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Inside New York's Coronavirus Command Center

Posted at 2:56 PM, Mar 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-06 18:40:34-05

ALBANY, N.Y. (WKBW) — Monitors are everywhere: on desks, mounted on walls, and hanging from the ceiling.

Inside the State Emergency Operations Center, located in Albany, staff are monitoring and evaluating every development of the COVID-19 outbreak in an effort to strengthen the state's situational awareness.

You can consider it the hub for planning and logistics, and it will remain activated 24/7 as New York responds to what officials are calling "inevitable" increases in confirmed cases of Novel Coronavirus across the state.

By Friday evening, there were 44 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New York State, none of which are in Western New York.

The Emergency Operations Center is led by Director of Emergency Management Dan O'Hara, who reports to the Commissioner of the New York State Division of Homeland Security.

This command center is activated anytime there is a significant event that requires an emergency response, including the snowstorm in November 2014 that coated parts of Western New York in seven feet of snow, and the more recent flooding along the Lake Ontario shoreline.

Winter Storm
January 19, 2019 - Albany, NY - Emergency personnel monitor an approaching winter storm from the State Emergency Operations Center in Albany. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

Among the logistics coordinated here are the resources for local municipalities. A web-based emergency response platform allows local municipalities to submit their needs, like sandbags during the Lake Ontario flooding, directly to the Emergency Operations Center.

As part of the monitoring effort, numerous "Emergency Support Functions" have been activated as well, according to Colin Brennan, Communications Director at the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

"With regards to this [Coronavirus] response, experts from a multitude of state agencies are currently supporting these ESF activations and focusing on topics such as public health, public safety, housing, and transportation, as well as general planning and logistics," Brennan tells 7 Eyewitness News.