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Virus tests needed, emergency funds established

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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.

Two new emergency funds designed to rapidly deploy resources to community-based organizations and small businesses have been established, Chairman Murell said in the release.

The Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and the Columbia Economic Development Corporation (CEDC), in partnership with the Columbia County 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 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 ranging 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

www.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.

Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation (BTCF) has launched the Columbia County COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. It will provide flexible resources to nonprofit organizations to help 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 may be made at www.BerkshireTaconic.org/ColumbiaCOVID19. BTCF staff and volunteer members of BTCF’s Fund for Columbia County committee will review and award grants.

“I want to thank CEDC and its partners for moving so quickly to establish a grant program for small businesses in Columbia County. It is essential that we find ways to provide a lifeline to our business community during this very difficult time so that they can reopen once it is safe to do so,” Germantown Town Supervisor and Chairman of the County Columbia Economic Development Corporation committee Robert Beaury said in the release.

“The Board of Supervisors is working around the clock to address our public health and preserve our businesses throughout the county. The Columbia County Business Continuity Fund represents our community stepping up and providing additional resources to help our small businesses during this challenging time,” Mr. Murell said.

He continues to urge anyone migrating from outside Columbia County to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival.

The state’s coronavirus website, with up-to-the-minute information, can be found at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/home.

Anyone who wants to donate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as N95 masks, face shields, and gowns, should contact the Emergency Management Office at 518-828-1212. If no one answers, leave a message and someone will return the call.

Nitrile gloves are considered suitable for medical use, while other types of gloves must explicitly state they are for medical use. Food donations should be directed to the county Office for the Aging (518-828-4258) and local pantries.

For the most up-to-date, accurate information, visit the county Department of Health’s website at https://www.columbiacountynyhealth.com/home/coronavirus-covid-19.

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