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Washington County’s Chairman of the Board, Samuel J. Hall, today, March 25, 2020, calls upon our visitors, weekenders, second-home owners and short-term rental owners and those with rental listings to refrain from visiting Washington County during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
There are currently six (6) confirmed cases of COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus) in the County and we are attempting to proactively reduce further exposure as it impacts the County’s population and our limited health and public safety assets.
We are beginning to see an influx of travelers from outside the County who are staying at second homes and short-term rentals, like AirBNB and VRBO. We are also seeing people who believe that they will receive faster testing services by leaving their main residence and coming here. Washington County is already following one positive case in which a non-County resident arrived thinking they would receive better access to testing. Unfortunately, seeking refuge from the more populous areas will not protect you from this global pandemic.
Both Governor Cuomo and Washington County have called upon the populace to halt the spread of the COVID-19 virus by limiting their movements to travel that is absolutely necessary. That is the only way we can stop the spread and protect our families and friends from this dangerous virus that can be dangerous and even fatal to the elderly and people with underlying health conditions.
It is unquestionable that the number of exposed people will increase with a more mobile population. An influx of people, no matter where their original domicile, can only lead to more cases in Washington County, thereby overwhelming its resources.
Washington County has NO hospitals and few healthcare providers. Those providers we do have are overwhelmed by the current needs of its residents. Additional burdens upon the County’s healthcare providers will strain our already taxed resources.
The number of test kits available in our area is very limited and we are following the statewide guidelines for testing. Coming to Washington County will not result in faster or better testing, or care, than that available at one’s domicile. In fact, the wait could actually be longer with resources being devoted downstate.
Many small businesses are closed, services are severely strained and grocery stores, while still open to the public, are experiencing a shortage of food and necessities. They are having difficulty in serving our full time residents.
In keeping with federal and state mandates we are asking that ALL people stay at home and limit their movements. Please do not leave your home to visit, rent, or relocate at this time.
In addition, together with our neighbors in Essex County, we are requesting PROPERTY OWNERS REMOVE SHORT-TERM RENTAL LISTINGS FROM SERVICES SUCH AS AIRBNB AND VRBO. We are also asking our seasonal residents to remain where they are and not come to Washington County until the crisis has passed.
Only by working together can we limit the spread of COVID-19 and keep ALL of us safe from this deadly threat.
Pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order 202.10, non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason (e.g. parties, celebrations, or other social events) are canceled or postponed through April 22, 2020. The County will have no choice but to regard outside short term rentals and other non-resident gatherings as a violation.
We thank you for your anticipated cooperation and look forward to seeing you when the crisis has passed.
Samuel J. Hall, Chairman
Washington County Board of Supervisors