Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney chided the Trump administration on Friday for taking too long to make and distribute the huge volume of test kits that medical labs and facilities will need to identify coronavirus cases as COVID-19 spreads in New York and across the U.S.
Speaking at a press conference in Goshen, the Cold Spring Democrat said he was frustrated that the administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “have been too slow in the development and the dissemination of the test kits so that we can do the testing at greater scale, which of course allows us to do better tracing and to do better containment efforts.”
Maloney was speaking after a panel discussion at the Orange County Emergency Services Center at which medical professionals and county officials from Orange and Dutchess counties talked about ways they are preparing for the inevitable arrival of COVID-19 and recommended a measured approach to the outbreak. No patients in either county had tested positive yet for the virus.
During the panel discussion, Maloney praised the $8.3 billion just approved by Congress and President Trump to track and contain COVID-19, but said testing kits need to be more widely available and CDC needs to disseminate more guidance, particularly to those caring for vulnerable populations.
“We need to understand exactly what the path to a vaccine is and a realistic timeframe for that,” he added. “We need to have better information on the mortality rates because you hear widely divergent information on that.”
Maloney told reporters later that the CDC has now “gotten out of the way” so that public and private institutions can begin producing test kits more quickly. “The vice president has made pronouncements about this that have not been fully accurate, but the direction is correct,” he said. “It just needs to happen faster.”
Flanked by two Republican county executives and two assemblymen from different parties, the Democratic congressman said the outbreak requires White House leadership and shouldn't be a political issue.
“But setting the politics aside,” Maloney said, “it is important that the White House communicate the seriousness of this, that they coordinate the federal response and that they disseminate the resources effectively and efficiently that have been made available by the Congress so that we're doing what we need to do when we can do some good.”
College student plans Assembly run
A Republican college student from Beacon plans to challenge Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson for the seat Jacobson won two years ago in a heavily Democratic district.
The prospective Republican candidate for the 104th Assembly District is Andrew Gauzza, whose Facebook page lists him as a government major at Manhattan College in the Bronx.
Jacobson, a former longtime Orange County Democratic chairman, won the Assembly seat after serving leaving his party leadership position and serving on the Newburgh City Council. The seat had been vacant for several months since the death that April of Frank Skartados, the Democratic assemblyman who last represented the 104th District.
The district includes the cities of Newburgh, Beacon and Poughkeepsie, along with the towns of Newburgh, Lloyd and Marlborough, and has more than twice as many enrolled Democratic voters as Republicans. Jacobson beat his Republican opponent by about 7,000 votes in 2018.
Cahill seeks 13th Assembly term
State Assemblyman Kevin Cahill announced Thursday he plans to run again for the Assembly seat he has held since 1998.
The Kingston Democrat represents the 103rd Assembly District, which takes in much of Ulster County and two Dutchess County towns and has a huge Democratic enrollment edge of more than 2-to-1. No one ran against Cahill in 2018, and he won the previous two races by large margins.
In a statement, Cahill touted grants he helped secured for various local projects, including the Edmund Burke Community Resource Center in Kingston, and legislation he has sponsored such as the Statewide Emergency Tenant Protection Act.
“I will continue to work for the best interests of the people I have had the honor of serving in elective public office for 29 of the last 33 years,” said Cahill, a former Ulster County legislator who served one Assembly term in the 1990s before losing and regaining his seat. “While that is a long time by any measure, the duties and responsibilities are ever-evolving and my enthusiasm to serve is as strong as it was the first time I took office.”
The candidate planning to challenge Cahill in November is Rex Bridges, a Conservative Party member from Rhinebeck in Dutchess County. Candidates have until April 2 to file petitions to run.
Two candidates seek Senate seat Seward will vacate
A Schoharie County farmer and an Otsego County business owner and legislator are set to square off for the state Senate seat that retiring Republican James Seward is vacating and that includes four Ulster County towns in the broad area it covers.
The Republican candidate is Schenuvus resident Peter Oberacker, owner of Form Tech Solutions and a member of the Otsego County Board of Representatives.
The Democratic candidate is Jim Barber, a Middleburgh farmer who held government jobs for nine years: he ran New York's Farm Service Agency – a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture – for seven years and worked for the state Department of Agriculture and Markets for two years.
They plan to compete for the 51st Senate District, which includes all or part of nine counties and takes in the towns of Hardenburgh, Shandaken, Olive and Rochester in Ulster County, its southern tip. Seward, who lives in Otsego County, is leaving office this year after 34 years in the Senate.