COVID-19 testing center set up in Village of Haverstraw

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By Keith Shikowitz

Town and village elected officials in Haverstraw have been doing everything humanly possible to ensure the safety of the residents. This includes their physical and mental well-being. One way they have accomplished part of this goal is by working with State Representatives Assemblyman Zebrowski and Senator Skoufis to have a testing center placed in the town of Haverstraw. Their efforts were successful and the center has been set up in tents in the parking lot of the Knights of Columbus in the Village of Haverstraw. Which is open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. weekdays only.
“The site is orchestrated by the state of New York. Hudson River Health care is the provider who’s giving the tests.” said Mayor Michael Kohut of the Village of Haverstraw.
At the town board meeting on April 27, Supervisor Phillips said that as soon as confirmation of the site was given the robo calls will go out to the public and on social media. “I want to thank everybody involved Our town board members, Village mayors Kohut and D’Amelio and everyone that participated on making this a reality.”
Phillips explained why the site was chosen. “The state came down and they were looking for a site that was accessible to everybody within walking distance. Now I think this apprehension is because nobody wants to have anything that can be contagious near them. We have taken tremendous precautions so the public will not be infected.”
One possible way to deal with residents’ apprehension is moving the tents back further in the parking lot Phyllis believes that’s what they were going to do. “But now again you have to play the chess game. If these people don’t get tested, all you’re going to do is spread the virus more and absolutely prolong the length of the virus in the community.”
When projects like this are set up, many times there are glitches and problems which occur in the early stages of them being implemented. That does not seem to be the situation here. According to Kohut it’s smooth. They have the operation down pat. “I’m not sure about the numbers. Last week was cold and rainy and everything. This week I’m not sure how that ramping up. At one point I heard it was slow and on another point I heard they were booked up for a couple of days.”
The fact that you need an appointment to go to the testing center has been the reason there’s never a line of people standing around waiting to be tested. Kohut added. “Just like if you went by the Anthony Wayne site you never saw a line of cars there because it’s by appointment.”
Unfortunately, Kohut does not know the numbers of people that have been tested at this site. “We provided the site that’s about it. Hudson River Healthcare is a private institution manning this and I don’t have any operational control or information on it.”
Certain areas of the Village of Haverstraw got hit kind of hard by the virus. Why did this happen? It was probably, more than more than likely due to the high density housing. Phillips things. “They found that when more people live in an apartment complex, where there are numerous common touch areas, such as door handles, rail handles, stairway rail handles, buttons to the elevator, and breathing the common air in apartment complexes these are the things that can happen.”
The other thing that really spiked the statistical data in the Village of Haverstraw is northern Riverview. It’s a very large nursing home and I believe they’ve had about 16 to 18 deaths for which they had to file death certificates and they had an outbreak there. Kohut verified those numbers. “I think that’s probably a fair estimate. I don’t have the exact numbers. There’s a fairly high level from what I understand. You know it’s a nursing home Every other nursing home it’s been hit hard.”
“If people don’t get tested, it’s going to spread further into the community and it’s going to prolong the length of this COVID-19 disease in a community.  Look at all these nursing homes they were forced to take people with COVID-19. We’re not blaming anybody but it’s a matter of fact.” Phillips said.
According to the UPI, on March 23rd prior to his March 25th order mandating nursing homes take in COVID-19 positive patients, Governor Cuomo was at the Javits Convention Center showing it as it was being transformed into a complex to treat COVID-19. The center added about 2,000 beds. Even knowing this was taking place, at his request, the governor still, irresponsibly and dangerously, ordered nursing homes take in these patients putting the lives of our most vulnerable at risk.
Kohut said, “I’m not going to say with that right or wrong because I’m not a health care professional. I’m not making excuses for him. It is what it is unfortunately.”
Logic and common sense would dictate that you don’t send patients who are infected with a contagious virus into an environment with your most vulnerable people. It just doesn’t make sense. Have there been any more patients brought in there infected? Have there been any more deaths from covid?
