Coronavirus (COVID-19) Sixteenth Update

Thursday, March 26, 2020
Dear Guilderland residents:
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are 166 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the County, with 15 persons hospitalized.  There are now 566 persons under mandatory quarantine and 247 persons in voluntary quarantine. Please remember that this statistics should not give a false sense of security about the spread of COVID-19 because the number of testing kits is low and tests are only given in hospital settings.  
I had the opportunity today to visit the Department of Emergency Services (EMS) which with its Medical Director, paramedics and emergency medical technicians operates the Town’s six Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulances.  ALS ambulances provide cardiac care, advanced respiratory support, monitoring of hospital EKG transmissions, administration of pain management, IV therapy, and other advanced lifesaving techniques. Jay Tyler, Director of EMS, and Sean McGaughnea, Director of EMS Operations, reported that the EMS Department is operating under a response plan, including staffing contingency, and that all shifts are fully operational.  They stated that there has been no increase in 911 calls over the past two weeks and that the department has the staffing, resources, and equipment to address foreseeable emergency response needs.  
I also had the opportunity to view an ambulance that was being decontaminated by the newly acquired ozone generator.  This new device avoids the hours of manual disinfecting that is often required after certain responses, and allows medics and EMTs to perform other vital services.  I also had the chance to see the department’s stock of essential clothing and equipment that helps keep our medical responders safe and healthy. I also thank Jon Phillips of Phillips Hardware in Guilderland Center for its generous donations of disposable gloves, safety glasses, paper towels, hand sanitizers, and disinfectants which are used every day by EMS crews to decontaminate persons and equipment, and supplement the Town’s supplies.  
The EMS medics have also started practicing community paramedicine which was allowed by a Governor’s Executive Order.   It allows medics to “treat and release” patients who may need some medical attention but not a transport to the hospital.  I am far from knowledgeable about community paramedicine but I know that leaders in the EMS community believe that it could play an important role in providing cost-efficient health care.  A silver lining in this health care crisis would be an appreciation that measures which are deemed necessary for public health during a “disaster emergency” would find use in future normal times.
With Town Hall closed, like most other government offices, the receipt of office mail has slowed except from essential government services.  Today was no different except for its inclusion of an official looking envelope from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). That’s certainly not a frequent occurrence here.  In my eagerness to read the enclosed report, I quickly noted its reference to “School Street” and I immediately wondered what was happening in Guilderland Center and whether I should call the Guilderland Central School District.  In my speed reading (never a good idea with Federal government notices), I noticed phrases like “survival rate estimates,” “evaluations of the reasons for mortality,” and “no guarantee that it would be successful.” That’s just on the first page   After a slower paced reading of the next two pages, I realized that the detailed report was about what measures should be installed so that “juvenile blueback herring” could survive passage through turbines at a hydroelectric facility in Cohoes.
I have no idea why this report was addressed to the Town of Guilderland.  Don’t worry; we will forward it to the City of Cohoes. In these stressful times, it is comforting to know that the careful review of important projects is taking place and that a FERC public officer finds the time and understands the importance of ensuring the safe passage of juvenile herrings.  
Thank you again for staying safe and calm.   
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor