Dear Guilderland residents:
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are now 210 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the County, with 19 persons hospitalized. There are now 517 persons under mandatory quarantine and 234 persons in precautionary quarantine.
County Executive Daniel P. McCoy was joined by the officials of PVA in Cohoes which is revving up production of emergency ventilators that will greatly benefit County residents. County Executive McCoy added that the County has 8,000 N95 masks ready for distribution. These efforts exemplify our collective efforts to help patients and protect first responders and medical staff in this ongoing fight.
I am checking daily with staff remaining in Town departments who, under Executive Orders and health guidelines, are limited to performing “essential services.” I often have to remind dedicated employees to limit time here, try working from home, and to relax and stay safe and calm. I know that this forced hibernation may be good for bears but not for society, and that it has been very difficult for many in our community. Staying home is the best option for stopping the spread of this virus.
Today, I am highlighting essential services that are being performed in Town Hall. The Town Clerk is usually a beehive of activity with responsibility for recording and managing all official documents, responding to Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests, preparing Town Board minutes, processing licenses and permits for marriage, hunting and fishing, bingo permits, handicapped parking, dog licenses, garbage collection, peddlers, and other State licenses and permits. As of January 1st, the Town Clerk is also the Town’s receiver of taxes.
Most of this work must await normal times, many things such as dog licensing and EZ-Pass, can be done by mail or online, some like FOIL responses are suspended, and a few tasks are “essential services.” These essential services can change every day based upon State directives, and the unique needs of residents. For today, Town Clerk Lynne Buchanan, who is here each day for a few hours, is collecting and depositing 2019 property taxes which after today are referred to the County for collection, preparing death certificates that are required within 24 hours of passing and requested by families, and opening and reviewing bids for the grinding and removing of yard waste at the Transfer Station which itself is an essential service. The Town Clerk also performs many other duties from home.
As I end this third-week of daily email updates, I am starting something that I hope will be very short lived. If you have any ideas, suggestions, or comments about the Town’s response to COVID-19, we have created a new email address; 3AMideas@togny.org. It’s not that early morning ideas are always the best; I just figured that giving the impression of limiting emails to that time (not really) might be helpful for everyone. Please note that, while someone here in our sparingly staffed office will try our best under the circumstances to reply, I apologize in advance if we miss one, more, or all great 3AM ideas.
Thank you again for staying safe and calm.
Peter G. Barber