State promises COVID help to Jefferson County

Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 5:31 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A day after Jefferson County said it was having a tough time getting help from Albany, the state will soon put a COVID testing site in the county.

On Wednesday, Jefferson County Legislature Chairman Scott Gray said, “The state has been pretty much unresponsive at this point.”

After his remarks aired on our 6 p.m. news, Gray had the conversation he’s long been waiting for with the governor’s office. The county could get as many as 3 new testing sites.

“We’ve just been imploring upon the governor that we need assistance here,” said Gray.

He says the calls for help to the governor’s office have mostly gone unanswered. Gray says he’s been asking for the state-run testing site to return since October.

Samaritan Keep Home was denied extra help during a deadly COVID outbreak in October, too.

Gray told us on Wednesday the lack of communication from the state has been frustrating. Gray says he finally got a call Wednesday night from the governor’s office, expressing willingness to help the county.

“To my knowledge, they’ve committed to reconstituting the free testing,” said Gray.

Gray says he’s expecting the test site to start up early next week, hosted by Samaritan Medical Center, and there could be a couple more sites at Carthage Area Hospital and River Hospital if all goes well.

Gray says the state testing will provide relief for the healthcare community.

“It takes the pressure off the urgent cares, takes people out of the emergency room and puts them back in the urgent cares,” said Gray.

Gray says Governor Hochul’s style of managing the pandemic has been the opposite of former Governor Cuomo’s, who he says governed with too much authority over counties. Gray says Hochul hasn’t provided enough support and believes she needs to be somewhere in the middle.

The governor addressed that criticism in Thursday’s press conference.

“And ignoring local public health departments is not a strategy that I’m going to be engaging in. That was a big difference,” said Hochul.

This all comes as someone in Minnesota tested positive for the omicron variant, but that person recently traveled to New York City. The governor said Thursday that no omicron cases have been identified in the state, but the variant is likely here.

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