Coronavirus (COVID-19) Seventy-Second Update

Thursday, May 21, 2020
Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that, on a cumulative basis in the County, there are 1,578 confirmed cases, an increase of 26 persons in the past 24 hours.  There are now 25 persons hospitalized, with no new hospitalizations overnight, and one person in the intensive care unit (ICU).  There was one death overnight which raised the County’s death toll to 73.  There are now 906 persons under mandatory quarantine and five persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 3,906 people have completed quarantine, including 1,013 persons who had tested positive and have recovered. 
 
At his daily press briefing, Governor Cuomo announced that, in June, school districts would be provided with guidelines about a potential reopening in the fall.   He said that the State had not yet made a decision about the opening of summer day camps.  He expressed increasing concerns about the 50% increase now affecting 157 children with COVID-19 related cases of a toxic-like syndrome similar to Kawasaki diseases.  There is a concern that the disease may be far more prevalent due a lagged onset.  The Governor said that the State is aggressively investigating the cause of the disease and working on protocols for treatment and prevention.    
 
Yesterday, the Capital Region started the first of the four phases of reopening the local economy.  As part of the State’s reopening plan, each region has an appointed control room which will monitor the region’s status with the seven metrics and indicators measuring the infection rate.  During each of the two-week phases of the reopening process, the Capital Region’s Control Room will monitor the region’s metrics including hospitalization rate, death rate, number of new hospitalizations, hospital bed capacity, ICU bed capacity, testing and contact tracing.  The control room will alert the State if the Capital Region's metrics no longer meet the reopening metrics and make adjustments to the region’s reopening plan. 
 
Each business has been asked to have a reopening safety plan.  A template for a safety plan for each type of business is available here: https://forward.ny.gov/industries-reopening-phase.  When completed, the safety plan should be kept at the business and not submitted to the State.   The plan must include how owners will implement State-mandated guidelines to stop the spread of the virus, stockpiling personal protection equipment, maintaining six feet separation, ensuring hand hygiene, health screenings and proper protocols if an employee tests positive for COVID-19.  The County has helpful online resources for businesses regarding the phased reopening process:  https://www.albanycounty.com/departments/health/coronavirus-covid-19.
 
Yesterday, the Governor also made two special announcements: 
 
Religious gatherings of no more than 10 people and drive-in and parking lot services will be allowed statewide beginning Thursday, May 21st.
 
Memorial Day ceremonies of 10 people or less will be allowed statewide, with final decisions about ceremonies being left to local governments.
 
The second one’s generous grant of “final decisions” to the Town regarding “Memorial Day ceremonies” caused some momentary thought and consideration.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  I appreciate allowing small-sized gatherings to celebrate Memorial Day as a welcome return to normalcy.  It just seems odd for the State, without notice or guidance, to ask local governments to regulate holiday ceremonies.  What is a “ceremony”? Can it be a family gathering in a backyard with a remembrance of loved ones?
 
The fact remains that, while the region has resumed business activity, gatherings larger than 10 persons are not allowed.  The Police Department will continue focusing upon educating business owners and residents about the importance of avoiding large gatherings, maintaining physical separation and wearing face masks, and should rarely need to issue citations for backyard barbeques and pool parties this holiday weekend. 
 
Thanks to the generosity of residents, the Transfer Station delivered $410 to the Guilderland Food Pantry.  The donation was mostly loose change placed by residents in a jar at the payment window.  The staff asked me to share this latest example of our community’s kindness and thoughtfulness for the needs of others.  
 
Thank you for continuing to stay safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor