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Molinaro answers queries, deals with personal loss

“I already miss my father but confidently know of his love for my sisters, their mom, my brother and me.” — Marc Molinaro, Dutchess County executive

DUTCHESS COUNTY — In keeping an open line of communication with county residents throughout the coronavirus health crisis, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro took the time to assess residents’ concerns and answer their questions during his recent Facebook Live Town Hall on Wednesday, April 8.

Since Molinaro’s last virtual Town Hall on Thursday, April 2, Dutchess County has been seen tragedy as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to claim more lives. Prior to his live Facebook Town Hall in the afternoon, Molinaro’s office announced on Wednesday that New York state had suffered its highest single-day death toll with nearly 800 deaths, totaling 6,268 across the state and, as of Tuesday, April 14, 13 in Dutchess County. Since then, the state has had more “worst days.”

In honor of the lives lost to the pandemic, flags at Dutchess County government buildings were lowered to half-staff and will remain at that position until further notice. Governor Andrew Cuomo made a similar announcement last week that the state will also lower all flags to half-staff in honor of lives lost.

The Facebook Live Town Hall was live streamed on the “Dutchess County Government” Facebook page. As Molinaro gave a recap of the county’s current resources and latest endeavors, the page’s comments section was teeming with questions from viewers. Among the queries made, viewers raised their concerns about having the country close local golf courses; the recent price gouging for PPE at retail businesses; access to rapid testing in Dutchess County; whether county hospitals are treating COVID-19 patients; how to properly dispose of PPE; and whether it’s safe for county buses to be running at this time.

Urging residents to stay home, limit their visits to essential businesses and maintain social distancing, Molinaro said, “We have to hunker down these next couple weeks in order to slow the rate of transmission and save lives.”

Replying to one viewer’s question about whether Dutchess County schools will re-open in May, Molinaro said, “I think at this point it really depends on when we hit that peak… based on what we know on this state and what Governor Cuomo has appropriately acknowledged, it’s going to take weeks and months to return to a less restrictive environment… but I would be very surprised to have schools to return in early May.”

Answering another viewer’s concern about non-essential businesses that are continuing to work at this time, Molinaro said, “Well, stop it. [If] you’re not an essential business that’s been identified by the state of New York, not an essential business that’s been identified by the Empire State Development Corporation, you should be closed. And honestly, if you’re taking advantage of your employees, you should be ashamed.

“At the end of the day, we are all engaged in a very selfless effort to try to save lives,” he continued before adding that businesses can seek a waiver to be considered essential by the state.

Regarding questions about getting a note to return to work after testing negative for COVID-19, Molinaro said residents should ask their doctor for a note acknowledging that they tested negative. As far as whether there’s a curfew in Dutchess County, he said that while there’s not a set curfew in place, the idea is to stay at home to prevent the spread of illnesses.

Posting a query in the comments section, Stacey Jacobs-Coleman asked why it’s taking so long to get test results for “likely infected staff at essential business,” to which Molinaro replied that there’s currently a massive demand on the labs that are processing the COVID-19 tests, and that while some are moving quickly, other labs are overwhelmed.

Meanwhile, viewer Alice Brooks asked how to get help for senior citizens during the pandemic, to which Molinaro referred her to the online portal Dutchess Responds.

Looking ahead, Molinaro said, “We can see the peak, but we’re not there yet.”

And sadly, the pandemic hit close to home last week with the passing of Molinaro’s father, Anthony Molinaro, due to COVID-19, at a Westchester hospital. The county exec announced his loss on social media on Friday.

“Anthony Molinaro quietly left us this afternoon. I already miss my father but confidently know of his love for my sisters, their mom, my brother and me. And, we are grateful for the moments and memories we shared.”

Conservative Party Chairman Gerard Kassar spoke of the tragedy on behalf of the officers and members of the New York State Conservative Party and wished his best to Molinaro, who was the Republican Party’s candidate to run against Cuomo in the last gubernatorial race.

“[We] offer our sincere condolences to our friend and former candidate for governor, Marc Molinaro, on the passing of his beloved father, Anthony Molinaro, from the coronavirus savaging so many families throughout the world.

“Our deepest sympathy and prayers to Marc, his family and all the families who have lost loved ones,” added Kassar. “We hope they will be comforted by their faith and knowledge that the love they provided will live forever in our memories.”

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