Monticello, NY – While Sullivan County currently continues to have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus), County Manager Joshua Potosek announced today that County government operations will be altered significantly for the time being.
“Considering the State’s ongoing efforts to contain coronavirus – which has now been confirmed in all the counties which surround Sullivan – it’s timely and prudent for Sullivan County government to protect both its employees and the public, without inconveniencing either more than necessary,” Potosek stated. “Thus I am declaring a State of Emergency in Sullivan County and initiating a series of measures to preserve service delivery and health & welfare.”
Minimal Staffing at Many Offices
Effective Monday, March 16, County government offices will be staffed as lightly as possible, some with only one employee, so as to minimize the chances of coronavirus exposure and transmission. Certain facilities, like the Care Center and DMV, will continue to be fully staffed in order to provide necessary services to the public. But even in those locations, restrictions will be in place (see below).
“I encourage citizens to call our offices to seek services whenever possible – and to only do so when absolutely necessary, considering the few staff who will be available to answer phones,” Potosek urged. “If it can wait a week or two, let it wait.”
The majority of County employees will continue to work during normal hours, however, as provisions have been made to give them access to their digital workspaces from home.
Care Center Closed to Visitors
Except for families of loved ones receiving end-of-life care, visitation to the Care Center at Sunset Lake in Liberty is suspended indefinitely. This is to protect the County’s most vulnerable residents from coronavirus, which can be lethal for older adults.
“My own wife is a resident of the Care Center, so this news was devastating to me,” District 6 Legislator Luis Alvarez remarked. “But I understand why it is being done, and like many other families, I am enduring this very painful sacrifice for the welfare of those we care for at the Center.”
DMV Serving Only Sullivan County Residents
Starting Monday, March 16, all MV-44 transactions at the Sullivan County Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office will be conducted for Sullivan County residents only, so as to limit the potential spread of coronavirus. This includes applications for and renewals of all driver’s licenses (Standard, Enhanced and Real ID), learner’s permits, non-driver’s license ID cards, conditional or restricted licenses, and reciprocity. (DMV’s previous camera breakdown has been repaired, so full services have been restored.)
In addition, the Sullivan County Clerk’s Office will process passports only for Sullivan County residents. The Clerk’s Office also strongly encourages e-recording of documents.
Congregant Meal Sites Closed
All County-served senior nutrition sites have been closed indefinitely in order to limit potential exposures to senior citizens, who are most at risk from coronavirus. Meals on Wheels deliveries will continue, however, and officials are working on further efforts to meet the nutritional needs of residents.
County Events Cancelled
The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office’s Victim Impact Panel scheduled for Tuesday, March 17 in the Government Center’s Hearing Room has been rescheduled for Tuesday, May 19 at 6:30 p.m.
The Sullivan County Career Center’s March Hiring Event on March 25 and the Monticello Library Hiring Event on April 4 have both been cancelled.
Emergency Operations Center Opened
At Potosek’s direction, the Sullivan County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has been opened in White Lake, and provisions are being made to fully staff it as the need arises.
“We have been and will continue to be working closely with our local towns and villages, their police departments and State health authorities to address any impacts of coronavirus as they come our way,” Potosek explained. “While I can’t assure that we won’t have any cases of the virus in our County, I CAN assure that we are taking the steps necessary to fulfill our obligation to protect and promote the health and welfare of all our citizens.”
Updates and further details, including how to protect yourself against coronavirus, can be found at www.sullivanny.us/departments/publichealth/coronavirus.