How Solid is Your Safety Plan?

How Solid is Your Plan?

A year ago, it would be incomprehensible to imagine a time where local family-friendly traditions like attending a holiday concert or a crowded community tree lighting could pose a public health threat to us, but as challenging as it is to accept that we still need to operate under pandemic rules, alternatives are out there. From drive-by holiday light displays to virtual viewings of The New Paltz Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker, local government needs to keep communities informed to maintain morale and stay virtually connected. As the holiday season continues with Hanukkah celebrations in full swing and Christmas just around the corner, more opportunities to get together and a boost to interstate travel, unfortunately, mean more risk to contract Covid-19. Right now, Covid-19 community spread persists as a growing problem within Hudson Valley neighborhoods, and many local leaders are contracting the virus themselves, while others are leaving their positions entirely. An alarming new investigation from The Associated Press finds one in 8 Americans — 40 million people — lives in a community that has lost its local public health department leader during the pandemic. Top public health officials in 20 states have left state-level departments, including in New York, which has lost three state health officers since May, one after another. The study found many of the state and local officials left due to political blowback or pandemic pressure. Some departed to take higher-profile positions or due to health concerns. Others were fired for poor performance. Dozens retired. As community members struggle to know how to handle the pandemic this winter, a shrinking local government needs to remain diligent and revisit safety plans.

Practice what you preach.

Local government officials should be mindful of their actions and the actions of their team members. It’s important to lead by example and ensure that your team is following the rules you’re enforcing. California Governor Gavin Newsom recently came under fire after being photographed at large formal dinners and gatherings, mask-less and ditching the same social distancing protocols that he is enforcing statewide. Regardless of your status as a public figure, your team must practice the same consideration as you instruct your constituents to follow. Check in with team members regularly to make sure everyone is aware of the latest regulations and safety recommendations.

Stay social, while social distancing.

Some local leaders are using the power of social media to get their message out and create an open dialogue with the families they serve. Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus is teaming up with The Patrick M. D’Aliso Foundation to raise awareness about suicide prevention and mental health every Monday and Thursday. As part of a new awareness and outreach initiative, “Orange Cares,” asks residents to write letters of appreciation to Orange County’s doctors, nurses, first responders, medical administrative staff, and those in nursing homes or hospitals during this holiday season. Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan took to Facebook to share vaccination updates in his Thursday briefing, detailing that the county health department and CVS pharmacies would be in charge of distributing vaccines to the county’s nursing homes. Communication and consistent community outreach are key while we are all staying safe, apart. While your team may be operating remotely, don’t neglect to update your website or social media sites to keep community members informed.

Quarantine fatigue is a real issue that’s driving people out of their homes and into unsafe social settings.

After months of fluctuating levels of lockdown, some are letting their guard down, not adhering to social distancing measures or diligent mask-wearing, leading to heightened infection rates and spikes in new positive cases within the Hudson Valley. Orange, Dutchess, Ulster, and Putnam county leaders held a joint Zoom press conference in late November, focusing on managing risk and revamping safety measures – an accessible plan that could be extremely effective if it was coordinated regularly. As positivity rates and hospitalization rates continue to increase, New York is recalibrating protocols with a new Winter Plan based on the most recent public health data. Click here to stay up to date with the new metrics for determining color zone designations. Whether it concerns accounting, out-sourcing or compliance issues, you can contact RBT’s dedicated team for help navigating this challenging time.