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  • Rich Klein

EDITORIAL: County Manager, Health Commish, Legislature Chair, Others Fail Public On COVID Situation

While so many of us are thankful for our general health over Thanksgiving, Sullivan County officials don't want to talk about some painful truths about COVID-19.

Let's look at some of those truths:

-At least six inmates at the County Jail in Monticello have tested positive this past week, yet it's unclear if they are receiving adequate medical care. This, while the Sheriff's Office posts photos from the jail over the holiday - but not one word about the crisis in the "world class" new facility where this wasn't supposed to happen and that has cost taxpayers millions.

-Fifty residents tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday alone, believed to be the largest single-day record for new cases since the pandemic began in early 2020.

-Three residents have died from coronavirus over a two-day period this past week alone.

Meanwhile, the new Omicron variant that many scientists believe spreads much more rapidly than the very dangerous Delta variant, has been recorded in South Africa, Hong Kong and Israel. And, it's just a matter of time before the first cases hit the United States, New York State and makes it way up Route 17.

Sadly, too many of the so-called leaders of Sullivan County including County Manager Josh Potosek, Health & Family Services Commissioner John Liddle, County Legislature Chair Rob Doherty and Sheriff Michael Schiff - have been largely silent in the face of this new surge in recent weeks.

This, while County Executives and other leaders in neighboring counties like Orange and Ulster continually keep their constituents informed, where they don't bury their heads in the sand and where they don't pretend there are no challenges or problems that need to be solved. That's what governments are supposed to do.

Until citizens in large numbers demand more of these passive leaders, the most vulnerable in the County will continue to suffer because they didn't receive adequate information to slow the spread of COVID in their homes, businesses, school districts and organizations.

And perhaps the most offensive display of failed leadership is the way that Legislature Chair Rob Doherty and Legislator George Conklin III conveniently violate a Sullivan County Emergency Order that requires them to wear a mask inside all government buildings.

A group of some legislators were correct in recent weeks to publicly raise the issue of removing Doherty from his "throne" with a possible vote of no confidence next month.

Certainly, that would be a good start. But the other eight legislators and Josh (The Silent One) Potosek also need to get their priorities straight.

The first and primary responsibility of any government is to keep the public safe. That includes when there's a significant crisis that risks the health and very survival of citizens.


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