Virus tests needed, emergency funds established

HUDSON—The Columbia County Health Department website reports that as of 3:30 p.m., March 31, Columbia County has 41 positive cases of COVID-19. Six of the positive cases are hospitalized, four of those are in the ICU. Test results have been completed for 371 Columbia County residents. There are 68 people under mandatory quarantine and 18 under precautionary quarantine. There are 9 residents with suspected, not tested cases.

“We feel there are many more than that. We simply don’t have the test kits that would enable us to get a truer picture regarding the extent of the disease,”  according to a March 31 press release from Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell.

As of Monday, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo had extended the directive that all non-essential workers remain home through April 15. School districts have also been instructed to adhere to that date. In addition, President Donald Trump has extended the directive that social distancing practices throughout the United States remain in effect until April 30. Read more…

Rescue squad is ready

VALATIE—The Valatie Rescue Squad has been taking measures to be prepared to meet the challenge of assisting the Columbia County community during the COVID-19 emergency.

“This is a serious situation, but we are preparing ourselves for whatever happens,” Valatie Rescue Squad Operations Director Anand Balasar said in a recent press release.

He observed that the generosity of local businesses and other local first responders “has been fantastic” as the squad has been diligently working to stock up with as many of the protective items they may need to protect themselves and the public. Read more…

Ancram Board holds a meeting… very carefully

ANCRAM—Though it was the regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Ancram Town Board, March 19, there wasn’t much that was regular about it.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic saw to that.

All town board members, the town clerk and the town highway superintendent were present as usual, but their seating arrangement had changed. The officials were seated in a wide semi-circle that spanned the width of the meeting room—each person sitting at least six feet from the person next to them, some at individual tables.

One board member wore pink latex gloves. Read more…

Two New COVID-19 response funds launch in Columbia County

HUDSON–Two new emergency funds to rapidly deploy resources to community-based organizations and small businesses as they respond to the impact of the coronavirus have been established in Columbia County.

Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation (BTCF) has launched the Columbia County COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. It will provide flexible resources to nonprofit organizations to meet the needs of individuals and families who are disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus. The fund will prioritize human services and community-based organizations with experience helping individuals and families stabilize their lives in times of crisis. Donations to the fund and applications from eligible nonprofits can be made at BerkshireTaconic.org/ColumbiaCOVID19. BTCF staff and volunteer members of BTCF’s Fund for Columbia County committee will review and award grants.

Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and Columbia Economic Development Corporation (CEDC), in partnership with the Columbia Chamber of Commerce and the Hudson Business Coalition, have established the Columbia County Business Continuity Fund. It will provide cash grants to small businesses in our city and town centers with fewer than 10 full-time employees and less than $1 million in annual revenue. These businesses can apply for grant funds from $1,000 to $5,000 to cover costs related to retaining employees, rent and other fixed operational costs. Donations to the fund can be made at BerkshireTaconic.org/BusinessContinuity. The fund will accept applications from April 1 to April 15 at www.columbiaedc.com. An independent, volunteer committee of local business leaders will review and award grants based on the availability of funds. Read more…

County health dept. pursues new rapid-result tests

HUDSON—The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the emergency use of a rapid coronavirus test that can deliver results in as little as 15 minutes.

Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb said in a Monday, March 30, 2020 that the test may be “rolled out” as early as Wednesday, April 1.

“I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I am going to aggressively pursue getting the tests. If the kits become available to the county in large quantities, I would hope to be able to do large scale testing in the county to help us better understand the disease,” he said. Read more…