EXCLUSIVE: Director of Jewish Camp Operators: Draft Safety Plan Presented To County Legislators
Updated: May 10
The director of the Association of Jewish Camp Operators told The SullivanTimes today (Friday) that the Sullivan County legislators mostly responded positively to his organization's May 5 letter and draft safety plan that he believes played a role in the Legislature putting "on pause" a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo to close summer camps in Sullivan.
"The response (of county legislators) was positive for the most part," said Shimon Newmark, the Association director, who operates Camp Agudah in Liberty. "We are working together with local authorities trying to proceed responsibly... coming up with a realistic plan that's safe for the children, the adults, the operators and the local population."
On a conference call Wednesday (May 6), County Manager Josh Potosek told legislators, town supervisors and leaders from local law enforcement that the county's original plan to urge the governor to keep the summer camps closed was "on pause." But Nancy McGraw, the county's public health director, said on the call that she recommended the camps do not open this summer, echoing statements by Senator Jen Metzger and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther.
Newmark said that he believes the County Legislature had a change of heart about a letter to the governor (that would have urged keeping camps closed) after seeing a draft copy of the Jewish Camp Operators' safety plan that was also addressed to Governor Cuomo.
That plan, obtained by The SullivanTimes from a separate source tonight and not authorized for release by Newmark, contained great detail about new protocols, including putting guards at the entrances of the camps. Newmark said the plan still is a work in progress and is pending approval from all the members of the Association of Jewish Camp Operators.
"Guards will man entry points to campgrounds at all times, and prevent all access to the site," the draft plan states. "Guards will wear masks and gloves when accepting deliveries or packages. Bulk deliveries will only be accepted once delivery drivers have donned masks and gloves. Drivers will drop deliveries in designated safe receiving areas and will not be permitted to enter any facility or to have any interaction with staff. "
The plan, drafted by three doctors, opened with:
"As the State of New York has moved past the worst of the COVID-19 epidemic, summer camps are preparing special measures to ensure that the offering of a healthy, summer camp experience that reasonably eliminates campers and staff exposure to COVID-19. The elimination of these risks will be accomplished by strict compliance with the current regulations of the NYS Sanitary Code and Children Camp Code, Part 7, Sub 7-2. Camp administrators and staff will be rigorously trained in the above, as well as in the new, elective measures detailed in this document, with the ultimate goal of eliminating risk of exposure to COVID-19."
The draft plan went into great detail about many procedures. For example:
"In the event that a camper or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19, documentation on the case and the measures taken by the camp will be provided within 24 hours to the local County Health Department, both by phone and in writing."
As for deliveries to and from camps, Newmark said that a part of that plan would mandate that deliveries be made at specific isolated locations on camp grounds to avoid contact between campers/staff and anyone from outside.
He added that only the most life threatening medical cases would involve campers or staff going to Catskill Regional Medical Center while those who may be infected but not in imminent danger would be transported by Hatzolah to hospitals in New York City if there was a Covid-19 outbreak.
The draft plan was written by a medical board consisting of : ● Dr Moshe Lazar, DO, Pediatric Associates of Brooklyn ● Dr. Seth Kurtz, MD, Quality Health Care And Perfect Health Care ● Dr. Moshe Schlusselberg, MD, Pediatric Healthcare of Long Island
(Note: This is a developing story)
Below, is an earlier story that relates to this one.