents and nine staff members had tested positive as of Monday afternoon.
In light of the shortage, Ulster County donated 25 test kits, along with disposable gowns, Linger said. Greene County did not have a backup supply.
“I would like to thank Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan for helping out Greene County and protecting the residents of our region,” Linger said Wednesday. “The test kits donated today will be used to protect our most vulnerable populations in our nursing homes.”
Ryan emphasized the importance of sticking together during the crisis.
“This virus does not respect our arbitrary county borders, and neither can our response,” Ryan said. “To protect the health and safety of our area, we must aid our neighbors whenever possible. The response to COVID-19 illustrates that we are all in this fight together. As county executive, I will continue to collaborate with others to find new, creative solutions to combat this virus.”
Linger commended the administration at The Pines for taking action.
“The Pines’ procedure has been right on point,” Linger said. “They did everything they were supposed to do.”
An epidemiologist from the state has been assigned to The Pines’ case, Linger said.
“The Pines at Catskill Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation can confirm that it has residents that have tested positive for COVID-19,” according to a statement Monday from National Health Care Associates Chief Marketing Officer Genevieve Worthington. “We continue to follow the guidance and directives of state and federal officials, including the CDC and local [agencies].”
The county is also anticipating nearly $95,000 in grants from the state Department of Health for COVID-19 support.
The Finance Committee authorized $67,490 for COVID-19-related activities Monday and established an agreement between Greene County Public Health and Health Research Inc.
The county was notified that it will receive an additional $27,000 in funding, Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said.
The grant award, which came from the state Department of Health, is based on the county’s population, Greene County Public Health Director Kimberly Kaplan said.
The funds can be used for costs associated with quarantining, Kaplan said.
“We have to bring them thermometers and information about being quarantined,” Kaplan said. “It needs to be delivered to their homes, which involves a fair bit of driving.”
Greene County Public Health is delivering hand sanitizer and masks to people in quarantine, Kaplan said.
“If we need separate arrangements for housing, that could be included in [the grant],” she said.
The county has 131 residents in quarantine, according to data from the public health department Tuesday.
The county is exploring the option of using the funding to purchase test kits, Kaplan said.
“We are just awaiting clarification on some use of that funding,” she said.
The Legislature also took two steps Monday to offer financial relief to residents.
The Finance Committee authorized Greene County Treasurer Peter Markou to cancel the 1% interest on delinquent taxes for the months of April and May.
“I expect we will be coming back in May to extend the interest,” Markou said.
Markou also expressed uncertainty about whether the county would hold its annual auction for properties that were claimed by the county due to unpaid taxes.
Because of the financial burden the pandemic is placing on local businesses, the Finance Committee voted to defer payments to the county’s economic development loan program, which it operates using Community Development Block Grant funds, for three months. Nine loan recipients have accepted the deferment, while six others said they did not need it, Economic Development and Planning Director Karl Heck said.