COVID-19 update: Governor shuts down more of the workforce, county executive asks for containment zone

Goshen. All barbershops, hair salons, tattoo or piercing salons, nail salons, and other personal care services will be closed to the public. New Yorkers are also required to protect vulnerable people by screening all of their visitors by taking their temperature, wearing a mask in the company of others, staying at least 6 feet from others, and not taking public transportation unless absolutely necessary. The Orange County executive said he asked the governor for a containment zone around Kiryas Joel. The town of Chester offers a drop box for payments.

20 Mar 2020 | 08:38

Friday, March 20

100 percent of nonessential workforce to stay home

A greater chunk of the workforce in New York State must stay home beginning Sunday, March 22, at 8 p.m., under further notice.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Friday that he will sign an executive order mandating that all workers except for those providing essential services must stay indoors to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. The order is called New York State on PAUSE (Policies Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone).

All barbershops, hair salons, tattoo or piercing salons, nail salons, hair removal services and related personal care services will be closed to the public.

All non-essential gatherings of any size, for any reason, are temporarily banned. New Yorkers may go outside for solitary exercise.

In a previous order, the governor closed casinos, gyms, theaters, retail shopping malls, amusement parks, and bowling alleys. Bars and restaurants are closed, but takeout can be ordered during the period of closure.

The governor is enacting Matilda’s Law to protect New Yorkers age 70 and up and those with compromised immune systems: New Yorkers are required to screen all visitors by taking their temperature, wear a mask in the company of others, stay at least 6 feet from others, and not take public transportation unless absolutely necessary.

New York will implement a 90-day moratorium on evictions for residential and commercial tenants.

Essential services exempt from PAUSE are:

1. Health care (hospitals, nursing homes, emergency veterinary care, emergency dental care)

2. Infrastructure (utilities, fuel supply, telecommunications, transportation)

3. Manufacturing (foods and beverages, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, household paper products)

4. Retail (food and beverage stores, pharmacies, farmer's markets, gas stations, restaurants and bars take-out/delivery, hardware and building material stores)

5. Services (trash and recycling collection, mail and shipping services, laundromats, building cleaning and maintenance, child care services, auto repair, warehouse/distribution and fulfillment, funeral homes, crematoriums and cemeteries, storage for essential businesses, animal shelters)

6. News media

7. Financial institutions (banks, insurance, payroll, accounting, services related to financial markets)

8. Basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations (homeless shelters, food banks)

9. Construction (electricians, plumbers, emergency repair)

10. Defense (national security-related operations)

11. Safety and sanitation (law enforcement, fire prevention and response, building code enforcement, security, emergency management and response, disinfection)

12. Vendors (technology support, child care and services)

County executive requests KJ containment zone

In a Facebook Live session on Thursday evening, Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus said he has asked the governor "to consider creating a containment zone in the town of Palm Tree, KJ area, which will facilitate extra resources, including a testing area there to try to put a lid on the spread of this virus."

Neuhaus said he came to this decision after listening to a doctor who "treats that community."

The doctor, Vladimir Zelenko, M.D., of Monroe, said in a You Tube video on March 18 that nine out of 14 Kiryas Joel residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and that he expects up to 90 percent to be infected with the virus within a few days.

"That's around 35,000 people in a one square mile area," he said. Of that number, he said, 1,000 are "seriously vulnerable to that virus."

That is an extraordinary claim. As of Friday, there were 19,101 confirmed cases in all of the United States, about half the number Dr. Zelenko predicts for KJ.

Neuhaus said local hospitals are worried about a spike of coronavirus emergencies in one area.

"That's why it's critical that the government creates a containment area, so that we can try to stop the spread of that," he said.

There are now 7,102 cases of coronavirus confirmed in New York State, with 84 in Orange County. It was only eight days ago that New York was reporting 217 cases and Orange County one case. Part of this surge can be explained by more testing. Testing is free for all eligible New Yorkers as ordered by a health care provider.

The director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, said on Friday that up to 70,000 cases of coronavirus could be confirmed in the United States by the end of next week.

Numbers to call: Neuhaus said 10 supermarkets are 12 to 24 hours behind in stocking their shelves. Anyone who needs food or prescriptions should call the county help line at 800-832-1200.

Businesses that are forced to close or limit their services can call the state at 845-802-9150 or the county at 845-360-0231 for help, he said.

On Facebook Live with Neuhaus were Irina Gelman, the county health commissioner, and Brendan Casey, the county commissioner of emergency services.

Casey said an additional county help line -- 800-832-1200 -- is a catch-all for food and housing needs.

Casey said that not all bars and restaurants are following closure orders, and that some people are seated inside eating.

"Please don't put the police in difficult position," he said.

By Frances Ruth Harris

Town of Chester offers drop box

Linda Zappala, the town of Chester clerk, said residents can use a drop box located in the lobby of town hall during normal business hours to drop off tax payments, water payments, dog licenses, traffic fine,s or correspondence.

Do not place cash in the drop box. Only checks or money orders will accepted, Zappala said.

Anyone who needs assistance may call contact Zappala at 845-469-7000 ext. 4 or lzappala@thetownofchester.org. In emergencies, call 911.

The office is staffed to handle essential government business. Zappala said messages and email will be replied to as soon as possible.

"Thank you for your understanding," Zappala said in her notice. "Stay healthy and remember social distancing is best at this time."

Tax day delayed

Also on Friday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tax Day is being moved from April 15 to July 15. "All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties," he said in a tweet.

Tristate tallies:
Here follows the number of positive cases in the tristate area and beyond as of March 20:
New York State: 7,102
Orange County, N.Y: 84
Sullivan County, N.Y. 8
Pennsylvania: 268
Pike County, Pa.: 2
Wayne County, Pa.: 1
Monroe County, Pa.: 19
New Jersey: 890
USA: 19,101