December 2020 TCCOG Report

Monthly Report

Tompkins County Council of Governments

December 09, 2020

by Councilperson Robert Lynch, Enfield TCCOG Representative,

The Tompkins County Council of Governments (TCCOG) did not meet in November.  So there have been no meetings since last month’s report.  We next meet December 17th.

Nonetheless, you may recall that I touched briefly in September on a subject presented at our August meeting.  Since the subject holds increased relevance today, I’ll will revisit it and inform you of our more recent discussions.

On August 22nd, Nina Saeli, who has since August left her employ with the Tompkins County Health Department, informed us on what she called a “Medical Countermeasures Plan,” a plan to facilitate mass medication distributions in the event of a fast-spreading and lethal natural-occurring or terrorist-imposed biological attack.  As I reported in August:

“The plan is not written for pandemics,” Ms. Saeli cautioned.  The Medical Countermeasures Plan was initiated after the anthrax scare of 2001.  Its emphasis remains on quick response; mass preventive measures; not treatment.  Essentially, it’s a sprint, not a marathon, with an activation schedule of a mere 48 hours.  Health officers access vaccines from the national stockpiles and then have points of distribution (POD’s) ready at a moment’s notice….

“What Ms. Saeli most seeks right now [in August] is appropriate locations for these Open POD’s—public inoculation centers—to be designated in every town in the county.  She has not yet identified a location for Enfield….”

With that in mind, I initiated discussions this past week with Nina Saeli’s successor, Patricia Mason, the County Health Department’s newly-appointed Preparedness Coordinator.  Ms. Mason is attempting to adapt the long-dormant Medical Countermeasures Plan to the likely need for community-based inoculation centers once a vaccine against COVID-19 becomes readily available to the general public.  Both she and I want a so-called “Open POD” (a site available to everyone) made available in Enfield.

As a potential location, I first suggested to Ms. Mason the meeting room at the Enfield Fire Company.  We’ve involved Fire Company officials in the discussions.  As those discussions evolved, we learned that the Health Department is most interested in establishing a drive-through vaccination facility somewhat like the drive-through COVID testing site at the Lansing mall.  Fire Company representatives raised concerns about available parking, driveway space, and possible obstruction for their emergency operations.  Talks continue.  But we’re also looking elsewhere.

One alternative is Enfield Elementary School.  The school has paved parking lots and driveways.  Yet both see heavy use when school is in session.  I’ve also suggested the driveways leading to the Enfield Highway Garage and perhaps the garage itself.  Our discussions remain at the preliminary stage.  But I presume I spoke for this Town Board when I informed Ms. Mason just yesterday that we believe having a vaccine Point of Distribution in Enfield stands in the best interests of the Town and its residents.   As talks progress, I will further inform this Town Board and seek its members’ guidance.

Much remains to be decided about a vaccine rollout.  But when it happens, we want Enfield to be ready.  We’ll keep you informed.

Respectfully submitted,

Robert Lynch, Councilperson

Enfield TCCOG Representative