County orders virus test kits, drug overdoses spike

HUDSON—Suppliers have been identified and an order for coronavirus test kits is being prepared.

Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb made that announcement April 6 following extensive research into commercially available coronavirus test kits.

“Picking out the legitimate suppliers and choosing the test kits that not only meet our needs, but that can be handled by a Capital District-area laboratory, was an intensive process. We are confident we have arrived at several good choices. It’s good to know we’ll have the kits on hand relatively soon,” Mr. Mabb said in the April 6 coronavirus update press release issued by county Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell.

“This is good news. I appreciate the fact that the county is moving ahead with the purchase of test kits. This will greatly enhance our ability to measure the impact of the virus as it moves through the county,” county Emergency Management Director David W. Harrison, Jr., said in the release.

Also in the release, the county Department of Health announced a recent spike in the number of overdoses in Columbia County. Anyone with an active addiction is encouraged to take the following precautions:

*If you must use, use safely or seek help for your addiction

*Have access to NARCAN. To get a supply of NARCAN call Greener Pathways at 518-822-7437

*Let a friend or loved one know where you are

*If someone you know experiences an overdose, call 911 immediately. You can be protected by the Good Samaritan Law.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented disruption to the normal operating procedures of health and human services agencies. Unfortunately, the necessity for overdose prevention and response has not abated during the pandemic. Be aware that the substance use community faces increased risk as support services shutter or slow down operations, hospitals face severely increased caseloads, and people who use drugs are asked to maintain social distance from their support or safety groups.

Help is available by calling Greener Pathways at 518-822-7437 or Columbia County Pathways To Recovery at 877-467-3365. In an emergency, call 911. Minutes matter in an overdose and you can save a life.

Also in the Monday release, Chairman Murell said he has established a committee designed to analyze the new state budget and its potential impact on the county budget.

The committee is composed of Deputy Chairman Ron Knott, Deputy Chairman and Finance Committee Chairman James Guzzi, Treasurer PJ Keeler, Controller Ron Caponera, Director of Human Resources Michaele Williams-Riordan, and Mr. Murell, who also serves as the county’s budget officer.

“We need to try to get a solid picture of where we are headed at this unprecedented time. The committee intends to meet with the full Board of Supervisors within the next week or two,” said Mr. Murell.

The Columbia County Board of Supervisors will hold an online full Board of Supervisors meeting, April 8 at 7:30 p.m. due to coronavirus. The public can join at: https://youtu.be/k54We8mxxPM

Anyone who wants to donate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as N95 masks, face shields, and gowns, are advised to contact the Emergency Management Office at 518-828-1212. If there is no answer, leave a message and someone will return the call.

Food donations should be directed to the county Office for the Aging 518-828-4258 and local pantries.

“I would like to thank those who have contributed to date, and those who plan to contribute going forward. We appreciate these efforts at this extraordinarily difficult time,” Mr. Murell said in the release.

Columbia County Sheriff David Bartlett has established a new hotline for “the elderly and vulnerable in our county, including those with medical conditions or are disabled,” who would welcome a deputy checking on their well-being on a daily basis. The number for the hotline is 518-828-0601 X 1400.

“Leave a message and someone will return your call. A time frame, morning or afternoon, will be established for when you would like the deputy to come to your residence. When the deputy comes by, he or she will knock on the door, then retreat to a safe distance and wait for someone to signal that all is well inside,” the sheriff said.

The state’s coronavirus website, with up-to-the-minute information, can be found at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/home.

For the most up-to-date, accurate information, visit the County Department of Health’s website at https://www.columbiacountynyhealth.com/home/coronavirus-covid-19 or their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/Columbia-County-Department-of-Health-469399129790791/

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