Schools in Dutchess and Ulster will close for two weeks as each county announced a state of emergency in response to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases. Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro confirmed it now has three coronavirus cases and has escalated the number of residents in quarantine. Ulster County has five confirmed cases in the region, according to data shared by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday.

Schools in Dutchess and Ulster will close for 14 days starting Monday, March 16.

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"As a parent, I know this will impact families in our community, and understand the sacrifice this will entail, but I am confident we are making the right decision," Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan said in a press release issued Friday. "We are working closely with school officials and community leaders to develop plans at the school district-level to help alleviate the stresses and hardships this will place on our County’s families. Based on what we currently know about the spread of COVID-19, we believe that acting decisively now will significantly reduce the impact on our community and help protect our most vulnerable neighbors"

Schools will be closed for instruction, as well as after-school and extracurricular activities.

In addition to school closures, Molinaro suspended all large social and community gatherings and Dutchess County Jail visitation, as well as postponed civil service exams as of Friday, March 13.

"As coronavirus has emerged as a pandemic, reaching countries on each hemisphere, we in Dutchess County have prepared for the inevitability we would be touched by this emerging health situation," Molinaro said. "Today’s declaration is the next step in providing Dutchess County the resources necessary to best respond. This declaration does not limit travel, but we urge residents to limit contact with those who are sick and stay home if sick."

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