A year ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told — but did not admonish — New Yorkers about what the final piece of the puzzle would be for the state to return to something like normal life after COVID-19. That final piece was a vaccine.
It seems Columbia County got the message but Greene County did not.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Health Department set 70% as the benchmark for the gradual lifting of restrictions on all aspects of life. Seventy percent seemed a reasonable goal and one that feasibly could be reached considering the high demand for a vaccine to stop the spread of the virus.
That was then and this is now.
Slightly more than 70% of adults 18 and over in Columbia County have been fully vaccinated. But in Greene County, just 48.3% of the adult population have completed their vaccination series. Two counties moving in such opposite directions demands a closer look.
Greene County is showing little sense of urgency.
County Administrator Shaun Groden said Monday it’s unclear if the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases can be linked to July 4 gatherings or if it is the Delta Variant of the virus. Results from contact tracing will determine the county’s response, Groden added.
“Dependent upon if this turns out to be not Delta, that it’s just a continuation of people catching the original, then I don’t think there’ll be much we’ll do because the last few times we had scheduled pods, nobody showed up, so you’re down to the people who just don’t want them,” Groden said.
Greene County Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore, said the increase isn’t unexpected.
“We’re still at fairly low numbers and pretty much everything is opened up right now, so I don’t know that it’s surprising to see some added numbers there,” Linger said.
What we hear from Greene County is talk of surrender, that there is nothing more to be done, that the reason for the increase in cases is everything is opening up. Everything is opening up in Columbia County, too, but their numbers are going down.
At least Groden said the county will organize another inoculation pod to cater to those who aren’t vaccinated if the spike is related to the Delta Variant. But first, Greene County has to recognize its COVID fight is far from over.