Congressman Sean Maloney held a telephone town hall last Wednesday night with Dr. Evan Cohen, Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Montefiore St Luke’s Cornwall Hospital. The town hall discussed the novel coronavirus [COVID-19] outbreak and constituent concerns.
New York State currently has more than 15,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The state has been officially marked as a federal disaster area. President Donald Trump made the federal disaster declaration last Friday.
Although Orange County has less cases than some areas in the state, COVID-19 is still a major issue. The county itself recently declared a state of emergency.
There are over 200 cases of COVID-19 in Orange County. The first COVID-19 patient in Orange County was confirmed at Montefiore St Luke’s Cornwall Hospital.
On March 17, the Newburgh Enlarged City School District announced that a person regularly at NFA North tested positive for COVID-19. Last Friday, the district announced that a person regularly at Heritage Middle School also tested positive for COVID-19
“Very few of those people have required any significant medical attention or hospitalization,” said Maloney. “We still have pretty good hospital capacity in our part of the Hudson Valley.” He said that medical issues like hospital capacity and testing kits are of major concern to him.
Maloney said that Orange County had done 200 tests as of last Wednesday. Testing is increasing and will continue to be available. He emphasized social distancing is important to halt the spread of COVID-19.
Cohen went over what Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall is doing to address COVID-19. “Keeping our patients and the public safe is really our utmost priority,” said Cohen.
The hospital now has a single point of entry. Cohen said most hospitals are doing similar measures. Once one enters the hospital, they will be screened for signs or symptoms of COVID-19.
Cohen said symptoms and signs of COVID-19 are very similar to the common cold or flu-like symptoms. Common symptoms include a runny nose, sore throat, coughing, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. He said the cough can be a dry cough or a productive cough.
The hospital will no longer have visitors unless it’s for special circumstances. Special circumstances include pediatric patients, and laboring mothers, or members of the population who’ve been labeled as at-risk.
Elective surgeries are now postponed and being reviewed on a case by case basis. Cohen said the hospital is following CDC [Center for Disease Control] and DOH [Department of Health] guidelines.
Cohen said clinically and in the emergency department, most people are staying home and the hospital is not being overrun with patients. He also said that most COVID-19 patients are minimally ill or recovering.
Maloney addressed concerns over the economic impact of COVID-19.
“Help is on the way,” said Maloney.
New legislation has been passed to offer tax relief to businesses and citizens. All tax payments have been postponed for at least 90 days. There has also been other legislation passed to lessen economic hardship. There is a moratorium in New York State on shutoffs of utilities during the current crisis. Maloney said more legislation will come like direct payments to families in needs.
“There will be enormous and comprehensive relief coming from Washington,” said Maloney.
Maloney also held a telephone town hall last Friday afternoon to help navigate casework related to Medicare, small business administration loans, unemployment insurance, and more.
“My office is open and ready to help Hudson Valley families, small businesses and individuals who need assistance during this pandemic. I encourage anyone who needs help to reach out through my website or call my office for my information,” said Maloney. “We’re here to serve you.”
For more information, one can go to seanmaloney.house.gov or one can call his office at (845) 561-1259.
Those looking for more information on COVID-19 can call the state’s hotline at 1-888-364-3065.