As Oswego County officials fight to stop the spread of COVID-19, there's another struggle.
Negotiations have taken place with hotel and cabin owners in hopes of providing a safe space for people who need to isolate or quarantine.
“Rural communities don’t necessarily have hotels and things of that nature,” James Weatherup, the Oswego County Legislature chairman. “We’ve reached out to a great number of them. Some of them were slightly apprehensive and others jumped right up to it. If the thing was to get into the hospitals, to first responders or police, things of that nature, the need could go up tremendously overnight, so we want to be ready.”
“For folks that can’t do that, don’t have separate sleeping quarters or there’s other hardships to be able to do that at home, then we need a place that we can safely isolate or quarantine,” said Diane Oldenburg, the Oswego County Health Department senior public health educator.
Oldenburg says the length of stay will vary, but they’re following the New York State Department of Health’s guidelines.
“We may have to separate them from their household,” said Oldenburg. “For someone under quarantine that was potentially exposed to someone, they’re going to be in quarantine for 14 days. For those in isolation, they may not have to be isolated for the full 14 days depending on when their symptoms started.”
Those who need a place to stay won’t have to worry about the costs. Expenses will be covered using the county’s COVID-19 response fund.
“Our hope is we won’t need them,” said Weatherup. “But, we’re going to be prepared.”
The county’s department of social services partners with motel owners to give homeless individuals a safe spot to live too. Workers provide food, prescriptions, and other essential items when needed.