March 28, 2020

A Message from Director Greg Olsen

A Message from Director Greg Olsen

I am proud to live in NYS and to work in the Cuomo administration. I see every day the compassion for the health and safety of the people of this state and honesty articulated so well, led by Governor Cuomo and practiced on down through the ranks of state government, county government, the private sector and the residents of this state. Individuals in my agency and all the other agencies are going above and beyond every day to help however they can and this is also the case at the community level. More than 40,000 additional health care workers answered the call to service to help those in need. More than 6,000 mental health professionals are volunteering to assist those with anxiety, depression, social isolation and all that accompany the fear that people face at this time. Our thoughts and prayers go out to front line heroes - hospital and medical staff, non-medical staff working in hospitals, first responders, police officers, home care and personal care aides, hospice staff, workers in grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and all those essential service industries. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those in our service sector who are serving older New Yorkers – those who are delivering meals, groceries and supplies, medicine, providing transportation to critical health services such as dialysis and cancer treatments. I thank the cadre of people who have volunteered to make phone calls to those who are shut in and are isolated and alone. To think of the sacrifice all of these workers and volunteers are making to go into harm’s way every day to help, knowing they could get contract the virus and bring it home to their families is the definition of a hero and deserve our deepest respect and gratitude.


Taking care of yourself during these unprecedented times is critically important. The sadness and uncertainty many of us are feeling is grief. It is important to recognize this and do things for yourself and others to try to stay connected, via phone or skype or social media. To make calls to family and friends. To get some fresh air and exercise and to balance all the bad news with something better.


One way I cope with this is to try to walk 20,000 steps a day – to get some fresh air, to allow my body to relax, to try to get my thoughts in check. I have noticed many others out doing the same. I have also noticed that within a three week time period, due to fear and anxiety, kindness is disappearing. People will not look you in the eye, they do not respond to my “hello’s” as they would have just a short time ago. I am hopeful that we can, collectively, continue to be kind despite the uncertainty we know everyone is feeling. In the agency I am honored to oversee, kindness to each other is something we talk about and stress frequently because it matters. It matters how we treat and interact with each other. I urge you to help me keep kindness for one another at the forefront.


Some resources for you to pass on to address grief, social isolation and the anxiety and uncertainly everyone is feeling are below. Again, thank you New York for showing other New Yorkers and the nation how to be there for one another and what true leadership means.

Mental Health Hotline is 844-863-9314

Want to volunteer – generally or specific tasks? – [email protected]

Grief groups  -

AARP Social Isolation -