Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thirty-Ninth Update

Saturday, April 18, 2020
Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are 621 confirmed cases with 35 persons hospitalized and seven persons in the intensive care unit (ICU).  The death toll from COVID-19 remains at 20. There are now 747 persons under mandatory quarantine and 51 persons in precautionary quarantine. The County noted that 1,508 people have completed quarantine, including 312 persons who had tested positive, and have recovered.
 
At his daily press conference, Governor Cuomo announced that the State could be past the plateau in the spread of the virus, and may have started a descent.  The death toll, while tragically high, has fallen to the lowest number in more than two weeks. The Governor emphasized that the reopening of non-essential businesses and schools was dependent upon continuing progress which will not be proven until testing was far more available.  
 
Thank you for helping the Town’s business community by shopping at essential businesses and online for pickups, delivery, and gift cards.  You might find of interest a Take-out Guide which focuses on Guilderland restaurants that offer take-out and delivery. Here is the link: https://issuu.com/our_towne/docs/guilderland_take-out_guide.  This website, which will be regularly updated, has activated links to each restaurant’s website for menus and ordering.   I would like to thank Lowell Knapp of Our Towne Guilderland, and his children, for putting this very easy to use resource together.  
 
Among my new tasks is the regular reading of the Governor’s Executive Orders to see what impact they might have on providing Town services.   As of a few minutes ago, there are twenty-one Executive Orders containing about 280 directives, with more likely this weekend. It’s a somewhat dreary Saturday so I’m spending some time re-reading the Orders. 
 
Of all the directives, I have probably heard more frustration and anguish over the order which prevented the Town’s planned opening of the Western Turnpike Golf Course last weekend.  As much as I am not a fan of sentences starting with “However,” the directive was clear: “However, golf courses are not essential.”
 
I am not a golfer but I have to give golfers a lot of credit for mobilizing and lobbying for relief.  But, in the end, what was once clear is now muddy. Here is the new directive:
 
However, golf courses are not essential and cannot have employees working on-premise; notwithstanding this restriction, essential services, such as groundskeeping to avoid hazardous conditions and security, provided by employees, contractors, or vendors are permitted and private operators may permit individuals access to the property so long as there are no gatherings of any kind and appropriate social distancing of six feet between individuals is strictly abided.
 
A close second to my dislike of sentences starting with “however” is the mid-sentence use of “notwithstanding” and together they appear to act as a double negative.   It now appears that grounds keeping is allowed (but that was probably already covered by a directive which permits “landscaping, but only for maintenance”). It also appears to allow walkers on cart paths as long as a six-foot separation is maintained (but that also was already covered by a directive which permits public access to “Parks and other open public spaces”).  
 
The key question is whether the playing of golf, like walking, is allowed if “there are no gatherings of any kind and appropriate social distancing of six feet between individuals is strictly abided.”   That is something that CJ Gallup, Director of Parks & Recreation, and Casey Childs, Golf Professional, get to ponder and try to answer. As of last evening, all local area municipal golf courses are still closed with no opening timetable.  The local Professional Golfers Association has scheduled a webinar early next week on how to interpret the latest guidance.  Today’s snowfall gave Casey and CJ a well-deserved reprieve from the chaos. As for tomorrow and next week, please check the course’s website (https://www.westernturnpike.com/) for the latest update and I will let you know if anything impacting the playing of golf appears in a future Executive Order. 
 
And, just as I was about to finalize this update, the Governor issued another Executive Order in response to this health emergency (sorry, no mention of golf).   The directive deals exclusively with the conditions under which marriage ceremonies could be conducted by “utilizing audio-video technology.” In taking 20 lines to grant this power, I have the feeling that part of next week will be spent figuring out what it means for soon-to-be married couples and how it should be interpreted by the Town’s marriage officers.
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor