ULSTER COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Ulster County has declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19. Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan said it is in response to rapidly rising COVID cases and hospitalizations, and the emergence of the new omicron variant.

The order is in effect for at least 30 days. Ryan said this will allow the county to more rapidly procure needed testing supplies for local schools, businesses, and families, bolster available public health and medical staff resources, and to redeploy the workforce to support testing, contact tracing, and vaccination efforts if necessary.

“With COVID cases and hospitalizations surging, and the emergence of a new and potentially more dangerous variant, we must step up our efforts to ensure the health and safety of all of our residents,” said Ryan. “Informed by real-time data and the advice of our team of public health experts, this emergency order is an important step to allow the county to respond rapidly and effectively in order to combat the virus. We must do everything we can, individually and collectively, to prevent another difficult and deadly winter. I encourage all residents to get vaccinated, get your booster, and continue to socially distance and wear masks when indoors around others.”

Since Halloween, Ryan said cases of COVID have tripled in Ulster County, bringing the count to its highest level since April.

“With the emergence of the Omicron variant, it’s even more urgent to get vaccinated and get your booster,” said Ryan. “Vaccines remain our most effective tool to stop the virus and save lives.” 

The county will continue to hold regular vaccination PODs for residents who need to receive their first dose, second dose, or booster dose. Appointments are recommended for the vaccination PODs, although walk-ins will be accommodated as capacity allows. You can sign up for an appointment on the Ulster County COVID website.

The Ulster County Department of Health is still accepting volunteers, particularly medical volunteers to be vaccinators, and screeners. Vaccinators need both an active license and current CPR certificate, or can be basic and advanced EMTs with current CPR certificate. Screeners create the record of vaccination for each patient, so should be computer literate, have attention to detail, and good customer service and communication skills. You can sign up to volunteer on the Ulster County COVID website.