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Local health depts. told to plan for combined COVID/flu season

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At the direction of Governor Cuomo, state health officials sent a letter to all county health departments to ensure localities are prepared for a combined COVID-19/flu season this Fall.

The letter asks each county to detail plans on what they’ll need to provide sufficient testing for both.

Local health officials have also been asked to develop robust flu vaccination programs.

All plans are due back to the state by 3 pm on Wednesday, August 26th.

The full text of the letter is available below:

Dear Commissioner/Public Health Director:

The New York State Department of Health greatly appreciates the work of our Local Health Department (LHD) partners to date in our efforts to contain and prevent community transmission of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The Department is also grateful for and relies upon your commitment to protecting the public health going forward.  

As we enter now into an influenza season during an unprecedented pandemic, Governor Cuomo has directed my Department to ensure local communities have adequate testing capacity for both seasonal influenza and COVID-19 so that we can make sure limited testing, lab, and treatment resources are being utilized most effectively. 

I am requesting detail about what plans for this fall your LHD has developed to provide residents of your county with sufficient availability of, access to, and information about both flu and COVID-19 tests. Your response will help inform the state’s ongoing efforts to build a sufficient testing system to protect all New Yorkers. 

If there are any issues or barriers your LHD can foresee that will make it more difficult to maintain sufficient testing capacity within your county, please note them specifically, and my team will work with yours to get them resolved.

Finally, in addition to adequate testing capacity, developing and implementing a robust influenza vaccination plan will help ensure we can continue to respond efficiently to the ongoing challenges of this pandemic, so please also provide information on specific steps your LHD is taking to increase vaccination rates in your communities. 

Please share this information on plans for flu and COVID-19 testing and plans for flu vaccination, including any anticipated barriers, by 3 pm on Wednesday, August 26th to

Thank you for all that you do and I look forward to our continued partnership in combating this pandemic.


Howard A. Zucker, M.D. J.D.

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