Warren County, NY, Down to Zero New COVID-19 Cases

Today, June 7, 2021, there were zero new COVID-19 cases in Warren County, New York.

The Upside interviewed Don Lehman, Director of Public Affairs for Warren County, to learn more.

“Our active daily case numbers have been trending downward about 40% to 50% per day each of the past two months, a number that has corresponded with increases in vaccine rates based on more people becoming eligible,” reports Don.

“Comparatively, we were seeing days of 65 or so new cases per day in January, and a high of 494 active cases on January 14, 2021. Because we have the luxury of having people spaced out, we didn’t see the large clusters of cases that occurred in more urban areas. Warren County has regularly been in the top 5 counties in vaccination metrics since February, and as of this week has the third-highest per capita rate of fully vaccinated residents of counties in New York.”

Read on for his answers to our questions.

What has Warren County, NY, done to keep the cases low?

Warren County Health Services worked closely with partner agencies, such as nursing homes, Glens Falls Hospital, Hudson Headwaters Health Network, and school districts, among others, to work hand-in-hand as the pandemic progressed through phases. And it really was a series of phases, from the early days last spring, to a lull last summer, to small increases as schools reopened to the higher volume of cases during winter.

How does Warren County communicate with residents?

Warren County had been in the process of hiring a communications person before the pandemic began, but with the pandemic looming, Warren County Administrator Ryan Moore and the Board of Supervisors accelerated that process. The county’s social media presence was drastically increased, and our Warren County Planning & Community Development folks have overseen our Warren County COVID Hub website that has been a tremendous tool to keep the public informed.

What this has been like for the folks working at the county level?

It has been a lot of work for a lot of people. Our Warren County Public Health folks had many 18-20 hours days when case numbers were highest, and the pandemic did not stop on the weekends or holidays. Health Services Director Ginelle Jones and Deputy Director Patricia Belden when months between days off.

While the work has been hard, it has been gratifying to see that the public has appreciated the efforts. The outpourings of support for Public Health over the past 15 months, from “thank you” cards to flowers and posters from school children, cases of Girl Scout cookies and ice cream sandwiches, have made everyone feel that it was understood that a tremendous amount of work was being done to try to keep our residents safe and healthy.

Let’s name those who deserve recognition for this accomplishment.

There are too many to list, but it starts at the top with Ginelle Jones, Pat Belden, and Warren County Administrator Ryan Moore. (This writer on the EDC’s behalf will also name Don Lehman himself, though he was too modest to take credit.) The two Board of Supervisors chairpersons were integral to the response; Frank Thomas in 2020 and Rachel Seeber in 2021. They set the tone that Warren County was going to do everything possible to stay on top of COVID-19, no matter what it took. That included setting up an internal task force of department heads and county employees who met regularly to oversee PPE acquisitions, setting up a testing site, and working with towns and the city of Glens Falls to get PPE to residents.

Public Health established a policy where anyone who tested positive heard from a contact tracer the same day, to ensure contact tracing could be done as quickly as possible. That also included communicating with residents and the business community as to constantly changing state guidelines, dealing with complaints about behavior. And when vaccination programs began, Warren County Health Services was the first in the region to start county-run vaccination clinics, and then worked closely with neighboring Washington County and New York State to get a state mass vaccination site at Aviation Mall in Queensbury.

Don, what would you say makes Warren County THE place to live, work, play and invest?

I have lived in a number of places around the Northeast, and settled here because of the sense of community that was key to our county responding to an emergency situation such as this. Our towns and city are small enough where we know our neighbors and come to care about them, yet we are also close enough to population centers for employment and cultural offerings while also having endless recreational opportunities. We really are blessed to call this county home.

Can you tell us how you feel about EDC Warren County, lastly?

I have always been impressed with how well EDC Warren County has worked with the agencies and municipalities around it, from the Ed Bartholomew administration and Ed’s connections throughout New York State to the current EDC CEO Jim Siplon’s business sector experience and new visions for broadband access and working to attract businesses and residents to relocate to our county!