March 29, 2020
Open Letter to Our Friends and Neighbors in Allegany County
On March 14 a State of Emergency was declared for Allegany County. This was done in conjunction with our Public Health Director, and as a response to conversations and meetings with the County School Superintendents in dealing with COVID-19. It was an official action, not taken lightly, and properly done. Since that declaration many other directives, executive orders, interviews, articles, notices, press releases, and announcements have gone out from our President, our Governor, various departments and agencies, and other folks just wanting to help out. Some have been official documents, some letters to the editor, and an awful lot of social media comments, both good and bad. Our positions in Allegany County government operations have allowed us to be involved in what seems like endless volumes of information from many varying groups and sources. Our Governor, our Congressman, our state elected officials, the state EMS group, the New York State Association of Counties, the Regional Economic Development Group, the NYS Department of Health, and the list goes on for those that have responded in some way. Many of these entities have set up daily briefings by phone, some statewide, some regionally, some with hundreds of callers on the line at one time, and many conversations with just a couple of people at a time. We have concentrated on what is best for Allegany County, how is the situation being handled in other areas of the state, and how can our actions improve the outcomes for you, our friends and neighbors.
Never in the history of Allegany County have we been faced with this type of situation. We have improvised and adapted beyond our typical emergency preparedness, usually storm related. There are many individuals and groups that have gone way beyond their regular everyday duties to help all of us in this extraordinary circumstance, and we have a long way to go. Our County Board of Health and the Health Department employees, our Board of Legislators, our Administrative Team, the Emergency Services personnel, our Department Heads, and County employees have all gone out of their way to do what needed to be done up to this point. Our Office for the Aging has had a spike in the home delivered meals and the volunteers and workers in this program have been magnificent. Our Public Works Department and employees have been a jack-of all-trades filling in as needed. Our first responders, healthcare providers, hospitals, and nursing facilities have continued to care for anyone that needs help, and they are on the front lines as the virus moves through our County. We mention these people, as we are in awe and admiration at the way people have stepped up to help without complaint.
As we go forward, we will continue to put the facts and information out to the public on a regular basis. We will update the known confirmed cases, the number of people that are quarantined and in isolation, and other statistics that are relayed to us from confirmed sources. We will try to keep a familiar format and report that is easy to understand as numbers change. We would also like to clarify that our E-911 Center is aware of the locations of the confirmed cases as well as those individuals in quarantine and isolation. If an emergency call is made from a location with a confirmed COVID-19 case or individuals in quarantine or isolation, that information will be relayed to our first responders. Our Public Health Director and the Board of Health has taken these cases very seriously. These individuals are checked on daily and have been assured that their privacy will be kept confidential. When someone has been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus, there is an extensive investigation as to who, what, where, and when contacts have been made over the past week to ten days depending on when their symptoms began. We remain confident and stand with our Public Health Director and the healthcare professionals she depends on as these individual cases are scrutinized. As the public, you should know that this virus is prevalent across New York State and across Allegany County. When you leave your home and go to areas that the general public visits, be it the grocery store, post office, or other exempt business, and service providers, you take a chance that you could contract the virus. This is why we have stated that we are battling a deadly virus, and it is more important than ever to reduce your chances of contracting the COVID-19 virus by practicing social distancing, remaining diligent with personal hand hygiene, limiting exposure throughout the community, and remaining home if possible. We are fairly certain that the number of cases will continue to rise as it has in other areas. Let’s be thankful for our rural, less populated area that will help keep those numbers down. Say a prayer for and be respectful of those that have the virus or are in isolation waiting for symptoms to subside. As a community, continue helping your friends and neighbors work through these anxious times, just we have always done.