Coronavirus (COVID-19) Sixtieth Update

Saturday, May 9, 2020
Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 1,336 confirmed cases, and that there are now 28 persons hospitalized and six persons in the intensive care unit.  There was one death yesterday which brought the County’s death toll to 59.  There are now 966 persons under mandatory quarantine and 15 persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 3,083 people have completed quarantine, including 799 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.  
 
The County’s dashboard on COVID-19 data, which is updated each night and does not reflect the numbers given at daily briefings, shows how these numbers have changed since March 11th:  https://legacy.livestories.com/s/v2/covid-19-dashboard-albany-county-ny/dabd57f3-5285-4666-97fc-53c5bf4b8560/.  The State’s website provides COVID-19 data for each county:
 
At his daily press briefing, Governor Cuomo expressed concern about the outbreak of 73 COVID-19 related cases in children including three tragic deaths.  The cases appear similar to Kawasaki disease and toxic shock-like syndrome.  The Governor said that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention asked NYS DOH to develop criteria for identifying and responding to this syndrome, and examining a possible genome and RNA connection.  
 
County Health Commissioner Elizabeth Whalen, M.D. yesterday announced the expansion of testing parameters at UAlbany’s drive-thru testing site which is operated by the State.  Even if asymptomatic, certain essential workers can be tested including healthcare workers, first responders, senior care facility workers, corrections, probation and parole officers, direct care providers, and other workers with direct interaction with the public.  Here a link to the full list of eligible workers: https://www.albanycounty.com/Home/Components/News/News/207/.  You’ll need to make an appointment at (888) 364-3065 or online at: covid19screening.health.ny.gov.  
 
Please note that there is also a testing site at Priority 1 Urgent Care in Hamilton Square, here in Guilderland.  The testing is covered by health insurance, and can be arranged by calling (518) 867-8040 for screening of symptoms and an appointment.
 
I’d like to draw your attention to two items in the Governor’s latest Executive Order 202.28 that have not received much attention.  The first item is that the suspensions of specified laws and regulations during the pandemic “are not continued,” and these legal provisions have returned to full effect as of yesterday.  I had not seen that phrase before, and this Order’s directive is yet another example of a return to normalcy.  These restored provisions include provisions in the Education Law, Mental Hygiene Law, Public Health Law, and various regulations, with little or no explanation.  Here’s the link to the Order: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-20228-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency.   
 
And while it is good to see some unwinding of the Orders, I would hope that, with eight plus weeks of suspension, there is careful consideration of whether some restrictions should be permanently suspended, like, for example, allowing ambulances to transport to urgent care facilities and not just to hospitals or enable trained medics to practice tele-medicine and allow on-site treatment and avoid the transportation.  I am sure that there are other examples of suspended rules that our shared experiences have been proven to be unnecessary. 
  
The other item is the modification of Election Laws to explain how the Board of Election should print or prepare absentee ballot applications for the June 23rd primary election.  It may be the most confusing of the roughly 326 directives issued so far (more Orders and directives are expected this weekend).  This new directive should not be confused with Executive Order 202.26 which deals with changes to the rules for candidates and elections for school boards (and presumably library boards) and budget votes scheduled for June 9th.  This Order explains how these elections will be conducted including the waiving of petition and signature requirements, and that a candidate must declare her or his candidacy by next Tuesday, May 12th.  Here’s the link to that Order: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-20226-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency.
 
By the way, if you check out these Orders, scroll down to the bottom, and you’ll see potentially useful translations in Bengali, Chinese, Haitian-Creole, Korean, Russian, and Spanish.  After trying to decipher these Orders in English, see if reading them in Bengali helps.  
 
There’s no ending comment today on the weather; the less said, the better.
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor