by Ed Day, Rockland County Executive
Rockland County is in the midst of an expected and seasonally predictable increase in active COIVD-19 cases. I say this not to alarm you but to inform you about the trajectory we are seeing locally and to remind you that this has been our experience whenever people gather regularly indoors. Though Rockland is currently faring better than anywhere else in New York with our 7-day average for percentage of positive tests standing at 2.9%.
While we are seeing an uptick is cases we are thankfully not seeing as much of an uptick in hospitalizations. Based on the current 7-day averages from Good Samaritan and Nyack Hospitals, 16.57% of hospital beds are available and 39.96% of ICU Beds are available. These numbers translate to plenty of availability to handle both emergencies and regularly scheduled procedures. We have also been notified by New York State that they have contacted hospitals around the state, including ours, to offer staffing support should it become necessary.
There are 35 people currently hospitalized who are positive for COVID-19: 22 are unvaccinated, 11 are vaccinated and 2 are of unknown status. These vaccines continue to prove helpful at preventing hospitalizations as nearly two-thirds of those hospitalized locally are unvaccinated.
I also want to remind you all that I recently chose to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster because I believe these vaccines, when partnered with commonsense hygiene precautions offer the best protection available from this disease. If you have questions or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines, please talk to your doctor about their safety and effectiveness.
“We are not looking to issue any mandates or orders because I believe that talking through these issues with all of you and gaining your trust and understanding is far more effective. Where Rockland goes from here depends entirely on the actions that Rocklanders take in the coming days and weeks.”
–County Executive Ed Day
Those interested in receiving a vaccination or booster at one of our Department of Health’s upcoming clinics taking place at multiple locations around Rockland can visit our COVID-19 webpage to make an appointment.
Rockland residents have done an incredible job getting vaccinated. According to the CDC, 73.5% of our 5+ population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine along with 85.6% of our 18+ population and even better, 95% of our 65+ population.
But vaccinations alone are not enough to protect us from COVID-19. Australian virologist Dr. Ian Mackay created a “Swiss Cheese Respiratory Virus Pandemic Defense” graphic to assist with explaining how this works. Each slice of cheese represents a layer of protection that helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases. And while every slice of cheese has holes, the more slices we use, the stronger our protection against disease.
The Rockland County Department of Health urges everyone to follow the CDC’s recommended public health prevention measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19:
- Wear a mask that fully covers your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin when indoors.
- Stay 6 feet away from others not within your household.
- Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. If the weather permits and it’s not too cold, open the windows and door for more ventilation.
- Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze by using your elbow or a tissue.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Stay home if you are sick.
According to New York State contact tracing efforts, nearly three-quarters of known COVID-19 transmission is occurring during gatherings at home with family and friends. Please keep the above recommendations in mind when you are spending time with your family and friends this winter.
We have also updated our own internal COVID policies, taking proactive steps to help keep our employees healthy and comfortable while working through this winter and holiday season. These policy updates affect all indoor areas of County properties except for those which under CDC guidance, or other Federal or State authority require different, more restrictive standards, related to the Department’s particular line of work.
The updated Executive Order is attached and has also been posted on RocklandGov.com. As a governmental agency we must follow the New York State Commissioner of Health’s Determination on Indoor Masking. Effective immediately the following standards will apply to all indoor areas of County properties:
- Vaccinated employees, on-site contractors and visitors who have shown proof of vaccination are not required to wear a face covering.
- Unvaccinated employees, on-site contractors and visitors who have not shown proof of vaccination are required to wear a face covering.
While we do not have the capability of enforcing these NYS rules all across Rockland, we do have the responsibility of making this update within County properties. Additionally, the only alternative to these changes would be to require everyone to wear a mask at all times while inside County properties. We are attempting to find the least intrusive path forward while still protecting everyone’s health and safety.
We continue to recommend that individuals, businesses, and venues do their best to comply with the NYS mandate. I also want to encourage everyone in our community, residents, businesses, and visitors to show compassion and kindness while we are subject to this State mandate in public places. We have all been through so much these past 20 months and creating additional conflict with business owners, their employees, or other residents will not improve the situation.
Additionally, as many of us prepare to gather with family and friends to celebrate holidays and the start of the new year, we want to share these ideas for you to consider:
- Local businesses may want to reinitiate their remote work policies for industries where this is possible.
- Those planning to visit with family and friends outside their household may want to get tested before any gathering or event.
We are not looking to issue any mandates or orders because I believe that talking through these issues with all of you and gaining your trust and understanding is far more effective. Where Rockland goes from here depends entirely on the actions that Rocklanders take in the coming days and weeks.
Visit the Rockland County Health Department’s webpage to make an appointment to receive the COVID vaccine or booster: https://rocklandgov.com/departments/health/coronavirus-covid-19/