Unfortunately Kohut does not really know if there are any more covid infected patients or any more deaths at Northern River view since they’re a private institution. “We only know about it if a death certificate get is requested. I don’t know of anything else out of the ordinary up there.”
Administratively the goal the center said for themselves was to test 8 patients per hour per day. Phillips has said people have been calling and getting appointments, so he believes they’re doing pretty good down there.
Phillips praised and thanked Doctors Geller, the CEO from Nyack and Leahy, the CEO from good Samaritan, brought to our attention that they saw a spike in the numbers in their hospitals from Latino and Black communities. That was a little over 2 weeks ago. We immediately contacted the governor’s office. We contacted Ken Zebrowski’s office and James Skoufis is office. They really went to work on it. I really have to credit them. They were very instrumental in getting this site and getting it located in the Village of Haverstraw. Myself, Mayor Kohut, Town Councilmen, and others all worked very hard to get the site there.
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Throughout the country, governors in various states are taking different approaches to this pandemic. Some have put in place very strict lockdown regulations that people are saying are a violation of Americans First Amendment and Second Amendment rights. How has the Village of Haverstraw been dealing with the residents of the village? Any questions or concerns they’ve had.
Kohut stated proudly, “The people have been very compliant. As each of the governor’s orders came down for shutting this business or that or this and everything else. they’ve welcomed the governor’s orders in some ways to let them shut down and be safe. Restaurants have closed and reopened. Some have stayed closed or tried to stay open for a while and then closed. The other businesses, if they are allowed to be open, they are. If not, then we told them that they couldn’t be. As I said, the people have been very compliant. Very concerned for their own health. We did a facemask hand out on Saturday, May 2. We had several hundred people come by for masks. That was good that they’re looking to stay masked up. And you can see on the streets most of the residents of the downtown certainly because they’re in close proximity to one another even on the sidewalks, Most of the residents are masked up when they’re on the outside or going anyplace.”
As of May 4, Rockland County Department of Health figures show in the Village of Haverstraw that there are 566 cases of coronavirus.
Kohut attributes any numbers of cases to the fact at the village of Haverstraw’s a densely populated area with large families living in apartment buildings or whatever the case may be. It’s more apt that multiple people in the family will become contagious. Then we have Northern Riverview Nursing Home. Northern Riverview Assisted Living, Green Hills home for adults. These are places where a contagion can get multiple people at a time.”
In many parts of the country people have been feeling that their rights are being violated by certain governments and they have been out protesting against these violations of their rights. In the village of have a strong though, Mayor Kohut says, “If you’re talking about police issues and stuff, there have been no anti – government protests or anything like that in the village. Like I said everybody’s been very compliant. There are obviously issues which happened sometimes that there are too many people in the spot for whatever reason. The police are handling everything quite well.”
Many places have been reporting lower numbers of crimes Kohut feels that way about the village of Haverstraw. He does feel that there may be more domestic violence issues or things like that. He can’t give the numbers if they are but he’s sure that’s increased somewhat because of people living in close proximity for long durations of time. “They’re not going to be reporting it probably because they’re stuck with each other no matter what so, I feel there’s no sense in getting the cops involved.”
There are studies on domestic violence and child abuse that would support Kohut’s thinking that these incidents are increasing because of this because people are so cooped up and getting what we used to call cabin fever.
“Exactly. That’s why when we had the good weather over the weekend, people did everything they could to get out and about to relieve some pent up frustration.” Kohut said. He added, “What people are doing is they’re going up to empty parking lots pulling up next to each other and socializing that way. Locally you’ll find that people are just gathering the parking lots to hang out to socialize apart and yet together.
A spokesman for the New York State Emergency Response Team said, “New York is proud to partner with local leaders in Rockland county and Hudson River Healthcare for the walk-up coronavirus sample collection site in Haverstraw. Like similar walk-on facilities around the state, the site is specifically designed to serve members of the surrounding community who do not have access to a car.”