On Wednesday, Gossips published a report Roger Hannigan Gilson had posted on his The Other Hudson Valley Facebook page about the eleven COVID-19 cases that had been traced to a single business, a business whose name was being withheld. In the report, Gilson made this statement:
A spokesman for the county health department would not identify the business, saying releasing the names of businesses with outbreaks was under the purview of the county Board of Supervisors, led by Chairman Matt Murell, and the board had decided to not identify where the outbreak had occurred.
The statement made it sound as if the decision to withhold this information from the public had been made by the entire Board of Supervisors, so Gossips contacted the five Hudson supervisors--Sarah Sterling (First Ward), Abdus Miah (Second Ward), Michael Chameides (Third Ward), Linda Mussmann (Fourth Ward), Rick Scalera (Fifth Ward)--to ask for their comments on the situation. Of the five supervisors, only one responded: Linda Mussmann. Here is the clarification and comment that she provided:
Reporting on Columbia County businesses which have had Covid cases is something that is owned by a small group of people who meet weekly to make decisions regarding COVID-19--Jack Mabb [CCDOH director] is in this group as well as the Chairman [Matt Murell], Sarah Sterling, Rob Lagonia, the county lawyer Rob Fitzsimmons . . . Harrison former sheriff [now Office of Emergency Management director]--and perhaps others.
As far as I understand there is NO written policy regarding this issue that you have raised--which is an error from my point of view (HIPPA does not allow individuals to be named for example) BUT other counties do name businesses that have had COVID-19 cases at their establishments--
The reporter of the article was incorrect--because decisions are made by this group and they do not report to the full board.
Sarah Sterling and Rob Lagonia are respectively deputy chair and chair of the Health and Human Services Committee of the Board of Supervisors.
Gossips is grateful to Linda Mussmann for providing this insight into how policy decisions that impact public health are being made during the pandemic.
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