Numbers still high; vaccines daunting

JOHNSTOWN — The Fulton County Board of Supervisors on Monday heard a COVID-19 update, and passed several resolutions related to the pandemic.

“Our COVID numbers have stayed up,” county Administrative Officer Jon Stead told the board. “We have one of the higher positivity rates in the state on a rolling average.”

Stead expressed a hope that Fulton County’s COVID-19 numbers go down in the next week or so.

Meanwhile, he said the distribution of COVID vaccines in the county remains a daunting task, and the county has been receiving less doses. He said the county Public Health Department last week received 200 doses, and some recipients last week on two different days received their second COVID vaccinations.

Stead said New York state has earmarked dosage administration for “specific groups” and is sticking to its plan.

“More doses need to go to senior citizens,” he said.

He said Fulton County’s doses the last three weeks — as directed by the state — are going to “citizens other than senior citizens.” Stead said the state is setting aside doses to pharmacies, and Walgreen’s is now a vaccination site in the “region.”

But he said the concentration of these early doses the county is receiving are mainly meant for first responders, essential workers and teachers. He said that Fulton County in the past week receive half as many doses as it had been receiving.

Gloversville 6th Ward Supervisor Warren Greene asked about the opening up of the vaccination distribution to people with “compromised” medical histories.

Stead acknowledged that Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the weekend announced the COVID vaccine is going to others, but there is some concerns about people faking illnesses or conditions just to get the vaccine. Stead read off a long list of people who might now be able to access the vaccines, including those with: Cancer, pulmonary diseases, asthma, weakened immune systems, obesity, pregnant, diabetes, liver disease and dementia.

In regular action, the board chairman was authorized to sign an agreement between the county Health Department and the state Department of Health for a $258,681 Public Health ELC COVID-19 Contact Tracing and Investigation Grant.

County Public Health Director Laurel Headwell requested utilization of funding for: A Children’s Service Program specialist; overtime costs associated with investigation and contact tracing related to COVID; personal protection equipment; printing supplies; phone headsets; travel expenses; and computer equipment.

The board authorized the use of $19,300 in New York State Health Research Inc. COVID-19 funding for certain expenses in the county health department. Those expenses include overtime, purchase of PPE, assistance supplies for isolated and quarantined persons, and printing supplies.

Supervisors authorized acceptance of $23,840 in AHI North Country DSRIP Program funds to pay for performance payments in the health department.

Another resolution approved Monday authorizes a $17,000 contract with Catholic Charities in Albany to obtain COVID Emergency Solutions Grant funds to address homelessness arising from COVID-19. It is for housing such individuals during the pandemic.

By Patricia Older