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Day Says The State Of Rockland Is Strong; Business Community Is Back On Track
By Tina Traster
County Executive Ed Day on Monday delivered an upbeat 2021 State of the County address reflecting the continued response to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic rebound, a strong infrastructure, and Double A ratings from Standard & Poors.
“We are building resiliency so that we are ready for whatever comes next,” said Day, who chronicled in detail how the many departments of Rockland County responded to the health and economic impacts brought on by the pandemic.
Day said the infusion of $63 million in federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan will play a significant role in the county’s comeback, and that those dollars are “separate and apart from the regular budget.”
The State of the County address, usually held in February, was delayed due to the pandemic and vaccination rates. But Day, who is running for re-election, assured the audience that “the state of our beloved county is strong.”
From the outset, Day paid tribute to the department heads and the people of Rockland who performed extraordinary deeds throughout COVID – from those who did contract tracing and undertook case investigations for quarantines and isolations to the workers who showed up daily to run grocery stores, make deliveries, cooks, doctors, nurses and first responders.
Day, who has been fully vaccinated said the total number of vaccine doses administered in the county is 50,484 to date
The county executive also hailed Health Commissioner, Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert for bringing vaccines directly to communities in need via clinics in Spring Valley, Haverstraw and West Haverstraw — some of the hardest hit communities. County workers also delivered vaccines to houses of worship, community centers, large private businesses and even to the Palisades Center mall, he said.
The county also took the lead, Day said, on developing a 13,000-person list of seniors for vaccinations, which has resulted in a 88.6 percent of 65 and older having received at least one dose.
There have been 974 COVID-19 related deaths here in Rockland.
“Getting vaccinated largely prevents severe illness, hospitalizations, and death,” said Day. “If you are not yet vaccinated, I urge you to talk to your doctor or healthcare provider. It’s not a guarantee but it is the best protection we have.”
Through long lockdowns and a slow roll-out of vaccines, many Rockland businesses struggled.
Day thanked the county’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism, which hosted livestream sessions to inform small businesses and nonprofits of resources available to assist them during COVID-19 and to help them apply for funding.
The county launched the Rock Gov – Face Cov Program which distributed over 30,000 face masks to small businesses with between 1-20 employees – to help them reopen safely last summer.
The Department of Planning developed, launched and maintained one of the first COVID-19 dashboards to provide data and transparency to residents. For their work the GIS team received two awards from the New York State GIS Association for their contributions in the fight against COVID, Day said. “They continue to update the data sets to display information about whether a person hospitalized for COVID-19 is symptomatic or asymptomatic.
Building on its roots, the biomed sector in Rockland is thriving again.
“Let us credit the talented scientists at Pfizer for their work developing a lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine,” said Day. The New York Center for Innovation campus in Pearl River has added NY Critical Materials, a manufacturer of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which has leased over 50,000 square feet of commercial space to create a $4.9 million facility. They plan to hire 100 new employees and have invested in eight specialized machines that will allow them to manufacture 2- to 3 million N95 respirator face masks per day.
The opening of this facility will help prevent any future PPE shortages and its made-in-America mission will support New York State and local needs.
Partnering on these efforts are Steven Porath and the Rockland Industrial Development Agency.
By the numbers in 2021:
- 17 new project applications
- $981 million in investments
- 400 new jobs created
- Nearly 600 existing jobs retained
- Plus, thousands of temporary construction jobs during the building or expansion process
“The projects span multiple job sectors including manufacturing, distribution, recreation, office space and a new datacenter – showing just how broad Rockland’s appeal is,” said Day. “These investments and others will lead to further improvements in the local unemployment rate, which stood at 5.1 percent in July – down from a high of 13.4 percent during the worst of the pandemic last April.
The film industry too sprung back earlier this year. The county’s film revenue has grown considerably – generating total revenue of more than $378,000 in 2020, and more than $870,000 so far in 2021.