KINGSTON, NY — Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan declared a state of emergency on Sunday in response to rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and the rise of the Omicron variant, a press release from his office announced.
The order, which will be in effect for at least 30 days, will allow the county to more quickly obtain needed testing supplies for local schools, businesses and families; strengthen available public health and medical personnel across the province; and, if necessary, to redeploy the workforce to support testing, contact tracing and vaccination efforts, according to the release.
“As COVID cases and hospitalizations increase, and the emergence of a new and potentially more dangerous variant, we need to step up our efforts to ensure the health and safety of all our residents,” Ryan said in the press release. “Informed by real-time data and the advice of our team of public health experts, this emergency order is an important step in enabling the province to respond quickly and effectively to fight the virus.
“We must do everything we can, individually and collectively, to avoid another difficult and deadly winter. I encourage all residents to get vaccinated, get your booster and to keep social distancing and wear masks when indoors around others.
In the month since Halloween, the number of active COVID-19 cases has tripled in Ulster County, bringing the tally to its highest level since April, the release said. On Friday, November 26, the province reported 944 active cases of COVID-19, up 48 from the previous day. The peak number of active cases was 2,622 on January 30. The province also reported a positivity rate of 3.8%.
Since the start of the local pandemic in the spring of 2020, Ulster County has reported 20,810 confirmed cases, with 19,571 recoveries and 295 deaths.
Ryan had also declared a state of emergency on March 12, 2020 due to the pandemic.
Ryan continued to urge residents to get vaccinated if they haven’t already, and to get their booster shot if they got their last dose more than six months ago.
“With the rise of the Omicron variant, getting vaccinated and getting your booster is even more urgent,” he said. “Vaccinations remain our most effective means of stopping the virus and saving lives.”
On Friday, the county reported that 67.75% of residents had been fully vaccinated, with 75.7% receiving at least one dose of a two-dose regimen. It also reported that 80.2% of adults ages 18 and older had received at least one dose.
Ulster County residents can make arrangements to receive the vaccine at vaccinateulster.com. Dutchess County residents can make appointments at bit.ly/dut-vax.
Ullster County will continue to hold regular vaccination PODs for residents who need to receive their first dose, second dose or booster dose, the release said. Appointments are recommended for the county’s vaccination PODs; although walk-ins will be accommodated if capacity permits.
Ryan reiterated the ongoing need for residents to volunteer for staff and support the county’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts. The provincial Ministry of Health still accepts volunteers, especially medical volunteers, as vaccinators and screeners. Vaccinations require both an active license and a current CPR certificate, or can be basic and advanced EMTs with the current CPR certificate. Screeners create the vaccination booklet for each patient, so must be computer literate, pay attention to detail and have good customer service and communication skills. Both medical volunteers will receive a stipend. Volunteer at https://covid19.ulstercountyny.gov/vaccine-volunteer/.