Broome County to provide cloth masks to those who need them


BINGHAMTON, NY – Broome County has received a shipment of cloth face masks for people who need them when going out in public.

County Executive Jason Garnar announced today that Broome got 68,000 face masks from the state and federal government for distribution to residents.

Last Friday, Governor Cuomo started requiring that everyone who cannot maintain social distancing while in public wear some sort of covering over their nose and mouth.

“There have been a lot of groups of people who have stepped up to provide those masks. They still continue to do that, we still support those efforts. But getting 68,000 masks is a big, big help. That’s going to require a pretty extensive distribution plan. We should have that plan ready to go, ready to be announced by the end of this week,” says Garnar.

Garnar says he still encourages people who can to sew and donate masks at the county’s donation drop-off site at the Oakdale Mall from 8:30 to 2:30 Monday through Friday.

So far, over 1,500 homemade cloth masks have been made, donated and distributed.

Also, healthcare facilities in the county have now conducted over 1600 tests now that more test kits have become available.

And more testing leads to more contact tracing of individuals who test positive.

Public Health Commissioner Rebecca Kaufman says her department has had to build out a larger tracing infrastructure utilizing some medical volunteers and other reassigned staff.

“We’re able to use people currently on our staff who have a background in working with the public and doing some kind of investigation. People like restaurant inspectors, early intervention service coordinators and other titles at the Health Department who have some skill set in this. And they’ve taken trainings with our communicable disease nurse and have joined the team and are doing a great job,” says Kaufman.

Kaufman says what was originally 1 full-time and 2 part-time employees doing tracing has grown to between 20 and 30 since the pandemic began.

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