County Executive’s Corner: “Phase 3”

By County Executive Ed Day

Safety First, People Always. This is the motto that has guided our actions since the first days of the pandemic. It is what has carried us back from the darkest days of March and April when hundreds of people were testing positive and our hospital beds were filled with those ill from this terrible disease.

But this Safety First, People Always motto; this is how we all must continue to approach this situation because while we are moving in the right direction COVID-19 is still out there.

Within your County government we have implemented change on a massive scale. We have moved desks, installed barriers, posted more signage than I have ever seen and overall, adapted at a speed previously unknown in government.

These physical changes are just a few of the adaptations we have made to continue providing services to residents safely during the pandemic. I want to take a quick moment to thank those employees who have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic.

Each of our Departments has made incredible contributions these last few months. Listing them all would have us here all day but rest assured; we have noticed, and we appreciate all the work you have done.

As of Tuesday, June 23rd, we have entered Phase 3 of the NY Forward Reopening Plan. And with Phase 3 comes many changes.

• Restaurants can resume indoor seating, at up to 50% of their capacity and with social distancing measures in place.

• Spas, nail salons and massage parlors can reopen with safety precautions in place.

• You can even once again get a tattoo or a piercing. Though I won’t personally be partaking in these activities.

And Phase 3 brings changes for local governments as well. On March 16th Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order which limited local governments in New York to operating with 50% of personnel on site. This was designed to increase social distancing and while it was effective – it was also difficult.

Practically overnight we developed and implemented plans so that many of our employees would be able to work from home and continue providing resident with critical services. We have now welcomed many of those employees who had been working from home back into their offices.

Each of our County Departments has developed a plan to protect the health and safety of their team members and of any residents that utilize our in-person services. Along with an overall plan to protect anyone entering one of our buildings. These plans are based on guidance from the CDC and New York State and Rockland County Departments of Health. You can check out what we’ve put in place by visiting: https://rocklandgov.com/rockland-forward/

Bottom line, we are doing everything we can to ensure the health and safety of our employees. The same expectations that have been placed on other industries we are following as well. Because that’s what our Safety First, People Always motto calls for.

What we have experienced these past few months was both unexpected and unprecedented. We have suffered illness – we have suffered loss – we have suffered worry and anxiety at a level many of us had never previously known.

We have come so far, these past few months. We have experienced illness, loss and anxiety at a level many of us had never previously known. But we are making progress and we will continue to do so.

The precautions put in place within your County Government and at other businesses and industries which are reopening are designed to keep you safe.

But we each have a role to play. We must continue to follow the good habits of social distancing, wearing a face covering if you are near others and cannot maintain the proper distance, and above all using hand sanitizer and washing your hands with soap and water.

These basic steps are what will allow us to continue reopening with that Safety First, People Always motto. Rockland County has been and remains “open for business,” the business of serving our community.