Dear Guilderland residents:
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are now 330 confirmed cases with 37 persons hospitalized and 13 adults in the intensive care unit. There was one death overnight from COVID-19 bringing the death toll to nine. There are now 441 persons under mandatory quarantine and 43 persons in precautionary quarantine.
The Governor stated that yesterday the State had the largest single-day number of deaths for the second day in a row. The Governor noted that the low increase in hospitalization rates, in the low single digits for several days, indicated that the spread of the virus had flattened. The Governor added that there was insufficient data to conclude that the overall spread had halted or that the number of confirmed cases had peaked. The Governor reiterated that our collective fight against the spread of COVID-19 is maintaining a minimum six-foot separation from each other and keeping non-essential businesses closed. The State has an online complaint form to report violations of business restrictions: https://mylicense.custhelp.com/app/ask.
In yesterday’s email, I announced that two Town EMS paramedics tested positive for COVID-19. I am pleased to report that the medics remain asymptomatic and are in home quarantine, and the tests for other staff, so far, have been negative and working under NYS DOH’s protocol. I thank Medical Director Don Doynow, M.D., EMS Director Jay Tyler, and EMS Director of Operations Sean McGaughnea for their steady leadership during this difficult and stressful time.
As we start a second month of self-imposed hibernation, it is important to maintain safe social interactions through phone calls, letter writing, and social media. This prolonged unsettling period has caused an increase in the number of persons coping, often alone, with stress and anxiety. It is fairly easy to detect coronavirus, but it is very difficult to determine who may need help with mental issues. Please do not hesitate; help is a private phone call away. Just call the mental health hotline at (518) 269-6634 where someone is ready to listen or talk every day from 8am to 8pm. If you are experiencing a psychiatric emergency, please immediately call mobile crisis at (518) 549–6500.
Given the Governor’s Executive Orders, the Highway Department is now operating on a 1/3rd shift work week which means that 1/3rd of its employees report for one-week while the other 2/3rd is at home. Each shift performs essential services involving highway and stormwater maintenance, including picking up lawn bags, tied bundles of branches, and other winter debris, and street repairs. To maintain physical separation, each shift uses more trucks than normal which are staged to maximize the clean-up work. Each truck can hold between 8,000 to 10,000 pounds and make three trips per day.
As you might now fondly remember, we had an early snowfall last fall which caused a premature halt in the vacuuming of leaves. And as a result, and with extended time for raking and lawn cleanup, and some, but not enough, good weather, we have collectively been putting out huge amounts of bags and debris for pickup, including more than 100 bags at a few residences (there has got to be a witty observation inserted here (email suggestions to 3AMIdeas@togny.org)). The sheer volume of accumulated materials would take a large amount of time to handle with full staff working.
As a result of reduced operations and increased demand, the bags on your street will be picked-up once every ten to fifteen weekdays. As the heavier pickups subside, and more crews can safely return to work, the frequency of pickups will greatly increase and hopefully return to a pickup every seven days. All bets (there are no promises) are off if there is any inclement weather which can require the refitting of trucks for ice and snow removal and back again for leaf bag pickups. In the next few weeks, with the opening of local blacktop plants, the Highway crews will start applying “hot patches,” far better than winter “cold patches,” for potholes, edge repairs and other paving projects.
You can help the Highway crews by following the brush and bag pickup guidelines on the Town website at https://www.townofguilderland.org/highway-departmentcall. And please do not call to request special pick-ups because of house parties or events that you are not supposed to be enjoying anyway. Please also remember that, as in normal years, leaf bags and debris pickups happen year round so don’t panic. I often hear from residents who look forward to the arrival of large orange trucks in their neighborhood. I thank our Highway employees for their services during these difficult times.
Thank you for continuing to stay safe and calm.
Peter G. Barber