The year 2021 will be burnished in residents’ memories for a lot of reasons, the big one being the COVID crisis.
Legislator and presiding officer Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue) discussed the county’s plans to lasso an effective vaccine rollout, as well helping small businesses.
Mass county vaccination plan prepared, but needs federal rollout info
Calarco said the county already has a mass vaccination contingency plan in place. “What’s frustrating locally is that we are the people charged with doing this; we planned for it, but we need to understand from federal government, how many doses will be available and when can we expect them,” he said. “That unknown aspect as of now makes it hard to plan how many we can administer to. Then, also another plan to bring them back for a second dose at the right time.”
“Part of our disaster planning was setting up vaccination sites,” Calarco said. “We will be able to do that apart from Northwell Health and New York State. We are prepared to roll out the vaccine as soon as we can get more supplies."
Most of the doses that have come into the county were administered to the hospitals for their employees or via Jones Beach, he said.
“We have at least three large facilities targeted at this point, two that are ready at the flip of the switch. There’s Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood, where we are scheduling appointments based on the supply we have,” Calarco said. “There’s also a facility in Yaphank for our county personnel and first responders. There’s a separate allocation that has come to us for them; it’s by appointment and based on supply."
There’s a link and questionnaire to speed the scheduling process, he said.
The third is the Suffolk County Community College campus in Riverhead, off County Road 51, which went live last week, Calarco said. "Again, it’s all based on accountability.”
Go to Suffolkcountyny.gov/vaccine to find out if you are eligible.
Calarco said other sites would be available once supplies start flooding in.
“But we have to get equipment in place and determine how many personnel are needed,” he said, which will be determined by the federal government’s information on the amount of vaccines coming and when.
Who will do it?
“Some are our own health department employees, some from hospital networks and health centers,” said Calarco. “There’s a need for someone who’s certified to give shots. You also need to have a pharmacist on location, so we have plans to put that into motion.”
Calarco said there are already prearranged understandings with contacts the county has to conduct for these services.
Developing initiatives that help small businesses
Calarco wants to develop a strategy to help small business owners including small retailers. “We need to figure out how to help them,” Calarco said of county aid.
“There have been some small grants from the county through our Industrial Development Agency to help cover expenses; that agency is also helping them maneuver the federal systems."
"Then, once we return to some normalcy, how do we help businesses in downtowns? One example with restaurant industry, we made it extremely easy to shift to outside dining in the summer. We issued permits from the health department quickly so they would be up and running. So it will be through the chambers to get information out.”