MIDDLETOWN - Cases of the novel coronavirus continue to climb in the Middletown area. It's concerning, but not surprising to local officials.
As of Tuesday afternoon, county data showed the city of Middletown had 715 cases, the Town of Wallkill had 647 cases, the town of Mount Hope had 93 cases and the town of Wawayanda had 143 cases. Those numbers indicate the residence of a person diagnosed with COVID-19.
Middletown Mayor Joseph DeStefano attributed city's rising numbers to the high density, with about 30,000 people living in five square miles, as well as its large number of residents working in the medical field who might have direct contact with the virus.
“This is not an individual city or town by town issue,” DeStefano said. “When you go to ShopRite, you don't know where they're from. They don't know where you're from. This is a societal thing.”
Crime is significantly low, so Middletown police officers are patrolling for and communicating to people violating state social distancing guidelines, DeStefano said. He emphasized the importance of wearing a mask and staying at least six feet apart from one another when in public.
Wallkill Town Supervisor Frank DenDanto said it is critical that people of the town, with 30,000 residents in its 64 square miles, adhere to the state's stay-at-home mandates and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines.
“I used an interesting analogy not too long ago. The discomfort of a root canal: You don't stop a root canal mid-surgery because it's uncomfortable; you continue forward, and you fix the tooth, and you move forward,” DenDanto said. “I think that's the general approach we should take in terms of making a normal out of crazy.”
Both municipalities reported employees who have contracted COVID-19, but none have been hospitalized.
Taking care of the area's most vulnerable populations, especially senior citizens, has been a priority.
The City of Middletown created a program to deliver free food to senior citizens or those with a financial need.
DenDanto said the town has made a special effort to check in with its local nursing home facilities. He and his wife spend their down time churning out homemade masks from their dining room table.