‘These are stories that ... must never be forgotten’

Goshen. New book chronicles Orange County’s response through the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic; proceeds will be donated to regional food banks.

Goshen /
| 23 Jun 2021 | 03:16

Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus announced this week the release of a book that chronicles the county response through the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The book was commissioned by the New York State County Executives Association, through the New York State Association of Counties, to document and share the hard lessons learned during this unprecedented public health crisis.

“Our Darkest Hours: County Leadership and the COVID Pandemic” was written by Stephen Acquario, Mark Lavigne and Peter Golden.

Softcover copies of the book are available for purchase from Archway Publishing and Amazon for $19.99 and an e-book version can be purchased for $4.99.

All proceeds from sales of the book will be donated to Feeding New York State, which supports the 10 regional food banks that have been providing food to the hardest hit New Yorkers.

“In the moment, all one could do was make decisions and take action, always with the safety and well-being of county residents in mind,” Neuhaus said. “During the pandemic, our residents, from doctors, nurses, grocery store clerks and EMS workers to the working parent now a teacher, and the teacher now a tech expert, and everyone in between displayed a resilient, courageous spirit that was truly amazing and inspiring. At the end of the day, the County Executives felt strongly that the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic should be documented so future leaders have a handbook full of hard-earned knowledge to help them navigate a similar crisis.”

First-person accounts

Part I of the book comes directly from the written or oral histories submitted by county executives to document what happened in each county. These first-person accounts provide a glimpse into the fear, struggle, triumph, and pain that local leaders faced as they worked to protect their residents from an invisible and insidious enemy.

Policy and economics

Part II provides a public policy account of the fractured federal and state response to COVID-19 and explores the economic impact of New York on Pause, the unprecedented state executive powers, and the diminution of local home rule. The Appendices include material relating to congressional actions, the state’s executive orders, and cases and COVID deaths by county and month from March 15, 2020 to March 15, 2021.

“This book documents the struggle, the hardships and the triumphs that county leaders experienced during the height of the pandemic. They were the boots on the ground, working 15-hour days, seven days a week for 150 days, coordinating efforts to secure PPE, enforce mask and social distancing mandates while also encouraging residents to check on their neighbors and support struggling local businesses,” said Acquario, NYSAC’s Executive Director. “These are stories that needed to be memorialized for posterity and must never be forgotten.”

“In the moment, all one could do was make decisions and take action, always with the safety and well-being of county residents in mind.”
Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus