TOWN OF GUILDERLAND'S RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

The Town seeks to provide daily updates regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19).  Every day, and often by the hour, conditions change and require new and different responses by the Town.  The Town's first priority is to ensure public safety and property, and resulted in the Declaration of a State of Emergency.  The Town has also closed all buildings to the public.  Police and EMS will continue responding to all emergencies. The Transfer Station will have modified operations for the protection of visitors and employees.  Highway crews, with reduced staffs, will continue with winter clean-up, removal of debris, and maintain Town road.  Water & Sewer will respond to emergencies.  Parks & Recreation will maintain parks, open space and trails under health guidelines.  Building and Fire will continue with regular inspections. All services will be performed under recommended health guidelines.

Our goal here is to keep you updated on a daily basis, if possible, to this dynamic health emergency in our community, and help you make informed choices, stay calm and remain safe.  Here are important resources on COVID-19:

Below are daily emailed updates to residents in reverse chronological order.  Please also consider signing up for Nixle and email subscription to Town notices.


 
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 now 1,754 confirmed COVID-19 cases, an increase of seven persons since yesterday.  There was one new hospitalization overnight and there are now 21 persons hospitalized with one person in the intensive care unit.  The County has seen no deaths from COVID-19 since Sunday which left the death toll at 112.  There are now 725 persons under mandatory quarantine and six persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 4,688 people have completed quarantine, including 1,382 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.
 
At today’s press conference, County Executive Dan McCoy and Andrew Kennedy, President of The Center for Economic Growth, reviewed the pandemic’s devastating impact upon a robust local economy.  With the Phase 2 reopening, there is hope that tens of thousands of furloughed and unemployed workers would soon return to not-for-profits, retail, technology, property managements, barbershops and other local businesses.  
 
The County DOH also reported that, as of 5pm yesterday, 25,919 county residents had been tested and that 7.3% had tested positive, a drop from 8.1% one week ago and 9.2% two weeks ago.  These numbers suggest that, as more residents are tested, fewer are found to be positive.   Persons in their 50s and 20s have about the same number of positive cases at 297 and 296 persons respectively, followed by persons in their 30s and 60s at 213.  Women have experienced a higher death rate (59.8%) and current hospitalization rate (59.1%) than men, likely because there are far more women than men above the age of 75 years.  The County’s “dashboard” provides updated COVID-19 statistics: https://legacy.livestories.com/s/v2/covid-19-dashboard-albany-county-ny/dabd57f3-5285-4666-97fc-53c5bf4b8560/.
 
In his daily press briefing, the Governor confirmed that the State’s statistics showed a continued decline in the spread of COVID-19, with overnight declines in new admissions, hospitalizations, intubations, and deaths.  The overnight death toll of 49 was the lowest since the start of the pandemic, and tenth consecutive day with deaths below 100.  
 
In a response announcement, the Governor announced that, starting tomorrow, outdoor dining at restaurants would be allowed in regions that are in Phase 2 reopening including the Capital Region, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Southern Tier and Western New York.  The announcement said that outdoor tables must be spaced six feet apart, all staff must wear face coverings and customers must also wear face coverings when not seated. Here’s the link to the announcement:  https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-outdoor-dining-restaurants-will-be-permitted-phase-two-reopening.
 
For purposes of the State’s reopening plan, Albany County is part of an eight county region whose progress in meeting the State’s metrics for advancing to the next phase is monitored by the Capital Region’s control room.  As with Phase 1, there appears to be no written guidance for the regional control room’s monitoring of Phase 2 (https://forward.ny.gov/members-regional-control-rooms).  And, as we learned last week, the State has relied upon global expert review of data for deciding each region’s advancement to Phase 2.  There is no indication yet of what data or which entity will decide whether the Capital Region is ready to enter, in two weeks, Phase 3 which allows for the reopening of restaurants and food services (https://forward.ny.gov/phase-three-industries).
 
As we start the Capital Region’s Phase 2 reopening, State and County officials have urged compliance with minimum physical separation and face masks.  The Governor’s Executive Order No. 202.34 authorized local businesses to deny entry and service to customers who, unless they have a medical exemption, refuse to wear a face mask.  When Town buildings and services are open with limited public access on Monday, June 15th under the Town’s Moving Forward Plan, the Town will require the wearing of face masks.  
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor
 
 
Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that the cumulative number of positive cases today was 1,747 persons, an increase of 10 persons.  There were no new hospitalizations, which left 21 hospitalized persons, a drop of four persons.  One person remains in the ICU.  There are now 769 persons now in mandatory quarantine and six persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that, as of today, 4,614 people have completed quarantine, including 1,363 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.  
 
In his daily press briefing, the Governor confirmed that all relevant data showed the State’s control over the spread of the virus.   The COVID-19’s daily death toll was 58, which was the ninth consecutive day below 100 deaths, is likely lower than other natural causes.  The Governor also noted that the 154 new hospitalizations was dramatically lower, and a key indicator that the State was making great strides in fighting the virus.  He reiterated the proven benefits of physical separation and face masks.  The Governor announced that summer day camps could reopen on June 29th and that the State had not yet decided on the fate of sleep-away camps.     
 
On Wednesday, June 3rd from 11am to Noon, Assemblyperson Patricia Fahy and State Senator Rachel May are hosting a virtual town hall on proposed legislation to create the Works Progress Administration-Pandemic Recovery Act, a short-term public jobs and works program aimed at getting the unemployed back to work.  For more information about participants and joining the meeting, please visit Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/529951947673340/ or Zoom at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81622338588.
 
The Governor and County Executive confirmed today that the Capital Region would tomorrow enter Phase 2 of the State’s four phase reopening plan of the local economy.  Phase 2’s businesses include Office-Based Work; Real Estate; Essential and Phase II Retail Business; Vehicle Sales, Leases, and Rentals; Retail Rental, Repair and Cleaning; Commercial Building Management; and Hair Salons and Barbershops.  Here’s the link to the State’s Phase 2 webpage:  https://forward.ny.gov/phase-two-industries.   
 
But it is not that simple.  For each listed business, there are guidelines which contain further restrictions including that “Essential and Phase II In-Store Retail” does not include indoor common portions of retail shopping malls with more than 100,000 square feet of leasable space which remain closed except for stores with direct outdoor access like strip malls.  And while “Hair Salons and Barbershops” are allowed to reopen, the six pages of mandatory and recommended best practices guidelines for this activity states that “[t]his guidance does not apply to nail salons, tattoo parlors, or any other non-haircutting-related personal care services or activities, including but not limited to: beard trimming, nose hair trimming, facials, manicures/pedicures, makeup application, threading, tweezing, or waxing.”  
 
A few quick observations about the ban on “non-haircutting-related personal care services”: Aren’t beards made of hair so why is “beard trimming” prohibited as “non-haircutting”?  Don’t some people have more hair on their chin than their head anyway?  Since eyebrows are hair, then why is “threading” barred (I think that’s what it is)?  I’m not saying anything about the ban on “nose hair trimming.”  I’m sure that you get the point.  
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor
 
 
Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health provided data for both today and yesterday which was not available because of other pressing issues.  The County reported that the cumulative number of positive cases was 1,711 on Sunday, and today was at 1,737.  On Sunday, there were 26 people in the hospital, and by today, the number was now 25 persons.  As of today, there is one person in the ICU.  There were 748 persons yesterday and 750 persons now in mandatory quarantine.  There were seven persons in precautionary quarantine on both days.  The County noted that, as of today, 4,611 people have completed quarantine, including 1,359 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.  
 
County Executive Daniel P. McCoy stated that “based on the Capital Region Control Room call this morning and the data we’re seeing, I’m confident we will be able to move into Phase 2 of reopening the economy on Wednesday. The number of people tested continues to go up while the percent positive cases continues to go down.  In less than a week, we had tested an additional 3,000 people and our positive rate has dropped down to 7.5%.” 
 
In his daily press briefing, the Governor confirmed that the State was on a slow and steady decline and that health officials were focusing upon several hotspots in certain areas.  Like with other days over the past two weeks, there were continuing overnight declines in new admissions, hospitalizations, and intubations.  The State’s overnight death toll of 54 was the lowest since the start of the pandemic, and the eighth consecutive day below 100.  The Governor also announced that, on average, 50,000 residents were being tested each day and that the State’s rate of positive cases was 2%, well-below rates in the first few weeks of the pandemic.
 
The Governor also reaffirmed that the Capital Region was “on track to enter Phase II Wednesday.” He indicated that “global experts,” who have experience with reopening in other countries, would review the data to confirm the region’s rate of infection was in decline.   The Western New York region should be entering Phase II tomorrow.  The Governor again noted that New York City would reopen in Phase I next Monday, June 8th.   
 
As the State’s reopening plan advances, there has been a return to unoccupied large buildings such as schools, libraries, offices, hotels, and businesses where there has been little or no water use or circulation for an extended period.  The lack of regular circulating water can result in stagnated water with diminished chlorine levels, and the growth of dangerous and harmful bacteria.  To remedy this situation, the Water Department recommends inspecting water systems for leaks and functionality, the flushing of cold and hot water systems for each tap, and other recommended steps: https://www.townofguilderland.org/department-water-wastewater.
 
Community Caregivers, Inc. has served the needs of seniors in our community for 25 years.  This ongoing pandemic, which has caused many seniors to hibernate, has placed a greater demand for its services, including shopping for groceries, picking up-prescriptions, and reassurance calls.  You can help its mission by considering donating at: https://www.communitycaregivers.org/
 
Not surprisingly, with this weekend’s fine weather, the Western Turnpike Golf Course was fully booked with reserved tee times, and all single-person golf carts were being used.  The course has started league play, resumed giving individual golf lessons today, and will start with small group adult clinics tomorrow.  The Nines at Western Turnpike has a takeout menu for lunches and dinners (https://sites.google.com/view/the-nines-at-western-turnpike/menus?authuser=0).  The course, which is open daily at 8am, requires a reserved tee time and commitment to following its COVID-19 guidelines: https://www.westernturnpike.com/.
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor
 
 
Dear Guilderland residents:
 
Today’s daily press briefing by County Executive Dan McCoy included Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and County Sheriff Craig Apple, Jr. and focused upon overnight damage to dozens of local businesses, county and city offices, and an Albany police substation and vehicles by rioters.   The damage followed peaceful demonstrations earlier in the day protesting the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in Minneapolis police custody.   No COVID-19 data was provided at the press conference.  The County’s dashboard of COVID-19 data and statistics is updated each evening: https://legacy.livestories.com/s/v2/covid-19-dashboard-albany-county-ny/dabd57f3-5285-4666-97fc-53c5bf4b8560/.
 
In his daily press briefing, the Governor confirmed that the State was making “tremendous progress” in controlling the spread of the virus.  This slow but steady decline over the past month stands in stark contrast with the steep incline in late March and into April.  There were overnight declines in new admissions, hospitalizations, and intubations, and the State’s overnight death toll of 56 lives lost was the lowest since the start of the pandemic, and was the seventh day in a row with daily death tolls below 100.  Sixty days ago, the State’s daily death toll exceeded 800.  
 
The State’s four phase reopening process has caused unfortunate confusion over the past few days as regions advance at different paces.  It did not help that there have been apparent changes in how a region is evaluated before progressing to the next phase.  The State has issued guidelines and exceptions that are not easily summarized or explained, and are often updated with little notice.  To help businesses navigate through this regulated process, the State has now launched an online search tool by which each business can look up reopening requirements by county and business type.  Here’s the link:  https://www.businessexpress.ny.gov/app/nyforward.
 
In yet another return to normalcy, the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles announced that starting tomorrow its offices in Albany County and in a handful of other counties will resume processing vehicle registrations and other transactions by mail, and starting Thursday, June 4th, the local office will accept transactions through secure drop boxes.  For more information about services offered, please visit: https://dmv.ny.gov/more-info/dmv-reopening-guidance.
 
As we await news on whether our local economy will enter Phase 2 of reopening on Wednesday, our local businesses, most of which are owned and operated by Town residents, continue to need our support.  During the shutdown, the Guilderland Chamber of Commerce has provided a small business hub for businesses where you can order gift cards for future use, place delivery and takeout orders, and curbside pickup (https://www.guilderlandchamber.com/guilderland-small-business-hub/).   You can also support local restaurants during these extremely difficult economic times by taking advantage of an online directory of Guilderland restaurants that are open for takeout and delivery:  https://issuu.com/our_towne/docs/guilderland_take-out_guide.  
 
Before this pandemic, the Guilderland Food Pantry has provided food and household goods to persons in need in our community.  COVID-19’s devastating impact on the economy has greatly increased food insecurity.  Please help by donating at https://guilderlandfoodpantry.com/donate/ or by mail at P.O. Box 7, Guilderland, NY 12084.
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor
 
 
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 1,688 confirmed cases, an increase of two persons in the past 24 hours.  There are now 20 persons hospitalized, a decline of seven persons since yesterday, and three persons in the intensive care unit. There are now 682 persons under mandatory quarantine and six persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 4,510 people have completed quarantine, including 1,340 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.  
 
While there were no deaths overnight, the County’s death toll increased to 111 deaths because 24 deaths had been reported to the State DOH but not to County DOH.   After 11 unreported deaths were disclosed yesterday, County Health Commissioner Elizabeth Whalen contacted each nursing home and uncovered the additional deaths at three private nursing homes.  Because the deaths had been timely reported to the State, this tragic number will have no impact upon the Capital Region’s metrics for reopening. 
 
In his daily press briefing, the Governor confirmed that the data showed that the State was making “great progress” in controlling COVID-19’s infection rate with overnight declines in new admissions, hospitalizations, and intubations. The State’s overnight death toll was 67, the lowest since the start of the pandemic, and the sixth consecutive day with daily death tolls below 100.   The Governor said that the Capital Region’s move into Phase 2 this coming Wednesday, was dependent upon “global experts” review of infection rate data.  He reaffirmed that New York City will open in Phase 1 on June 8th.   
 
It appears that the Governor’s issuance of Executive Order 202.35 will be the “ticket” for each region’s entry into the next phase of reopening.  In that Order, the Governor permitted five regions (Finger Lakes, Central New York, Mohawk Valley, Southern Tier, and North Country) to enter Phase 2.  The Order states that: “Any additional regions which meet the criteria after such date will be deemed to be incorporated into this Executive Order without further revision and will be permitted to re-open Phase two industries, subject to the same terms and conditions.”  
 
In Executive Order 202.34, the Governor empowered businesses to deny entry or remove a person who refuses to wear a mask or cloth face-covering.  Here’s the Order: 
 
Business operators and building owners, and those authorized on their behalf shall have the discretion to ensure compliance with the directive in Executive Order 202.17 (requiring any individual over age two, and able to medically tolerate a face-covering, be required to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face-covering when in a public place), including the discretion to deny admittance to individuals who fail to comply with the directive in Executive Order 202.17 or to require or compel their removal if they fail to adhere to such directive, and such owner or operator shall not be subject to a claim of violation of the covenant of quiet enjoyment, or frustration of purpose, solely due to their enforcement of such directive. Nothing in this directive shall prohibit or limit the right of State and local enforcement authorities from imposing fines or other penalties for any violation of the directive in Executive Order 202.17.  This directive shall be applied in a manner consistent with the American with Disabilities Act or any provision of either New York State or New York City Human Rights Law, or any other provision of law.
 
That’s one wordy paragraph.  And if you’re curious or really bored, but still please save it for a rainy day, here’s the link to the Governor’s growing collection of Executive Orders: https://www.governor.ny.gov/executiveorders.
 
There is no dispute that State DOH (https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/protect-yourself-and-your-family-coronavirus-covid-19) and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html) strongly recommend the wearing of face masks to control the spread of COVID-19.   The Town’s Medical Director and EMS Director also recommend strict enforcement of this guidance.  For these reasons, the Town will exercise the “discretion” in the Order by mandating it in the Town’s Moving Forward Plan, and will require visitors to wear face masks on entry to a Town building and while participating in services or activities unless a legal exception is applicable.  
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor
 
 
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 1,686 confirmed cases, an increase of 21 persons in the past 24 hours. There have been no deaths in the County in the past nine days.  There are now 27 persons hospitalized and three persons in the intensive care unit. There are now 682 persons under mandatory quarantine and six persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 4,461 people have completed quarantine, including 1,333 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.  
 
In his daily press briefing, the Governor confirmed that there were overnight drops in new admissions, hospitalizations, and intubations.  He noted that the drop in new admissions was particularly dramatic.  The State’s death toll at 67 was the lowest since the pandemic and below 100 for the fourth time in five days.  He announced a new dashboard showing COVID-19 trend lines:  https://covid19tracker.health.ny.gov/views/NYS-COVID19-Tracker/NYSDOHCOVID-19Tracker-DailyTracker?%3Aembed=yes&%3Atoolbar=no&%3Atabs=n.  The Governor said that experts had determined that five regions could now move to Phase 2.  He announced that New York City, the last of the ten regions to reopen, was on track for a Phase 1 reopening on June 8th.  
 
As of late yesterday afternoon, and just hours before the anticipated opening of Phase 2, the Governor announced that no region would be eligible. The Governor surprised many by stating that “international experts” would review data from Phase 1 before approving a move to Phase 2.  The very late notice caused anger and confusion for eager businesses in neighboring regions who had planned reopening today after being closed for nearly three months.  
 
Part of the confusion was the delayed issuance of the State’s written guidelines for Phase 2 reopening, similar to those provided for Phase 1.  When I looked last night it was not on the State’s website, but sometime overnight, the State posted detailed guidelines for Phase 2 businesses (https://forward.ny.gov/phase-two-industries).  Just before the Governor’s press briefing, the State’s website was again amended to change the description of businesses and now states that Phase 2 businesses include Offices; Real Estate; Essential and Phase II In-Store Retail; Vehicle Sales, Leases, and Rentals; Retail Rental, Repair and Cleaning; Commercial Building Management; and Hair Salons and Barbershops.  
 
To add to the growing confusion, the State also posted an announcement that, pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Orders, the following businesses remain closed:
 
  • Malls; specifically, any indoor common portions of retail shopping malls with 100,000 or more square feet of retail space available for lease; however, any stores located within shopping malls, which have their own external entrances open to the public, separate from the general mall entrance (e.g. strip malls), may open;
  • Dine-in and on-premise restaurant or bar service, excluding take-out or delivery for off-premise consumption;
  • Large gathering/event venues, including but not limited to establishments that host concerts, conferences, or other in-person performances or presentations in front of an in-person audience;
  • Gyms, fitness centers, and exercise classes, except for remote or streaming services;
  • Video lottery and casino gaming facilities;
  • Movie theaters, except drive-ins; and
  • Places of public amusement, whether indoors or outdoors, including but not limited to, locations with amusement rides, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, aquariums, zoos, arcades, fairs, children’s play centers, funplexes, theme parks, bowling alleys, family and children’s attractions.
This is far too complicated to decipher on a Friday afternoon.  And even if you could, it might change in the blink of an eye.  
 
If there is a silver-lining from this chaos, it could be that the Capital Region’s delayed Phase I reopening means that Phase 2 is not scheduled to start until next Wednesday, June 3rd.  By then, hopefully the State’s confusion should be resolved and our local economy will have a smooth transition to Phase 2.  County Executive McCoy said that as of today, the Capital Region has been meeting the State’s seven reopening metrics since Phase 1 started on May 20th.  
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor
 
 
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 1,665 confirmed cases, an increase of 21 persons in the past 24 hours.  There are now 29 persons hospitalized and three persons in the intensive care unit. There are now 615 persons under mandatory quarantine, a drop of 233 persons since yesterday, and seven persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 4,455 people have completed quarantine, including 1,319 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.  
 
There have been no deaths in the County in the past eight days.  However, there were 11 deaths at a private nursing home between April 29th and May 9th that were reported to the State DOH but not to the County DOH.  Those added deaths brings the County’s death toll to 87.  Because the deaths were reported to the State, they will not affect the metrics for the Capital Region’s reopening in Phase 2.   
 
In his daily press briefing, the Governor confirmed that the State was experiencing a continued decline in the spread of COVID-19, with overnight drops in new admissions, hospitalizations, and intubations. The State’s overnight death toll was 74 persons which was the fourth in the past five days with daily death tolls below 100.   The Governor reaffirmed that New York City, the only region not in Phase 1 of reopening, had not met the metrics for reopening.  The missing metrics include an insufficient capacity of hospital beds and contact tracers.  After reaffirming the effectiveness of facial masks in preventing the spread of the virus, the Governor stated that he will sign an Executive order which allows businesses to "deny entrance to people who do not wear a mask or a face covering."
 
An essential part of our fight against COVID-19 is the ability to trace exposure to the virus. Each region’s ability to perform contact tracing is one of the seven metrics which must be met for each phase of the reopening process.  The State launched the NYS Contact Tracing Program in which trained specialists reach out to persons who may have had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient.  If you are identified as a potential contact, you will get a call from “NYS Contact Tracing” (518-387-9993).  Because the virus can be spread by and to persons without symptoms, it is important that you answer the contact tracing call which is confidential and private.  
 
The State is still seeking contract tracers to help in this effort.   Here’s the link to an application and more information: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/new-york-state-contact-tracing
 
Our hot and mostly rain-free stretch of summer weather is more than welcomed but its arrival also brings summer water usage restrictions to handle increased demand.  Starting May 1st to September 15th, automatic lawn sprinkling is limited to 1:00am to 4:00am on odd numbered calendar days for odd numbered property addresses and on even numbered calendar days for even numbered property addresses.  Manually operated lawn or garden sprinklers are restricted to 6:30am to 8:00am and 6:30pm to 8:00pm on the same odd/even day and address numbering system.  There are no water restrictions on handheld watering of gardens for non-commercial purposes.  Here’s the link to the restrictions: https://www.townofguilderland.org/department-water-wastewater.
 
You might wonder why I am mentioning these restrictions in a daily COVID-19 update?  It is because this pandemic has kept more people home during the day which has greatly increased in-home use of water.  Before the pandemic, water usage peaked in early morning before plateauing at a low water usage for most of the day before rising again in the evening.  Now, with more people home, there is still a peak and leveling off in usage but at a much higher level.  Many residents also have filled swimming pools far earlier this year.  As a result, overall water usage has increased by over 20%.  Please help the Water Department maintain adequate pressure and high quality by adhering to the water restrictions.  
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor
 
 
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 1,644 confirmed cases, an increase of five persons in the past 24 hours.  There were no new hospitalizations overnight and there are now 27 persons hospitalized with three persons in the intensive care unit.  The County has seen no deaths from COVID-19 in the past week which left the death toll at 76.  There are now 848 persons under mandatory quarantine and seven persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 4,451 people have completed quarantine, including 1,227 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.
 
The County DOH also reported that, as of Monday, 22,032 county residents had been tested and that 8.1% had tested positive, a drop from 9.2% as of May 16th.   Persons in their 50s had the highest number of positive cases at 284 persons, followed by 270 persons in their 20s.  The 12203 zip code, which includes parts of Guilderland and Albany, had the highest number of positive cases at 238.  The County’s “dashboard” provides updated COVID-19 statistics: https://legacy.livestories.com/s/v2/covid-19-dashboard-albany-county-ny/dabd57f3-5285-4666-97fc-53c5bf4b8560/.
 
As we start the second week of the Capital Region’s Phase 1 reopening, Albany County’s declining death and hospitalization rates is consistent with proceeding to a Phase 2 reopening next Wednesday, June 3rd.   Please note that Albany County is part of an eight county region whose progress in meeting the State’s seven metrics for each phase is monitored by the Capital Region’s control room.  There appears to be no guidance on how each regional control room operates (https://forward.ny.gov/members-regional-control-rooms).  If Phase 1 is successfully completed, Phase 2 will allow the reopening of retail, professional services, administrative support, and real estate (rental & leasing) (https://forward.ny.gov/industries-reopening-phase).
 
In his daily press briefing, the Governor confirmed that, in contrast to the nation as a whole, the State’s statistics showed a continued decline in the spread of COVID-19, with overnight declines in new admissions, hospitalizations, intubations, and deaths. The overnight death toll of 74 persons was the fourth out of five days with deaths below 100.  The Governor remained focused on reviving the State’s economy with public works projects and major infrastructure improvements.  With today’s reopening of Phase 1 in the Long Island, New York City is the last region awaiting clearance to reopen.    
 
The Times-Union has a well-written article about the success of the County’s confidential program hotline which helps residents cope with the stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic.  https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/We-are-all-going-through-this-Albany-County-15295769.php.  If someone is experiencing mental or emotional distress, it is important to reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or a licensed and trained professional.  Please remember that if you are experiencing stress, anxiety or depression for any reason, the County’s Mental Health Support Line is answered every day from 8am to 8pm at (518) 269-6634.  If you or someone you know is experiencing a psychiatric emergency, please call the County’s Mobile Crisis Team at (518) 549–6500.
 
Over the past several days, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued several changes to its guidelines on preventing the spread of COVID-19.  Over the weekend, the CDC noted that the virus “does not spread easily” by touching a contaminated surface.  In admitting that this statement was “confusing,” CDC amended the guidelines yesterday to state that “it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about how this virus spreads.” (emphasis in the original).  Here’s the link to CDC’s updated guidance on how COVID-19 spreads: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-covid-spreads.html
 
This restated guidance highlights the importance of limiting personal contacts by minimum six-foot physical separations and wearing a face mask if the required distance is not possible.  It is strongly recommended to have a face mask with you at all times to be ready for those unanticipated interactions. 
 
If you are looking for something fun to do, the Parks’ Department has a Parks & Trails Scavenger Hunt BINGO program which involves searching for clues, taking “selfies” at clue spots, and submitting them online for a raffle prize.  For more information, please check out the post on Parks & Recreation’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Guilderland-Parks-Recreation-632392183890423/posts/?ref=page_internal.
 
Not surprisingly, with the recent heat, the Parks Department is getting lots of inquiries from residents about this year’s opening of the Tawasentha Pool.  We are planning to open the pool but it’s opening date is dependent on the County DOH which must inspect and certify the pool every year.  State DOH may also have its own pool opening and operating requirements because of COVID-19.   Because of the ongoing pandemic, the Tawasentha Pool and pool house will have new rules and restrictions, and different hours.  Please check the Parks & Recreation’s webpage for updates on the Tawasentha Pool:  https://www.townofguilderland.org/parks-recreation/pages/tawasentha-pool-information.
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

 
Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that, on a cumulative basis in the County, there are 1,639 confirmed cases, an increase of two persons in the past 24 hours.  There are now 32 persons hospitalized and three persons in the intensive care unit. There have been no deaths since Thursday which kept the County’s death toll at 76.  There are now 862 persons under mandatory quarantine and five persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 4,378 people have completed quarantine, including 1,200 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.  
 
As we start the second week of the Capital Region’s two-week Phase 1 reopening, County Executive Dan McCoy and Sheriff Craig Apple, Sr. emphasized the importance of residents and employees keeping a minimum six-foot physical distancing, wearing masks and avoiding large crowds.  The Sheriff noted that heroin related deaths are now outpacing COVID-19 deaths in the County for the first time in more than two months.   
 
In his daily press briefing, the Governor confirmed that the State was witnessing a continued decline in the spread of COVID-19, with overnight declines in new admissions, hospitalizations, intubations, and deaths. The State’s overnight death rate of 73 persons was the lowest in two months, and was the third in the last four days with daily death tolls below 100.  
 
The Governor’s stated focus today was on the State’s concerted efforts to revive the economy, including accelerating public works projects and major infrastructure improvements.  With today’s reopening of the Mid-Hudson region, and tomorrow’s anticipated restart on Long Island, New York City remains the last region to enter the Phase 1 reopening.  
 
As evidence of our continuing return to some degree of normalcy, the NYS Legislature convened for the first time since adopting the State budget in early April.  The legislature plans to consider and vote on bills through video-conferencing (https://nyassembly.gov/Press/files/20200522.php).   The New York Stock Exchange reopened its trading floor for the first time in two months.  The traders are urged to avoid public transportation and, upon entering, are subject to temperature checks, wearing a face mask, and keeping a six-foot separation (https://www.nyse.com/index).  
 
Not surprisingly, the Western Turnpike Golf Course had a banner holiday weekend with nearly all tee times reserved.  The course is operating under a modified schedule with increased tee times intervals, the use of single-occupant carts, and reserved tee times by calling (518) 456-0786 or booking online at https://www.westernturnpike.com/.  The pro shop, clubhouse and indoor facilities remain closed but on-course bathrooms are available.  The course strictly adheres to health guidelines which are also posted on the website.  The problem-free operation of the course does not happen by chance and is the result of the leadership of Parks Director CJ Gallup, Golf Professional Casey Childs and Golf Associate Joe Lavigna whose first and last concern is providing safe playing conditions and encouraging an enjoyable outing.  
 
While there were innumerable outdoor gatherings over the Memorial Day weekend, the Town received no complaints about large gatherings or the lack of adherence to health guidelines.  The same is true with businesses.  And while there have been a few emailed complaints, upon investigating, the Police Department found no reportable problems.  The Police have distributed thousands of facial masks for employees at open businesses and will continue with their regular daily visits to business establishments to share recommended health guidance for each phase of the reopening.  
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor
 
Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, Albany County Department of Health reported that, on a cumulative basis in the County, there have been 1,650 confirmed COVID-19 cases, an increase of six persons in the past 24 hours and 15 persons since Saturday.  There are now 28 persons hospitalized and two persons in the intensive care unit.  There have been no COVID-19 related deaths in five days which has kept the County’s death toll at 76.  There are now 900 persons under mandatory quarantine and five persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 4,261 people have completed quarantine, including 1,159 persons who had tested positive and have recovered. 
 
In his daily press briefing, the Governor announced declines in new admissions, hospitalizations, intubations, and deaths which showed a growing control over the spread of COVID-19.  The daily death toll of 96 was the second time in three days that the death toll was below 100 since the outbreak of the pandemic.  The Governor reaffirmed that summer school would be conducted through distance learning and that the State would issue guidelines in June about the fall semester to allow schools and colleges to submit operational plans for the State’s approval in July.  
 
In addition to announcing the reopening of veterinarian practices tomorrow, the Governor also announced yesterday that campgrounds and RV parks could open today.  Not to be too critical, but it would have helped if this news was shared before the start of the long weekend.  We are still awaiting the Governor’s determination on whether the Town can have a scaled-back summer recreation program and modified pool usage.  
 
As we start initial steps towards normal times, I would like to thank the hundreds of residents who have called, emailed, and written words of appreciation and suggestions for these daily updates.  I would never have thought that I’d write nearly eleven weeks of consecutive daily emails.  This reporting effort could not have been possible without the help of my secretary Jessica Montgomery who reviews for accuracy, and then, every day, including weekends and holidays, has posted each update on the website and emailed them to you.  
 
This year’s Memorial Day is unprecedented with no parades or large ceremonies but yet special for its more subdued remembrances.   Local veterans’ groups have held private gatherings and decorated gravesites with flags to remember and honor fallen heroes.  Please take a moment for quiet reflection for our departed loved ones.
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor
 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
County Executive Dan McCoy had no press conference today for the first time since the start of the pandemic on March 16th.  The County’s COVID-19 website and dashboard of statistics https://www.albanycounty.com/departments/health/coronavirus-covid-19  also were not updated today.  Both are expected to resume updating tomorrow.  It is a well-earned day off for the County Executive and his staff after more than two months of daily press briefings.  In the near future, I’ll likely change my daily email updates to less frequent, as-needed updates based upon news events.  
 
In his daily press briefing, the Governor announced declines in new admissions, hospitalizations, and intubations, but not the number of deaths, which had fallen to 84, and have increased to 109.  He stated that the Mid-Hudson region is on track to reopen in Phase 1 on Tuesday, with the Long Island Region likely to follow on Wednesday.  The Governor added that veterinarian practices would reopen State-wide on Tuesday.
 
The Governor is also allowing professional sports teams to resume spectator-less training camps subject to following health guidelines.  In my Eleventh Update back on March 21st, I jokingly noted that the NY Mets would be in first place (albeit tied) well into April.  I had no idea that this seemingly once-in-a-generation event would remain true for two more months, and would last past the unofficial start of summer.  
 
In his Executive Orders (34 as of today), which contain roughly 375 directives and sub-directives, the Governor has suspended, amended, or modified several hundreds of laws, all in response to the pandemic.  Nearly all of these actions happened with little or no input from the State legislature, the original source of these enacted laws.  As we begin the unwinding of the Governor’s State of Emergency, which will currently expire on Saturday, June 13th, we have the opportunity to consider whether certain suspended laws should be permanently ended or whether certain amendments should be continued or even expanded upon.   With nearly three months of sampling, there should be a better understanding of what has worked and what has not.  
 
For example, under Executive Order 202.3, bars and restaurants are allowed to sell alcohol with takeout or delivered food orders.  There is pending legislation to extend this permission for two years after the end of the State of Emergency.  Of particular importance to the Town is the fate of directives in Executive Orders which would allow medics to practice telemedicine and permit ambulances to transport to urgent care facilities and not hospitals.  These directives would likely require legislation for a more comprehensive response.  There are numerous other examples of actions impacting mental hygiene, education, penal, public health, labor, and other laws, all of which were altered for the benefit of residents.  This salutary goal should hopefully also apply in our post-pandemic world.   
 
Thank you for continuing to stay safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Saturday, May 23, 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 1,625 confirmed cases, an increase of six persons in the past 24 hours.  There are now 28 persons hospitalized and one person in the intensive care unit. There were no deaths overnight which kept the County’s death toll at 76.  There are now 906 persons under mandatory quarantine and three persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 4,187 people have completed quarantine, including 1,153 persons who had tested positive and have recovered. 
 
In his daily press briefing, the Governor announced continued declines in new admissions, hospitalizations, intubations, and deaths which showed a growing control over the spread of COVID-19.   The daily death toll of 84 was the lowest in nearly two months and far below the highest toll of 799 deaths on April 8.  The Governor noted that because the death rate is a lagging indicator, the drop to below 100 daily deaths was further proof that the State was witnessing a marked decline in the spread of COVID-19.   He also stated that the Mid-Hudson Valley was set to reopen in phase 1 on Tuesday, with Long Island likely to follow on Wednesday.
 
Yesterday, in a rare act, the Governor yielded a wee bit of his power by giving “final decisions about [Memorial Day] ceremonies … to local governments.”  While no prior notice was given for this late holiday notice, the Town announced plans to allow small backyard gatherings.  But, that local power was very fleeting, lasting a little over 12 hours, and ended last night with two Executive Orders Nos. 202.32 and 202.33.  Not to be too confusing, but Order 202.32’s life was brief, barely two hours, and was modified by Order 202.33, and possibly over threatened litigation by the American Civil Liberties Union.    
 
Executive Order No. 202.33 removes the limited permissions for religious gatherings and Memorial Day ceremonies “to permit any non-essential gathering of ten or fewer individuals, for any lawful purpose or reason, provided that social distancing protocols and cleaning and disinfection protocols required by the Department of Health are adhered to.” 
 
So, we’re back to what the Town had decided yesterday morning, which was to allow gatherings of 10 or fewer persons (don’t forget, the Order says that it must be for a “lawful purpose or reason”).  But please don’t cite this Order for excluding out-of-favor relatives from your gatherings.  The only difference in this year’s backyard barbeque might be adding a bottle or two of disinfectant to the family picnic table.  
 
Police officers and zoning inspectors are not census takers, and they have no interest in trying to figure out who, in a backyard pool, are members of a household, their relatives, or their unrelated guests.  These officers are professionals devoted to public safety which starts with educating the public and businesses about the importance of avoiding large gatherings, maintaining physical separation, wearing face masks when necessary, and using disinfectants.  Officers visit businesses and the occasional home in response to complaints but are far more interested in helping business owners, employees and residents about the importance of adhering to health guidelines.  
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Friday, May 22, 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 1,619 confirmed cases, an increase of 41 persons in the past 24 hours.  There are now 27 persons hospitalized and one person in the intensive care unit. There were no deaths overnight, but there were three deaths that were reported to State DOH but not to the County.  As a result, the County’s death toll is now 76.  There are now 907 persons under mandatory quarantine and three persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 4,101 people have completed quarantine, including 1,064 persons who had tested positive and have recovered. 
 
In his daily press briefing, the Governor announced positive updates in controlling the spread of COVID-19, with continued declines in new admissions, hospitalizations, intubations, and deaths. The Governor unveiled a new $100 million small business loan program, called New York Forward Loan Fund, to address the financial devastation caused by State-ordered closures of non-essential businesses.  He said that the program will provide affordable and flexible loans to businesses with fewer than 20 full-time equivalent employees and less than $3 million in gross revenues, nonprofits and small landlords that have seen a loss of rental income. The program is timed to support businesses and organizations as they reopen and have upfront expenses to comply with inventory, marketing, and refitting for new physical distancing guidelines.  Here’s the link to the program’s webpage: https://esd.ny.gov/economic-recovery-covid-19-loans-small-businesses.
 
After several days of the Phase 1 reopening, there have been no problems in Town with businesses complying with physical separation, face masks, and other requirements imposed by the State.  Only a handful of reminders have taken place.  The same is true for private gatherings in homes and in backyards.  Please remember that gatherings of more than 10 persons are not allowed, and we should all be keeping six-foot separations and donning masks when that separation is not possible.  With superb weather predicted, and more reasons to be outside, I’d recommend having a face mask with you for those increasingly likely interactions with neighbors and friends.  
 
The Guilderland Farmers’ Market’s online market has continued to grow, and now includes 20 vendors offering a wide variety of food, crafts, and special gifts for pickup at the Star Plaza parking lot.  Your purchases help support local farmers, artisans, and their families.  Here’s the link: https://www.guilderlandfarmersmarket.com/online-market.  A sampling of available items includes fresh honey, smoked chicken, grilled salmon, natural soaps, maple products, tie dyed face masks, candles, and much more. You now have until 11pm on Friday (that’s today, if you’re like me, and these days are indistinguishable) for a pick-up on Sunday between Noon and 1:30pm.  For pick-up, you stay in your vehicle as your prepaid order is delivered to your vehicle.  More details about the vendors, ordering and pickup are on the website.  
 
As its first in-person public event at Town Hall in nearly three months, on Monday, June 15th from Noon to 6pm, the Town is hosting a blood drive, sponsored by the American Red Cross and Stewart's Shops, in the Town Board meeting room at Town Hall.  The event is by appointment only, and there will be a marked side door for entry to the building.  At this “Give a Pint, Get a Pint” event, each blood donor will receive a voucher for a prepackaged pint of ice cream or gelato at any Stewart's Shop.  To make an appointment, please call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit https://www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/find-drive and use the sponsor code: guilderlandtown.   You can expedite the donating process by visiting https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/manage-my-donations/rapidpass.html to complete a Rapid Pass which provides pre-donation reading and health history questions.  
 
Since the outset of this pandemic, Parks staff has kept open and maintained all of the Town’s   parks, open spaces, and trail system.  Tennis courts, ball fields, basketball courts, volleyball court, and golf course have remained open for use by following physical separation and face mask wearing guidelines.  I thank residents for adhering to these health guidelines and for your continued diligence during the holiday weekend.
 
On this Memorial Day weekend, please take time to remember the uniformed women and men who have served our nation and community in the past and are continuing to do so today.  Throughout this crisis, I have relied upon the professional advice by our Medical Director, Police Chief, and EMS Director, and have seen the immeasurable benefits to our Town by having well-trained and peer-respected dispatchers, police officers, firefighters, medics, and EMTs who are dedicated to serving and protecting our community.  
 
Thank you for continuing to stay safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

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

 

Wednesday, May 20, 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 1,552 confirmed cases, an increase of 71 persons in the past 24 hours.  There were two deaths overnight which raised the County’s death toll to 72.  The County estimates that 65% of the deaths have come from nursing homes.  There are now 27 persons hospitalized and one person in the intensive care unit.  There are now 847 persons under mandatory quarantine and five persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 3,943 people have completed quarantine, including 1,026 persons who had tested positive and have recovered. 
 
In his daily press briefing, the Governor announced positive updates in controlling the spread of COVID-19, with continued declines in new admissions, hospitalizations, intubations, and deaths.  He emphasized that healthcare workers, transit workers, medics and EMTs, and police officers have infection rates lower than the general public because of these professionals’ strict adherence to wearing masks. The Governor urged continued compliance with wearing facial masks and keeping six-foot separations as we start the phased resumption of more business activities.  
 
The Governor confirmed that today is the first day of the Capital Region’s phased reopening of the local economy, starting with select retail delivery, curbside, and in-store pick-up service, manufacturing, construction, wholesale trade, agriculture, forestry, and fishing.  Here’s the link: https://forward.ny.gov/industries-reopening-phase.  
 
Each of these allowed Phase 1 categories has more expansive descriptions.  For example, delivery, curbside and in-store pick-up service is only for the following businesses: 
 
Clothing Stores, Direct Selling Establishments; Electronics and Appliance Stores; Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses; Furniture and Home Furnishing Stores; Florists; General Merchandise Stores; Health and Personal Care Stores; Jewelry, Luggage, and Leather Goods Stores; Lawn and Garden Equipment and Supplies Stores; Office Supplies, Stationery, and Gift Stores; Used Merchandise Stores; Shoe Stores; Sporting Goods, Hobby, Musical Instrument and Book Stores; and Other Miscellaneous Store Retailers
 
The Governor also outlined additional guidelines for retail businesses in Phase 1:  
 
Retail Business Owners - Curbside Pickup
 
  • Employee and purchaser in vehicle must wear a mask, gloves preferred
  • Hand sanitizer must be made available
Retail Business Owners - In-Store Pickup
 
  • Requires ordering ahead - pre-arranged orders
  • Social distancing required in store
  • No more than 50 percent of maximum occupancy
  • Patrons must wear masks
  • Store employees must wear masks, gloves preferred
  • Hand sanitizer must be made available
The Governor also added that religious gatherings with not more than 10 persons could resume on Thursday if participants maintain minimum six-foot separation and wear facial masks.
 
We are working on the Town’s resumption of business plan which should take effect at the expiration of the State of Emergency on June 13th. The plan will allow for limited public access to Town buildings and facilities under strict conditions, and a re-imagined summer recreation program.   
 
Since the pandemic’s start, Town functions have been limited to “essential” services which, with the change in weather, will allow the return to work of more Town employees on a regular basis.  For example, road maintenance has been an “essential” service but this year’s paving could only recently begin with the opening of the plants.   As a result, starting next week, the Highway Department will be at full staffing for the first time in more than two months.  Water & Sewer and Parks & Recreation are also returning to full staffing to handle maintenance and other important issues.  Senior Services will also resume transportation for groceries and medical appointments.
 
Thank you for continuing to stay safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Tuesday, May 19, 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 1,481confirmed cases, an increase of three persons in the past 24 hours.  There are now 30 persons hospitalized and three persons in the intensive care unit.  There was one death overnight which raised the County’s death toll to 70.  There are now 764 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. 
 
County DOH reported a surge in the infection rate for residents in their 20’s, with 254 confirmed cases, which was closing in on the top rate held by residents in their 50s with 263 confirmed cases.  As testing has increased, with 17,226 County residents tested as of yesterday, the percentage of positive cases at 9.2% or 1,579 residents had declined.  Here’s the link to the County’s dashboard:  https://legacy.livestories.com/s/v2/covid-19-dashboard-albany-county-ny/dabd57f3-5285-4666-97fc-53c5bf4b8560/.
 
In his daily press briefing, the Governor announced positive updates in controlling the spread of COVID-19, with continued declines in new admissions, hospitalizations, intubations, and deaths.   He confirmed that the Capital Region had met the seven metrics for a phased reopening tomorrow including  construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, and curbside service by certain retail businesses.  Here’s a link describing the businesses and other activities opening in each of the four phases: https://forward.ny.gov/industries-reopening-phase.  You’ll see that, for some reason, the lists of allowed retail in the first phase and activities in subsequent phases are very specific.
 
On very short notice yesterday, more than a dozen Town employees answered the County’s call for contact tracers which helped the Capital Region meet the last metric for the phased reopening of the local economy.   I thank my fellow Town workers for helping our community.  With continued adherence to health guidelines, including regular handwashing, maintaining minimum six-foot physical separation, and wearing face masks in public settings, there should be no spike in new COVID-19 cases and no need for the growing army of contact tracers.
 
On Thursday, May 21st from 4:00pm to 6:00pm, the Guilderland Teacher’s Association is hosting a food drive-thru in the Guilderland Public Library’s parking lot.  The non-perishable goods will be donated to the Regional Food Bank.  The following are the items of greatest need:
 
Canned Vegetables         Canned/Plastic-Jarred Sauce         Toothpaste 
Peanut Butter                   Boxed Mac-N-Cheese                    Toothbrush
Pasta                               Canned Chicken                              Soap
Canned Tuna                   Spaghetti O's                                   Deodorant
 
The Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has an online survey on how COVID-19 related stay-at-home orders are affecting the quality of sleep, psychological health, and other impacts caused by changes in exposures to artificial and natural light.  You can take the 10-minute anonymous survey and also learn more about the health benefits of natural light here:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Light_Exposures_and_Health.
 
Thank you for continuing to stay safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Monday, May 18, 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 1,478 confirmed cases, an increase of 23 persons in the past 24 hours.  There are now 29 persons hospitalized and five persons in the intensive care unit. There was one death overnight which raised the County’s death toll to 69.  There are now 827 persons under mandatory quarantine and six persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 3,885 people have completed quarantine, including 995 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.  
 
At a conference call this morning with municipal leaders, County Executive McCoy confirmed that the first phase of the Capital Region’s reopening would start tomorrow or Wednesday, with the only remaining issue of providing State DOH with the names and contact information for the required number of tracers.  The County is asking municipalities to request that employees who are staying at home to become tracers, which requires a four-hour online training course with tracing work performed from home.  
 
The State has a webpage for residents to learn more about the State’s contact tracing program:  https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/get-involved-how-you-can-help.  The County has link where residents can apply online: https://careers-pcgus.icims.com/jobs/5244/contact-tracer/job?mobile=true&width=375&height=553&bga=true&needsRedirect=false&jan1offset=-300&jun1offset=-240.
 
In his daily press briefing, the Governor again shared positive updates on curbing the spread of COVID-19, with continued declines in new admissions, hospitalizations, intubations, and deaths.   He confirmed that the Capital Region would soon meet the remaining metric of required tracers for phase one reopening in the near future.  The first phase (https://forward.ny.gov/industries-reopening-phase) includes construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, and curbside service by the following types of retail businesses:
  • Clothing Stores
  • Direct Selling Establishments
  • Electronics and Appliance Stores
  • Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses
  • Furniture and Home Furnishing Stores
  • Florists
  • General Merchandise Stores
  • Health and Personal Care Stores
  • Jewelry, Luggage, and Leather Goods Stores
  • Lawn and Garden Equipment and Supplies Stores
  • Office Supplies, Stationery, and Gift Stores
  • Used Merchandise Stores
  • Shoe Stores
  • Sporting Goods, Hobby, Musical Instrument and Book Stores
  • Other Miscellaneous Store Retailers
The Governor also urged sports teams to start planning for holding games with no persons in attendance.  
 
The Governor stated that the State’s capacity for diagnostic testing had reached 40,000 tests per day, and encouraged eligible New Yorkers to visit a new website to find nearby testing sites: coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-testing.  The criteria for diagnostic testing were expanded to include residents who are returning to work in phase one of the State's reopening plan.  During Sunday’s press conference, the Governor showed how easy it is to be tested by subjecting himself to a live test:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nk_4CxBaITU&feature=youtu.be.
 
Last Friday, the Assessor posted the Town’s 2020 Tentative Assessment Roll on the Assessor’s webpage: https://www.townofguilderland.org/assessors-office.  It is a massive document, totaling 3,178 pages, which uses the State-mandated taxable status date of March 1st, and, because of last year’s revaluation, maintains a uniform percentage and equalization rate of 100%.  The second number could help Town residents with property tax bills by school districts, fire districts etc. whose boundaries extend into other towns.  
 
As you may recall, the Governor’s Executive Order allowed extended dates for steps in the grievance process and will require changes, to be announced, on how proceedings are conducted by the Board of Assessment Review (BAR).  If you have questions about the grievance process, the Assessor’s Office can be reached by email at assessors@togny.org or phone at (518) 356-1980, on weekdays between 10am and 2pm until June 17th, and on evenings and weekends listed on the webpage.  The grievance forms, which are available on the Assessor’s webpage, require an owner’s original signature and may be submitted via email, fax or mail.  The signed grievance form must be received by the BAR prior to 8:00pm on Thursday, June 18th.  The BAR will hear cases by appointment only on June 18th from 8:30am to 1:00pm and 5:30pm to 8:00pm under soon-to-be announced COVID-19-related procedures.  
 
Thank you for continuing to stay safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that, on a cumulative basis in the County, there are 1,455 confirmed cases.  The five-day average of daily new positive cases is now down to 16.  There were no new hospitalizations overnight leaving 29 persons hospitalized and six persons in the intensive care unit.  There was also no change in the County’s death toll which remains at 62.  There were also no changes in quarantine numbers which remain at 852 persons in mandatory quarantine and six persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 3,795 people have completed quarantine, including 974 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.  
 
In his daily press briefing, the Governor announced that State’s COVID-19 data, including hospitalizations, new admissions, intubations and deaths, continued to decline.  He also stated that, based on changes in the relevant timelines for hospitalizations and deaths, the Capital Region was poised to reopen with Phase 1 which allows construction, manufacturing, and curbside retail pickup.  He noted that the only remaining item was working with the Capital Region’s counties on the “administrative” issue of retaining more contact tracers.   
 
County Executive McCoy released the region’s reopening plan, called Capital Region Forward, which was approved by the Capital Region Control Room.  The plan provides uniform guidelines for businesses and the general public for Phase 1 of the reopening process.  Here’s the link to the plan:  https://www.albanycounty.com/departments/health/coronavirus-covid-19.
 
NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation (OPRHP) is developing a plan to guide the future development of a State-wide system of non-motorized multi-use trails. Once finalized and adopted, the Statewide Greenways Plan will guide the development of trails across the State.   NYS Parks will soon start soliciting public comment and schedule public information sessions.  Parks & Trails New York, a non-profit, is soliciting input by completing a survey on amenities and features desired in the future greenway:  https://www.ptny.org/our-work/support/nys-greenways-plan.
 
I am pleased to announce that UAlbany Planning’s Graduate Studio has completed its project of mapping, researching, and providing recommendations for non-motorized connections among neighborhoods, parks, schools, libraries, and businesses.  Because of the pandemic, the students were unable to provide a public presentation of the work.  They did produce a voiceover that it being added to the final report.  Planning Department staff is now updating the maps, adding GIS elements, and reviewing the draft.  The final report should be posted on the Town website in June.
 
In case you missed it, over the weekend, golf again became an “essential” business.  Here is the link to the new guidance (scroll down to “13. Recreation”): https://esd.ny.gov/guidance-executive-order-2026.  As you may recall, for a very brief time golf was “essential,” then abruptly shut down, and then quickly revived in a very restricted format.  
 
But now, and I’m not sure why these changes are often announced on a Saturday afternoon, the Empire State Development (ESD) again declared that golf and driving ranges were “essential,” conditioned upon physical distancing and disinfecting standards.  This guidance will allow Western Turnpike Golf Course to soon offer additional services including the pro shop, food and beverages, and use of single-person carts.   Please visit the course’s website for the latest guidelines:  https://www.westernturnpike.com/.
 
But, alas, ESD was not kind to miniature golf which was expressly excluded and remains closed.  In the same guidance, ESD determined that only “non-motorized boat use and rentals, such as rowboats, kayaks, and canoes” are allowed.  And you might have missed it, but ESD’s guidance also stated that “essential” retail includes “in regions that are not within the first phase of the state's regional reopening plan, delivery for orders placed remotely via phone or online at non-essential retail establishments; provided, however, that only one employee is physically present at the business location to fulfill orders.”  For two months now, I had thought the Governor’s 31 Executive Orders were the most important pronouncements but I’m beginning to realize that our return to normalcy is being guided by a somewhat obscure agency.     
 
Thank you for staying calm and safe.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Saturday, May 16, 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 1,451 confirmed cases, and that there are now 30 persons hospitalized and seven persons in the intensive care unit (ICU).  There was one death overnight which raised the County’s death toll to 62.  There are now 852 persons under mandatory quarantine and six persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 3,727 people have completed quarantine, including 957 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.  
 
In his daily press briefing, the Governor emphasized that, as the State reopens, there will likely be an increase in COVID-19 cases but, with strict adherence to protocols, there should not be a spike or a reversal in the phased reopening.   He also noted the growing State deficit, and the immediate need for federal funding to avoid substantial cuts in State aid to schools, libraries, and local governments.  
 
As of today, the Capital Region fails to meet two of the seven metrics regarding hospitalizations and deaths.  Here’s the regional table: https://forward.ny.gov/regional-monitoring-dashboard.  The Governor said that State and County DOH were discussing how nursing homes, which have a large impact on these metrics, should be used in the calculations.  If nursing homes were not included, the Capital Region would meet the seven metrics and allow for the first phase reopening of construction, manufacturing, and curbside retail. 
 
If you would like to read more on how the Capital Region is doing with the metrics and learn more about the regional reopening process, the Capital District Regional Planning Commission has a very useful and regularly updated webpage: https://cdrpc.org/reopening-of-new-york-business-guidelines?mc_cid=4b4816cac0&mc_eid=e32f83fcaf.
 
As our weather warms, and more people are outdoors, the County DOH continues to express concern that young adults are not taking adequate precautions to avoid the spread of the virus.  The County’s dashboard showed that the 20-29 age group had the second highest number of COVID-19 cases.   Here’s the link: https://legacy.livestories.com/s/v2/covid-19-dashboard-albany-county-ny/dabd57f3-5285-4666-97fc-53c5bf4b8560/.  This data suggested that this younger age group was asymptomatic or had mild symptoms, and was spreading the virus, and urged everyone to follow guidelines including regular hand washing, donning masks, staying at least six-feet apart, and staying home whenever possible. 
 
State DOH have asked that residents be aware of COVID-19 related cases which appear similar to Kawasaki disease and toxic shock-like syndrome and has afflicted nearly 110 children, with three tragic deaths of children.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has asked the State DOH to propose a plan for responding to this syndrome.  Here are the known symptoms:  
 
  • Prolonged fever (more than five days)
  • Difficulty feeding (infants) or is too sick to drink fluids
  • Severe abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting
  • Change in skin color - becoming pale, patchy and/or blue
  • Trouble breathing or is breathing very quickly
  • Racing heart or chest pain
  • Decreased amount or frequency in urine
  • Lethargy, irritability or confusion
If you find one or more symptoms present in a child, you should immediately seek medical assistance.  
 
With Town facilities closed at least until June 13th because of the extension of the State of Emergency by both the State and the Town, your best way to contact Town departments is by phone, email or mail, as noted on the Town website. And while there, please sign up for Town emails and Nixle notices including daily updates about the Town’s response to COVD-19 and reopening plans at www.townofguilderland.org/subscribe
 
I had the opportunity again to watch Heather Weinhold, the Town’s Marriage Officer, perform another wedding ceremony in the Town Hall courtyard.   All COVID-19 related guidelines were followed.  This ceremony was different with everyone wearing white casual clothes because bridal and formal attire stores are closed.  This time, the sun was bright with no rain, and once again, everyone looked delighted.  It is good to see that this pandemic can’t stop among the most important and cherished government services.   
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Friday, May 15, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 1,425 confirmed cases, and that there are now 29 persons hospitalized and six persons in the intensive care unit.  There was one death from the virus overnight which increased the County’s death toll at 67.  There are now 852 persons under mandatory quarantine and 16 persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 3,646 people have completed quarantine, including 936 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.  
 
In his daily press daily briefing, Governor Cuomo stated that today’s data continued to show steady progress in reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, including declines in new daily admissions, intubations, and deaths.  He noted that there was slight uptick in the number of hospitalizations.  The Governor announced that today was the partial reopening of the economy in five of the State’s ten regions including Central New York, Mohawk Valley, Southern Tier, North Country and Finger Lakes.  The first phase of reopening allows the resumption of construction, manufacturing, wholesale businesses and curbside retail pickup.  The Governor stated that New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Delaware were allowing the opening of beaches starting the Friday of the Memorial Day weekend, and that local municipalities could do the same, but all beach openings are subject to specific health requirements.
 
As of today, the Capital Region is meeting five of the seven metrics but not satisfying metrics for daily hospital deaths and total net hospitalizations (https://forward.ny.gov/regional-monitoring-dashboard).  There is some disagreement among the counties, NYS DOH, and the Governor’s Office on how these mathematical measurements should be taken and how people are counted if they reside outside the area.  If you are interested, this Times Union article provides a recap:   https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Cuomo-aide-Capital-Region-can-t-begin-reopening-15271261.php.   The Governor said that other regions, including the Capital Region, could open at any time if they meet the seven metrics.
The County DOH continues to urge residents to consider testing for the virus.  Priority 1 Urgent Care in Hamilton Square, here in Guilderland, is offering tests for COVID-19 by using both PCR (Nasopharyngeal Swab) and Serum Antibody IgG (Blood) testing. You can arrange for the testing by calling (518) 867-8040 for screening of symptoms and an appointment.
 
Today, I signed a second extension of the State of Emergency which will keep Town buildings closed to the public until at least June 13th, consistent with the Governor’s latest Executive Order as discussed below.  We will soon announce a Town “Resumption of Business Plan” which will gradually reopen Town buildings to the public in phases by first limiting access to appointment only, setting capacity limits, and establishing protocols for entering the building.  This plan will be revised based upon updated health guidance and best practices seen in other municipalities.  For example, last evening, “unofficial” CDC guidance (64 pages) was released with recommendations on opening summer camps, public gatherings, and other special situations.   
 
Late last night, the Governor issued Executive Order 202.31 which extended the State’s “On Pause” until May 28th, subject to the phased regional reopening and also extended his emergency powers to June 13th.   The Order also suspends Penal Law 240.35(4) which states that being “masked” in a “public place” could be a violation.  The Order addresses concerns of some law-abiding residents that who will never feel right entering a bank while wearing a mask.  
 
But, what I found curious is that Penal Law 240.35(4) also says that a “masquerade party” is not loitering but only if it “held in a city” with a regulation requiring that “permission is first obtained from the police ….”  I just never knew that a pre-pandemic “masquerade party” in the Town might be loitering or that you would need police permission.  
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that, on a cumulative basis, there are 1,398 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and that there are now 30 persons hospitalized and four persons in the intensive care unit.  There were tragically four deaths from the virus overnight which raised the County’s death toll to 66.  There are now 889 persons under mandatory quarantine and 19 persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 3,351 people have completed quarantine, including 896 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.  
 
In his daily press daily briefing, Governor Cuomo stated that the data used to measure the spread of COVID-19 were good, with new daily admissions and intubations at levels before the pandemic, and that the number of COVD-19 deaths was below 200 for the fourth day in a row, and was continuing to decline.  He announced that Central New York would join the Mohawk Valley, Southern Tier, North  Country and Finger Lakes as regions which could start the first phase of reopening the economy by allowing construction, manufacturing, wholesale businesses and curbside retail pickup to resume tomorrow.  
 
According to the updated metrics table (https://forward.ny.gov/regional-monitoring-dashboard), the Capital Region is still missing two of the seven metrics including standards for daily hospital deaths and total net hospitalizations.   County Executive McCoy remains hopeful that the Capital Region will soon meet the metrics.  And while the first potential date for the phase one reopening is tomorrow, the region is also eligible to open on the following days if it meets the seven metrics. 
 
Here’s a reminder that you can support local farmers, crafts persons, and artists by shopping online at Guilderland Farmers’ Market:  https://www.guilderlandfarmersmarket.com/online-market.   There are now 20 participating vendors.  To order for this Sunday’s pickup between Noon and 1:30pm at the Star Plaza parking lot, your order must be placed by 7pm tomorrow.
 
The U.S. Small Business Administration is urging small businesses and non-profits in our area to consider applying for the second round of Payment Protection Program loans which are intended to provide eight weeks of payroll and certain overhead expenses to keep workers employed.  The forgiveness of the loan is based on the retaining or rehiring employees while maintaining salaries and hours.  The loans have a 2-year maturity and an interest rate of 1%.  The application and information are available here:  https://www.sba.gov/document/sba-form-2483-paycheck-protection-program-borrower-application-form.
 
You might find of interest an article in The New York Times which supports what we are seeing here:  after a prolonged period of hibernation, people are more frequently leaving their homes:
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/05/12/us/coronavirus-reopening-shutdown.html?referringSource=articleShare.  The article reports on a nationwide survey based upon tracking the movement of 15 million phones and identifies “home” as where the device is most over time, and considers “staying home” as staying within 100 meters of that location.  The study estimates that, before the pandemic, the share of people staying home was about 20.7%.  From March 20th, when states started issuing stay at home guidance, until April 30th, when states began easing restrictions, the staying home share more than doubled to 43.8%.   As of last week, the estimated at home share nationwide had dropped to 36.1%.  In New York State, the at-home estimates were far more dramatic: pre-pandemic (23%); during more restrictive period (54%); and last week (46%).  
 
It is a roundabout effort to note that we are seeing the same experiences here (and likely far more soon with much improved weather).  In addition to the heavy usage of Town parks and golf course, the Town police have noticed more vehicles on the road and have begun more vigorous enforcement of vehicle and traffic regulations.  There has been an increase in inattentive driving and higher average speeds, likely due to still fewer vehicles on the road.  
 
Please remember to drive slowly and carefully, and be aware of the increased number of walkers, bikers, and children playing in the street.  We all know well that, in order to maintain six-foot separation, your neighbors could be on the wrong side of the street or moving to avoid contact.
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor 

 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 1,386 confirmed cases, and that there are now 31 persons hospitalized and seven persons in the intensive care unit.  There was one death from the virus overnight which increased the County’s death toll to 62.  There are now 881 persons under mandatory quarantine and 19 persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 3,471 people have completed quarantine, including 867 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.  
 
In his daily press briefing, Governor Cuomo stated that the number of new daily admissions had fallen to levels before the pandemic, and that the number of COVD-19 deaths was below 200 for the third day in a row.   He announced that the North Country region was the fourth region to satisfy the seven metrics for reopening on Friday by starting with construction, manufacturing and curbside retail.  The Governor again urged compliance with health requirements for minimum physical separation and the wearing of face masks which have proven successful in the State’s fight against the spread of the virus. 
 
According to the updated metrics table (https://forward.ny.gov/regional-monitoring-dashboard), the Capital Region is now missing two of seven metrics.  As of yesterday, it was only missing one which requires five or fewer daily hospital deaths on a three-day rolling average.  The Capital Region’s number remains at six daily deaths.   As of today, the region is now also missing a second metric which requires a sustained decline in the three-day rolling average of total net hospitalizations (defined as the total number of people in the hospital on a given day) over the course of a 14-day period.  Alternatively, the region can satisfy this metric if the daily net increase in total hospitalizations (measured on a three-day rolling average basis) has never exceeded 15.  The Capital Region’s number on this alternative option is 18.  
 
The Governor announced the results of the State's ongoing testing survey to determine the extent of COVID-19 antibodies in certain populations.   The latest tested groups were the 2,750 members of the New York State Police which recorded 3.1% with COVID-19 antibodies.  For the approximate 3,000 members of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the testing found that 7.5% of the members had the antibodies.  These results compared to 12.3% of the general population in Upstate New York.  
 
Not surprisingly, with the improving weather, attendance in Town parks, open space, and trails, is increasing.  Please remember to carry a mask with you for quickly donning if you’re unable to maintain the minimum six-foot separation.   I hope that I’m not jinxing it but it looks like we might be finally turning the corner on our weather.  Let’s hope that it’s a harbinger for our collective exit from this Upside Down World.  
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 1,375 confirmed cases, and that there are now 31 persons hospitalized and seven persons in the intensive care unit.  There were no deaths from the virus overnight which left the County’s death toll at 61.  There are now 913 persons under mandatory quarantine and 17 persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 3,388 people have completed quarantine, including 837 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 shared at the County’s daily briefing, 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 the same data for each county:
 
In his daily press briefing, Governor Cuomo stated that the number of hospitalizations continued to decline and that the number of new daily admissions had fallen to where they were on March 19th.  He shared more updates about the reopening of the State in regional phases on Friday, including that, overnight, the Capital Region reached the metric for declining hospitalizations and that the missing metric was the number of COVID-19 deaths.  Here’s the requirement for that metric:
 
Region must show a sustained decline in the three-day rolling average of daily hospital deaths over the course of a 14-day period.  Alternatively, regions can satisfy this metric if the three-day rolling average of daily new hospital deaths has never exceeded 5.  The first number in this cell represents the number of consecutive days of decline in the three-day rolling average of daily hospital deaths; if this number is 14 or greater the region automatically satisfies this metric.  The second number represents maximum daily increase in the three-day rolling average of new hospital deaths that the region has experienced; if this number is 5 or less the region automatically satisfies this metric.
 
According to the updated metrics table (https://forward.ny.gov/regional-monitoring-dashboard), the Capital Region’s cell number for the missing metric is 6/6 which means that the three-day rolling average of daily hospital deaths at 6 or one more than the 5 death maximum.  Please note that, while Albany County’s number of deaths has been zero for two of the last three nights, the Capital Region includes seven other counties (Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren, and Washington).  
 
County Executive McCoy was hopeful that the region would satisfy the final metric but noted that, while Albany County has a plan ready for submission to the State, that some of the other nine counties were still working on plans.  He has asked that the State, when considering the metrics, exclude patients who were flown into the region for special care at local hospitals.  
 
Please remember that, while some parts of the economy may reopen, that a complete reopening could take more than two months.  During that time, our local businesses need your continued support.  Please visit the Guilderland Chamber of Commerce’s online small business hub (https://www.guilderlandchamber.com/guilderland-small-business-hub/) which lists local businesses which are open, both in person and online.  
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Monday, May 11, 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 1,395 confirmed cases, and that there are now 30 persons hospitalized and seven persons in the intensive care unit (ICU).  There were two deaths overnight which raised the County’s death toll remains to 61.  There are now 847 persons under mandatory quarantine and 15 persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 3,294 people have completed quarantine, including 823 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.  
 
County Executive Daniel McCoy and County Health Commissioner Elizabeth Whalen, M.D. also shared specifics about the latest COVID-19 data posted on the County’s dashboard at: https://legacy.livestories.com/s/v2/covid-19-dashboard-albany-county-ny/dabd57f3-5285-4666-97fc-53c5bf4b8560/.  The data showed that the 20-29 age group had the second highest number of cases at 235 persons.  This fact suggested that this younger age group was asymptomatic or had mild symptoms, and was spreading the virus, and urged everyone to follow guidelines including regular hand washing, donning masks, staying at least six-feet apart, and staying home whenever possible. 
 
In his daily press briefing, Governor Andrew Cuomo continued to report positive COVID-19 data, including overnight declines in the State’s death tally, hospitalizations, intubations, and new admissions, which confirmed progress in curtailing the spread of the virus.  The number of new admissions and deaths were again numbers not seen in two months. 
 
The Governor announced that three regions (Mohawk Valley, Finger Lakes, and Southern Tier) had met all seven metrics for the first phase of reopening, and that two regions (Central New York and North Country) were close by meeting six out of seven metrics.  Here’s the reopening metrics dashboard: https://forward.ny.gov/regional-monitoring-dashboard.   The Governor said that the State will be continuing to monitor the metrics as the reopening date of Friday, May 15th approaches.  If a region meets the seven metrics by that date, the region will enter the first phase of reopening.  Since I last looked this weekend, the list of business activities in Phase 1 has expanded and now includes:
 
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail - Curbside Pickup
  • Wholesale Trade
  • Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
There are important details about these activities here: https://forward.ny.gov/industries-reopening-phase#overview.  The State stated that it was working on FAQs.  If you have questions, you should contact the regional office in which the business is located.  Here is the Capital Region’s contact: capnyf@esd.ny.gov.
 
The Capital Region has met five of the seven metrics but has not met the targets for new hospitalizations and deaths which require either a 14 decline or three-day averages of less than 15 hospitalizations and five deaths.  County Executive Daniel McCoy reiterated that he will soon submit to the State a reopening plan which meets the seven metrics.      
 
The State also said that: “Certain low-risk business and recreational activities will be ready to reopen statewide on May 15th, including landscaping and gardening businesses; and recreational activities such as tennis and drive-in movie theaters.” https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/home.  
 
I thought that very early Executive Orders allowed these activities (except maybe, but not sure why, drive-in theaters).  Tennis has been played at Tawasentha Park and local gardening shops have been selling plants and supplies for weeks.  If these activities were still “on Pause,” I would have avoided the mistake of buying tomato plants too early.  Sorry, I could not pass on another negative comment on our lousy weather.  
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 1,345 confirmed cases, and that there are now 28 persons hospitalized and seven persons in the intensive care unit (ICU).  County DOH announced that there were no COVID hospitalizations or deaths in the past 24 hours.  The County’s death toll remains at 59.  There are now 971 persons under mandatory quarantine and 15 persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 3,154 people have completed quarantine, including 813 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.  
 
In his daily press briefing, Governor Andrew Cuomo reported that the State’s latest COVID-19 data, including overnight declines in deaths, hospitalizations, intubations, and new admissions, showed that the State was seeing documented progress in curtailing the spread of the virus.  The number of new admissions and deaths were back to amounts recorded at the start of the pandemic.  The Governor also reaffirmed his plans for the State’s regional reopening starting this Friday, May 15th, promised more details tomorrow, and anticipates that some regions will be eligible for reopening.  The State is closely watching the progress of Federal legislation this week to address losses by state and local governments in addressing COVID-19’s impacts.   
 
In his latest Executive Order 202.29, the Governor continued to June 6th, “the suspensions and modifications of law, and any directives, not superseded by a subsequent directive, made by Executive Order 202.15, 202.16, 202.17, 202.18, 202.19, 202.20, and 202.21.”  In response to news reports that this Order’s purpose was to extend the State’s “On Pause” until June 6th, the Governor’s Secretary clarified (https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/statement-secretary-governor-melissa-derosa-ny-pause-executive-order) that:
 
NY ON PAUSE was not extended to June 6.
 
Yesterday's Executive Order extended the underlying legal authority for the Emergency Order, but did not change the text of any of the directives in NY ON PAUSE and so the expiration date of May 15 still stands until further notice. At that time, new guidance will be issued for regions based on the metrics outlined by Governor Cuomo earlier this week.
 
I’m not sure why the clarification was needed, but despite this confusion, it remains that each of the State’s ten regions would have the ability to reopen earlier if it meets the State’s seven metrics, now apparently subject to “new guidance.”  As you may recall, if a region meets the seven criteria, it can start with the first phase of reopening this Friday by allowing manufacturing, construction, and curbside retail pickups.  
 
With no fanfare and little notice, these important metrics were recently modified (and may be again in “new guidance”), likely in response to criticism that some metrics were impossible to meet because of a region’s size or, for example, penalized the Capital Region because its hospitals treat COVID-19 patients who do not reside in the region.  Here are the State’s seven metrics with the latest clarifications (so far):
 
1.  Based on CDC recommendations, a region must experience a 14-day decline in hospitalizations on a 3-day rolling average.  A region with few COVID cases cannot exceed 15 new total cases on a 3-day rolling average. 
 
2.  Based on CDC recommendations, a region must experience a 14-day decline in deaths on a 3-day rolling average. Regions with few COVID cases cannot exceed 5 new deaths on a 3-day rolling average.
 
3.  Based on CDC recommendations, a region must have fewer than two new COVID patients admitted per 100,000 residents per day.
 
4.  To maintain the phased re-opening plan, a region must have at least 30 percent total hospital beds and ICU beds available after elective surgeries resume.  This is coupled with the new requirement that hospitals have at least 90 days of PPE stockpiled.
 
5.  A region must implement a testing regimen that prioritizes symptomatic persons and individuals who came into contact with a symptomatic person, and conduct frequent tests of frontline and essential workers.  Each region must have the capacity to conduct 30 diagnostic tests for every 1,000 residents per month.  A region must maintain an appropriate number of testing sites to accommodate its population and must fully advertise where and how people can get tested.  The region must also use the collected data to track and trace the spread of the virus. 
 
6.  A region must have a baseline of 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents, and additional tracers based on the projected number of cases in the region. The region must also monitor the regional infection rate throughout the re-opening plan.
 
7.  A region must present plans to have rooms available for people who test positive for COVID-19 and who cannot self-isolate.
 
Here’s a link to the State’s reopening guidelines, including a chart of each region’s progress in meeting the metrics: https://www.governor.ny.gov/new-york-forward/regional-guidelines-re-opening-new-york#priority-industries-for-re-opening.  As of today, the chart shows that the Capital Region meets four of the seven metrics but there’s no indication of how often the chart is updated.  County Executive Dan McCoy announced today that he would have a plan satisfying these metrics by Wednesday for submitting to the State and “one component that is great news today is that there have not been any new hospitalizations in 24 hours.”  
 
I have not checked yet on why this latest Order applies only to seven past Orders and makes no mention to the other 22 Orders and their hundreds of directives.  Maybe they’ve been allowed to expire (I doubt it) or maybe they have effective dates beyond June 6th, or maybe I’m spending way too much time thinking about it on a sunny Mother’s Day.
 
I wish all moms, stepmoms, grandmothers, and their families a joyful Mother’s Day.
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

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

 

Friday, May 8, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 1,309 confirmed cases, and that there are now 29 persons hospitalized and six persons in the intensive care unit.  There were two deaths yesterday which brought the County’s death toll to 58.  There are now 1,009 persons under mandatory quarantine and 15 persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 2,979 people have completed quarantine, including 768 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.  The County’s dashboard is  updated each night and does not reflect the numbers shared at the County’s daily briefing:  https://legacy.livestories.com/s/v2/covid-19-dashboard-albany-county-ny/dabd57f3-5285-4666-97fc-53c5bf4b8560/.   
 
In his daily update, the Governor reviewed State data, including hospitalizations and deaths, which showed a continuing decline, but not as rapidly as their ascent.  It remains uncertain whether this gradual decline is long-term, might flatten, or accelerate.  The Governor also raised concerns about a second wave and the lack of complete understandings about immunity from antibodies, the cause of COVID-19 related severe illnesses in children, and greater impact upon minority communities.   
 
This eighth week of hibernation continues to cause stress and anguish in our community. The American Red Cross has just launched a virtual Family Assistance Center which provides referrals for families that have lost loved ones.  The Center links families with crisis counselors who can provide confidential help with legal and other processes resulting from the loss.  Here’s the link: https://www.redcross.org/local/new-york/eastern-new-york/about-us/news-and-events/news/virtual-family-assistance-center.html.
 
Due to COVID-19 precautions, Community Caregivers has suspended in-person services including transportation and home visits.  Volunteers are available weekdays at (518) 456-2898 from 9am to 4pm for support and assistance during this difficult time. 
 
If you are experiencing stress, anxiety or depression, the County COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line is available every day from 8am to 8pm at (518) 269-6634.  If you are experiencing or are aware of a psychiatric emergency, please immediately call the County Mobile Crisis Team at (518) 549–6500.  The County also has a 24-hour sexual assault hotline number at (518) 447-7716.
 
In a small indication of a return to normalcy, early this morning, campers and recreational vehicles which were housing National Grid staff on site for more than a month at its operational center next to Town Hall were being trucked away. 
 
To end on positive notes, I’m very pleased to report that residents who pay with cash at the Transfer Station are depositing loose change in the jar for the Guilderland Food Pantry.  There have also been generous donations of nonperishable food and household items. Thank you for helping needy persons in our community. 
 
Town staff continue to work on creative measures to deliver services, including holding programs for seniors and provide transportation for medical appointments and groceries.  Parks & Recreation staff is working on a revised summer recreational program for children and opening the pool for certain uses. Nearly every possible step requires input and approval from State and County offices, and providing the safest environment for children, families, and employees.  That said, Town staff know how popular these programs and services have been in the past, and why they are even more important today, and working hard now on plans.  I can’t end without noting that I am writing these notes about opening an outdoor pool and summer program, while listening to a forecast for measurable snow overnight.   I am losing track of the mounting number of oddities in this Upside Down World.  
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 1,277 confirmed cases, and that there are now 28 persons hospitalized and seven persons in the intensive care unit.  There were three deaths yesterday which brought the County’s death toll to 56.  There are now 1,041 persons under mandatory quarantine and five persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 2,894 people have completed quarantine, including 753 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.  The County’s dashboard on COVID-19 statistics, which is updated each night and does not reflect the numbers shared at the County’s daily briefing, 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 County also reported that, since the outset of the pandemic, overall crime, including petty larceny, drug charges, and vehicles and traffic offenses has declined but that there have been upticks in domestic incidents.  Some felonies, including burglaries, robberies and weapons charges, had remained steady.
 
In today’s press briefing, Governor Cuomo again noted that hospitalizations, intubations, and new admissions relating to COVID-19 in the State have continued to decline but that, for the fourth consecutive day, the State’s death toll was flat.  He also stated that, in many parts of the State, customers in supermarkets were more than twice as likely as healthcare workers to test positive for COVID-19.  The Governor believed that this discrepancy was due to the stronger likelihood that healthcare workers were following health protocols for cleaning hands and using sanitizers, as well as wearing masks and gloves.  The Governor concluded that he would soon issue another Executive Order that extends the State’s moratorium on evictions until August 20th, bars late fees for unpaid rent, and allows the use of security deposits to pay rent fees. 
 
In another sign of a return to some sense of normalcy, the NYS DOH issued a waiver to Albany Medical Center (AMC) which would allow elective outpatient surgeries and procedures which have been suspended for nearly two months.   To receive the waiver, AMC had to have an approved plan to ensure capacity to handle a surge in COVID-19 patients.  This development should also help the Town’s EMS Department which, like the region as a whole, has noticed a marked increase in strokes and heart attacks.  It is possible that some residents have forgone catheterizations, pace makers monitoring, and other vital treatments during the pandemic because of concerns about conditions at local hospitals.  
 
I have received rave reviews for the Guilderland Farmers’ Market’s online option for ordering wide-ranging food, crafts, and special gifts for pickup at the Star Plaza parking lot.  Here’s the link: https://www.guilderlandfarmersmarket.com/online-market.  As of today, the online market has 18 vendors.  To order for this Sunday’s pickup between Noon and 1:30pm for Mother’s Day, your order must be placed by 7pm on Friday.  More details about ordering and pickup are on the website.  
 
We have a limited supply of washable cotton face masks (five masks per sealed package) for residents who do not have access to masks or for delivery to vulnerable persons.   To confirm the availability of masks for pick-up at the Police Department’s lobby at Town Hall or to schedule a delivery for special needs, please call (518) 356-1980 ext. 1038 or email police@togny.org.   
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents: 
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 1,252 confirmed cases, and that there are now 32 persons hospitalized and eight persons in the intensive care unit. There were two deaths yesterday which brought the County’s death toll to 53. There are now 1,093 persons under mandatory quarantine and eight persons in precautionary quarantine. The County noted that 2,862 people have completed quarantine, including 664 persons who had tested positive and have recovered. The County’s dashboard on COVID-19 statistics show 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 dashboard is updated each night and does not reflect the numbers announced at the daily briefing. 
 
County Executive Daniel P. McCoy stated that the County was close to meeting the Governor’s seven metrics for reopening and would, by Monday, submit a reopening plan for the Capital Region to the Governor. It was unclear how the other seven counties in the Capital Region were addressing these metrics. As of today, the Capital Region did not pass four of the seven metrics, including testing capacity, contact tracer capacity, and number of COVID-19 hospitalizations. Here’s the table for each region’s status: https://www.governor.ny.gov/programs/new-york- forward
 
In today’s press briefing, the Governor again noted that the number of hospitalizations, intubations, and new COVID-19 admissions was continuing to decline in the State and that the same numbers were rising in the rest of the country. He also reported that a survey of hospitals showed that only 17% of COVID-19 patients were working, and that, to his surprise, most of the patients were retired or unemployed. There had been an assumption that a higher percentage of essential employees would have been exposed because they were going to work. Other survey data included that 96% of patients had other underlying health conditions, 46% were unemployed, and 37% were retired. The Governor noted that the data “says they’re not working, they’re not traveling, they’re predominantly downstate, predominantly minority, predominantly older.” 
 
Not surprisingly, Western Turnpike Golf Course had a fantastic weekend which carried over into this week despite the unseasonable cold temperatures. Every tee time was booked on Sunday from 8:00am until 5:30pm, and business has since been brisk. Despite last week’s heavy rain and wet ground conditions, there were no complaints and, of course, having temperatures, albeit briefly, in the 70s contributed to very pleasant outings. Golfers also appreciated “to go” lunches offered by The Nines at Western Turnpike and also offered dinners for four persons. Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/theninesatwesternturnpike/
 
Town parks, open space, and trails, despite often soggy conditions, continue to see heavy usage and, while there are no official tallies, no one can recall seeing more people in the parks on Sunday playing Frisbee and tennis, walking, picnicking, and having an enjoyable time. There were occasional reminders about physical separation, but there were no serious issues. And while there has been a ban on gatherings under Executive Orders, the Town police have not been required to take any action other than a timely and gentle reminder. 
 
Let’s admit that if we were not distracted by a historic pandemic, we’d be talking about our bizarre weather in this Upside Down World. The record setting average temperatures in March were followed by one of the dreariest Aprils, and now there is actually snow (okay, only an inch or two, but that’s still crazy) in the forecast for Mother’s Day weekend. 
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm. 
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor 

 

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 1,236 confirmed cases, and currently 33 persons hospitalized and eight persons in the intensive care unit.  There were two deaths overnight which brought the County’s death toll to 51.  There are now 1,107 persons under mandatory quarantine and four persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 2,722 people have completed quarantine, including 662 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.  
 
The County’s “dashboard,” which is updated each night and does not reflect the numbers announced at the daily briefing, 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/.   
 
In his daily briefing, the Governor reported that the State continued to have declines in hospitalizations, intubations, and new COVID-19 cases, but that the number of deaths slightly increased.  He again emphasized that the pandemic exposed the need for “re-imagining” how government and business operate including enhancing use of technology and remote learning to reduce physical contacts.  The Governor again urged that residents must follow all health requirements including, as weather improves, a ban on gatherings, minimum six-foot physical separation, and wearing a face mask where the required separation is not possible.    
 
The Governor noted that each of the State’s 10 regions must satisfy seven specific metrics before businesses could reopen: 
 
  • A 14-day decline in hospitalizations or fewer than 15 new hospitalizations (3-day average) 
  • A 14-day decline in hospital deaths or fewer than five deaths a day (3-day average)
  • New hospitalizations (under 2 per 100,000 residents – 3-day average)  
  • Share of total beds available (threshold of 30 percent) 
  • Share of ICU beds available (threshold of 30 percent)
  • Thirty residents per 1,000 residents tested monthly
  • At least 30 contact tracers per 100,000 residents
As of today, no region passed every metric.  The Capital Region passed four metrics, but failed the metrics for testing and tracer capacity, and in hopefully a temporary change from yesterday, the rate and number of COVID-19 hospitalizations.  The State’s table shows a region’s status: https://www.governor.ny.gov/programs/new-york-forward.
 
Assemblymembers Patricia Fahy and John McDonald, and invited chamber of commerce guests are holding a virtual town hall on Thursday, May 7th from 11am to Noon regarding “A Roadmap to Reopening:  Looking Towards Your Businesses’ Next Steps” which will discuss the reopening of the local economy and the State’s long-term economic situation.  The event is available on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/events/1308150236046078/) or on Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85895009187).
 
Today is Cinco de Mayo, and as seen in the expanding online directory of Guilderland restaurants, you have a wide choice of ethnic restaurants, including Mexican, that are open for takeout and delivery:  https://issuu.com/our_towne/docs/guilderland_take-out_guide.  Please continue to support local restaurants during these extremely difficult economic times.   
 
Today is also #GivingTuesdayNow, a day, usually held in December, to encourage giving in response to the unprecedented needs in our community caused by COVID-19.  Among the suggestions are donating to charitable organizations including the Guilderland Food Pantry (https://guilderlandfoodpantry.com/donate/) and Community Caregivers (https://www.communitycaregivers.org/), and supporting our local businesses by ordering gift cards for future use, placing delivery, takeout, and soon curbside pickup of orders (https://www.guilderlandchamber.com/guilderland-small-business-hub/).  
 
Today is Teacher Appreciation Day and tomorrow is National School Nurse Day.  These are very difficult times for professionals who have dedicated their careers to educating our children.  Upon behalf of our community, I thank these women and men for continuing to provide the best remote education experience possible under these demanding circumstances.  As Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers) said, “Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me.” 
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm. 
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Monday, May 4, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 1,224 confirmed cases, and that there are now 32 persons hospitalized and seven persons in the intensive care unit.  There were two deaths yesterday which brought the County’s death toll to 49.  There are now 1,091 persons under mandatory quarantine and 10 persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 2,601 people have completed quarantine, including 621 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.  The County’s dashboard on COVID-19 statistics show 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 dashboard is updated each night and does not reflect the numbers announced at the daily briefing.  
 
In today’s press briefing, Governor Cuomo noted more positive data, including the numbers of hospitalizations, intubations, and new COVID-19 cases, but expressed concern about the State’s death toll.  He urged caution in announcing a four-phase regional reopening, starting with first phase on May 15th:
  • Phase 1 manufacturing and wholesale supply chain, construction, and select retail- curbside pickup  
  • Phase 2 retail, administrative support, professional services, finance and insurance,  and real estate/rental leasing 
  • Phase 3 restaurants/food service, and hotels/accommodations  
  • Phase 4 educations, and arts/entertainment/ recreation   
Before entering each two-week phase, each of the State’s 10 regions must satisfy seven conditions (https://www.governor.ny.gov/new-york-forward/phased-plan-re-open-new-york#regional-requirements-for-phased-reopening).  As of today, the Governor said that no region satisfies all seven conditions.  The Capital Region meets five of the seven conditions, but not testing and tracing capabilities.   The Governor warned that each phase would be carefully monitored on a regional basis upon four metrics to gauge changes in the rate of infection.  He concluded that enacting further steps for the phased reopening will require “substantive” work.     
 
Against this backdrop and mindful of health guidelines, the Town is continuing with its preparations for the “reimagined” reopening of Town facilities, including a detailed plan, based upon the State’s following principles for businesses, including local governments:  
Workplace: Redesign workplaces to include social distancing measures (i.e., desks six feet apart, modify conference rooms), implement telecommuting for the most vulnerable.
 
Customer interaction: Implement measures to maintain social distancing and ensure minimal contact with customers. Provide public-interacting employees with necessary protective supplies such as gloves, masks, etc. Special precautions should be taken for businesses that primarily interact with the most vulnerable populations.
 
Proactive infection plan: Ensure protocols are in place should an employee develop COVID-19 symptoms or test positive (i.e. work from home plan).
 
The Town has begun “reimaging” government in various ways including creating new online forms with direct submission in the Town Clerk’s office, and, with the ban on large gatherings, adding public participation in scheduled board meetings by calling a dedicated phone number.   We will soon announce other creative solutions for delivering services to our community.  
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 1,119 confirmed cases, and that there are now 30 persons hospitalized and eight persons in the intensive care unit.  There was one death overnight which brought the County’s death toll to 47.  There are now 1,091 persons under mandatory quarantine and 10 persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 2,589 people have completed quarantine, including 616 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.  The County’s dashboard on COVID-19 statistics show 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/.
 
In today’s press briefing, Governor Cuomo announced more good news, including declining rates of hospitalizations, intubations, and new COVID-19 cases.  While the death toll is lower, it remains tragically high.  He focused upon “lessons learned” including the importance of minimum six-foot physical separation, facial coverings, and regular hand washing, and avoiding a relapse or spike in the virus.  The Governor did not offer any guidance on plans for regional reopening after May 15th.  
 
NYS Attorney General Letitia James is warning about scams targeting residents in which callers impersonate police officers and ask for financial information to resolve fake debts.  These scams use police officers’ names and caller ID which makes it appear that the call is coming from a local police department.  This scheme is focusing on the Albany and Troy Police Departments but Town residents should be prepared.  Here is the Attorney General’s press release:  https://ag.ny.gov/press-release/2020/attorney-general-james-issues-alert-protect-capital-region-new-scams.   If you learn of consumer fraud activity, like attempts to divert federal stimulus payments or unemployment insurance, you can file a complaint with the Attorney General at: https://formsnym.ag.ny.gov/OAGOnlineSubmissionForm/faces/OAGCFCHome;jsessionid=3_nadMha8euimRKbf77cFT1YB2PfmqLw7tVeZOKF3LxVTXxJXkLC!-1525614401 or calling 1-800-771-7755.
 
Today’s weather is too gorgeous to end this update on a sour note.  We did a quick bike survey of Town parks (not all eight of them), the golf course (you don’t have to be golfer to tell that golfers were delighted with the course), and anglers on the Normanskill.   I know that we’re all hoping that our ratio of good and bad weather days, which is now, at best, 2:3, will soon be 5:1 or better.  I want to again thank the Town’s essential workers for keeping our parks, trails, open space, and golf course ready for your enjoyment.   I also appreciate the numerous emails from residents who take the time to share positive comments about the work performed by Town staff.
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm, and enjoy this gorgeous weather.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 1,185 confirmed cases, and that there are now 34 persons hospitalized and eight persons in the intensive care unit.  There were two deaths overnight which brought the County’s death toll to 46.  There are now 1,057 persons under mandatory quarantine and 11 persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 2,386 people have completed quarantine, including 591 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.  
 
After yesterday’s announcement that schools were closed for the rest of the academic year, today’s press briefing by the Governor was a comparatively quiet event for our community (lots of talk about the daily cleaning of New York City’s subways).  He emphasized that the State is in “uncharted waters” and is dependent upon accurate data and facts to navigate a path forward.  The Governor reported that today’s data, including declining hospitalizations, intubations, and new admissions, continued to show progress in lowering the infection rate.  He reported that the antibody survey of confirmed cases showed, as of May 1st, that COVID-19 was present in 12.3% of the State’s population, 19.9% in New York City, and 2.2% in the Capital Region.  The Governor concluded that this data, and more facts learned over the next week, is important to the State’s phased regional reopening starting on May 15th.   
 
In case you missed it, the Governor issued his 26th Executive Order which delays school board elections and budget votes from May 19th to June 9th.   The Order also provides that the school board elections and budget votes will be conducted by mail and all qualified voters will be sent an absentee ballot with return postage paid.  The Order also postpones library, village and local special district elections until September 15th, except that a library may choose to participate in the school’s June 9th vote.  
 
As you might guess, by modifying already complex elections laws, this Order is confusing.  With about 142 lines, 29 directives and sub-directives, the Order requires careful reading (and multiple re-readings and extreme patience).  It also officially displaces, in my ranking, Executive Order 202.7’s expansion of notaries’ authority as the most befuddling directive so far.  Here’s the link (but please wait until a rainy day to read):  https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-20226-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency
 
There is one phrase in the Order which seems symptomatic of the complexity of this Order.  In the 29th directive, after making remarkable suspensions of election laws, there was a need to “clarify” that “provided, however, each voter shall not be sent more than one ballot.”  It is simply striking that there was a need to reaffirm the constitutional guarantee of “one person, one vote” and that, despite unprecedented changes to every-day life, this “Upside Down World” is still a functioning democracy.  
Thank you for staying safe and calm, and enjoy the weekend’s gorgeous weather.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

Friday, May 1, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 1,151 confirmed cases, and that there are now 33 persons hospitalized and eight persons in the intensive care unit.  There were two deaths overnight which brought the County’s death toll to 41.  There are now 1,104 persons under mandatory quarantine and 14 persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 2,348 people have completed quarantine, including 578 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.  The County’s “dashboard” provided detailed demographical data about the spread of the virus and testing:  https://legacy.livestories.com/s/v2/covid-19-dashboard-albany-county-ny/dabd57f3-5285-4666-97fc-53c5bf4b8560/.
 
At his daily press briefing, the Governor announced that all schools and colleges are closed for the remainder of the academic year, and that he would determine by the end of May whether summer school programs would take place.  He also added that the reopening of schools in the fall would require well-considered plans and “re-imagine school facilities” that keep students and employees safe including physical separation and other health guidelines. 
 
The Governor confirmed that non-essential businesses would remain closed until Friday, May 15th, when “low risk” manufacturing and construction activities would reopen.  After two weeks of monitoring the infection rate, the State would allow “more essential” businesses to restart.  The details are being considered by the Governor’s New York Forward Re-Opening Advisory Board.  The Governor also noted that State data, including hospitalizations, intubations, and deaths, had continued to decline but that the number of new admissions for COVID-19 had flattened at an unacceptable high number and would require investigations to discern and address the causes as part of a reopening plan.  
 
The Town has a Reopening Task Force which is developing plans to protect the public and employees as more parts of the Town government are soon restarted, making the physical work space safer, and taking steps to lower the risk of infection.  The overarching concern is a safe environment which is dependent on physical separation and adherence to health protocols.  The plans must also comply with Executive Orders (25 as of today) with about 296 directives. 
 
The Town offers diverse services for young, old, and in-between in different indoor and outdoor settings including over 300 persons in Town Court on Monday and Thursday evening; hundreds of children in the Parks & Recreation’s summer recreational programs at Tawasentha Park, and sporting activities in Town parks; dozens of seniors who rely upon transportation to local stores and doctor’s appointments, and attend programs at the Senior Center; and hundreds of residents who visit Town Hall every week for permits, tax payments, hearings, and meetings.  The Town has responded with updated forms with direct submission, audio-visual improvements for remote hearings with public participation, contact-less payment of taxes and fees, and other creative measures.   We will soon announce new methods for the safe provision of more services. 
 
Happy Friday and May Day, which in most of the world is a labor holiday, but not here.  But it is still a day, like every other day in the past seven weeks, when we should thank the workers who have continued to provide essential services in our community.  There are so many to thank including first responders, volunteers, postal and delivery workers, cashiers and stock clerks, cooks and cleaning staff, building and fire inspectors, and moms, dads and others who, for more than seven weeks, have kept children safe and entertained.    
 
The Albany Times-Union has an “Everyday Hero” feature which focuses on remarkable persons who are on the frontline in helping in our community’s response to the pandemic. This week, it highlighted the professionalism and dedication shown by Guilderland EMT Caitlin D’Allesandro in her care of patients:  https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Everyday-hero-Caitlin-D-Allesandro-15229531.php.   I thank Caitlin and her fellow first responders for her service and congratulate her for this well-deserved recognition.  
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 1,120 confirmed cases, and that there are now 34 persons hospitalized and 10 persons in the intensive care unit.  There were two deaths overnight bringing the County’s death toll to 41. There are now 907 persons under mandatory quarantine and 22 persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 2,286 people have completed quarantine, including 562 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.   The County’s “dashboard” has more demographical statistics about the spread of the virus and testing: https://legacy.livestories.com/s/v2/covid-19-dashboard-albany-county-ny/dabd57f3-5285-4666-97fc-53c5bf4b8560/.
 
The County DOH reports that about 20 percent of the County’s confirmed cases are at senior care facilities which are closed to the public.  In Guilderland, the County reported that Our Lady of Mercy Life Center has 44 residents and 13 employees with confirmed cases, and The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing has 22 residents and four employees with confirmed cases.  The numbers of confirmed cases are cumulative since the start of the pandemic.  The County DOH does not provide other COVID-19 data about senior care facilities.    
 
The County’s “dashboard” also shows that adults between 20 to 29 years of age have more confirmed cases than any other age group except adults aged 50 to 59.  As of today, there were 190 confirmed cases for persons in their 20’s, nearly as many as the 210 confirmed cases for persons in their 50’s.  And while no person in that younger age group has died in the County and only three people under the age of 50 have been hospitalized, this data shows that the virus can be present in younger adults who were not hospitalized or were even asymptomatic.  
 
At his daily press briefing, the Governor announced that the State’s data regarding hospitalizations, intubations, and new admissions continued to decline, and that the death toll, while tragically high, was also lower.  He reiterated his 12 benchmarks for the State’s regional reopening, and stated that further details about the planned phased reopening would soon be announced.  The Governor emphasized that any reopening would be carefully monitored, including an “army of contact tracers” of between 6,400 to 17,000 contact tracers depending on spread of the virus, who will trace the contacts of confirmed cases and help determine the infection rate.  
 
The Governor stated that tomorrow he would announce whether schools would remain closed past May 15th.  The State Education Department announced a task force with the long-awaited assignment of determining “how we can successfully and appropriately reopen our schools.”   The Education Department will work with State DOH on recommendations for the Governor’s recently created New York Forward Re-Opening Advisory Board.   
 
As our weather improves (it has to, doesn’t it?), and more people again resume enjoying the outdoors (a ratio of 1 good day for 3 bad days seems particularly unfair), it is very important to follow all health guidelines including a minimum six-foot separation and donning a face mask when that physical separation is not possible.  It is strongly encouraged for everyone to be prepared and have a face mask ready for unanticipated social interactions.  Please also be mindful, while driving, that physical distancing can cause walkers and bicyclists to occupy more of a road.  
 
This is the final call, for now, if you need washable cotton face masks (five masks per sealed package).  The supply has been greatly diminished over the past 48 hours.  Before driving to the Police Department’s lobby at Town Hall, please confirm availability by calling (518) 356-1980 ext. 1038 or emailing police@togny.org.
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 1,026 confirmed cases, and that there are now 37 persons hospitalized and eight persons in the intensive care unit.  Four persons passed away overnight which brought the County’s death toll to 40.  There are now 853 persons under mandatory quarantine and 24 persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 2,209 people have completed quarantine, including 527 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.   The County’s “dashboard” has more demographical statistics about the spread of the virus and testing:  https://legacy.livestories.com/s/v2/covid-19-dashboard-albany-county-ny/dabd57f3-5285-4666-97fc-53c5bf4b8560/.
 
County Executive Dan McCoy said that the number of confirmed cases will increase as more testing is available.  County Health Commission Elizabeth Whalen, MD noted that the County may not meet all of the Governor’s guidelines, discussed below, for reopening but she was hopeful of improved data before May 15th.  Dr. Whalen emphasized that 80% of confirmed COVID-19 patients are asymptomatic or have mild or flu-like symptoms, and that the remaining 20% had more serious conditions.  
 
In today’s press briefing, Governor Cuomo again outlined the guidelines for the phased reopening of the State’s nine regions, including our Capital Region.  The 12-point plan starts with a region having a 14-day decline in hospitalization rates as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The second guideline allows for reopening of businesses in phases, including the first phase of “low risk” construction and manufacturing followed by second phase of businesses “more essential” to customers with inherent low risks of infection, and later businesses considered “less essential” or presenting a higher of infection.  Another guideline is business plans to protect employees and customers, make work places safer, and implement processes to lower the risk of infections.  Other considerations for reopening a region include a testing regimen; at least 30 contact tracers per 100,000 residents; isolation facilities for persons who test positive and cannot self-isolate; regional coordination on reopening schools and transportation systems; re-imagining tele-medicine and tele-education; a regional oversight institution to monitor regional indicators during the phased reopening; and ensure protections for essential workers.   The Governor said that more details would be released later this week.    
 
The Guilderland Farmer’s Market is accepting online orders which, if placed before this Friday at 7pm, can be picked-up this Sunday from Noon to 1:30pm at the Star Plaza parking lot, corner of Western Avenue and State Route 155.  Orders placed after 7pm on Friday, will be ready on the following Sunday.  Here’s the link: https://www.guilderlandfarmersmarket.com/online-market.  As of today, the online market has 13 vendors with an expanding list of products such as artisanal breads and cakes, scones and teas, duck and chicken eggs, maple syrup, beef, duck, chicken, pork, sausage, and smoked meats, jambalaya, marinara and tomato sauce, candles, jewelry, arts and crafts, and much more.  Please consider supporting our local farmers and artisans.
 
Another reminder that the Town has washable cotton face masks (five masks per sealed package) available for pickup at the Police Department’s lobby at Town Hall.  There have been steady requests for the masks since yesterday’s announcement of availability.  If you need a mask or have a special need for a delivery, please confirm the availability of masks by calling (518) 356-1980 ext. 1038 or email police@togny.org.
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 962 confirmed cases, and that there are now 43 persons hospitalized and 10 persons in the intensive care unit.  The death toll remains at 36.  There are now 917 persons under mandatory quarantine and 23 persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 2,027 people have completed quarantine, including 487 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.   The County’s “dashboard” has more demographical statistics about the spread of the virus and testing:  https://legacy.livestories.com/s/v2/covid-19-dashboard-albany-county-ny/dabd57f3-5285-4666-97fc-53c5bf4b8560/.
 
At his press conference this morning, Governor Cuomo reported that the number of new COVID-19 admissions had declined by more than 70 percent since the peak and had fallen below 1,000 new admissions.  He also noted that the death toll was unchanged and 50 percent below the peak.  The overall data further indicated that the outbreak was waning, and supported the State’s reopening.  The Governor reiterated that nonessential businesses and schools will remain closed until May 15th and that the shutdown might be further extended with the exception of “low risk” manufacturing and construction activities on a regional basis.   He said that the State was working on details and anticipated updated directives by the weekend.  
 
The County DOH announced the opening of the latest testing site at Priority 1 Urgent Care, a facility operated by Dr. Jonathan Halpert, which is located at Hamilton Square, 2080 Western Avenue in Guilderland.  Like other locations, testing is by appointment only after screening for COVID-19 symptoms by calling (518) 867-8040.  For a complete list of testing sites and procedures, please visit:  https://www.albanycounty.com/departments/health/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-results.
 
In case you missed it, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday added new symptoms to its existing list of symptoms for COVID-19.  The CDC’s original list stated that fever, cough and shortness of breath are indications that someone might have the virus.  The list was expanded to include chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html).  The CDC states that these symptoms usually appear within two to 14 days after exposure to the virus, and stresses that the "emergency warning signs" for COVID-19 are trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion or inability to arouse, and bluish lips or face.  If you or someone you know has any of these symptoms, you should immediately seek medical attention or call 911.  
 
Last Thursday, County Sheriff Apple generously delivered 8,600 washable cotton face masks (five masks per sealed package) to the Town for distribution to essential businesses.  After several days of distributing the masks to grateful local businesses and workers, and delivering them to vulnerable persons, the Town is ready to distribute the remaining masks to residents who do not have access to masks.  The masks will be made available for pickup at the Police Department’s lobby at Town Hall.  To confirm the availability of masks for pick-up or schedule a delivery for special needs, please call (518) 356-1980 ext. 1038 or email police@togny.org.
 
Please continue to stay safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Monday, April 27, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 937 confirmed cases, and that there are now 43 persons hospitalized and six   persons in the intensive care unit.  Four persons passed away yesterday which brings the County’s death toll from COVID-19 to 36.   There are now 812 persons under mandatory quarantine and 35 persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 2,027 people have completed quarantine, including 478 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.   The County’s “dashboard” has more demographical statistics about the spread of the virus and testing:  https://legacy.livestories.com/s/v2/covid-19-dashboard-albany-county-ny/dabd57f3-5285-4666-97fc-53c5bf4b8560/.
 
At his press conference this morning, Governor Cuomo reported that the State’s death toll, rate of hospitalizations, number of positive cases, new COVID-19 cases, and intubated patients has declined.  The Governor observed that the data supported his decision for a phased reopening of the State under strict guidelines.  
 
The Governor stated that, “in many parts of the State,” he would be extending his Executive Order, set to expire on May 15th, which shuts down schools and nonessential businesses.  Before reopening, the Governor said that the State would create a robust tracing system, involving more than 30,000 medical students, to track down anyone who had contact with a COVID-19 infected person.  Starting with the first of a two phase process, the State would restart on May 15th on a regional basis with “low risk” construction and manufacturing activities.  He emphasized that the reopening process would involve a two-week monitoring of hospitalizations, diagnostic and antibody testing, and infection rates.  The Governor said that the State was working on details of the reopening process, and reiterated a “new normal” with limits on gathering sizes, minimum six-foot physical separation, face coverings, and other health requirements.
 
As part of the assessment process, the Governor announced the results of random testing for antibodies which showed a wide variation in infection rates in the State, including 2.1% in the Capital Region, 10.4% in Westchester/Rockland Counties, and 24.7% in New York City.   He emphasized that the results are preliminary.  
 
To advance the assessment of a region’s reopening, in Executive Order 202.24, Governor Cuomo authorized pharmacies to administer approved COVID-19 tests to detect the virus.  The testing is limited to first-responders, health care workers, and essential workers even if they are asymptomatic.  Here’s the link to the Order:  https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-20224-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency.   The Governor stated that with added testing capacity, there would be an expanded eligibility for tests.
 
Local hospitals are again warning that, with public blood drives suspended, the supply of blood is running low and are urging residents to help by making an appointment to donate blood at www.RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.  In the near future, the Town will announce Red Cross blood drives (by appointment) at Town Hall and EMS Station 1.  NYS DOH is also requesting residents, who have recovered from COVID-19, to please consider donating blood because of antibodies in plasma which is vital to treatment. Here is the link:  https://nybc.org/donate-blood/convalescent-plasma-covid-19-donor-request-form/.  
 
Saturday’s beautiful weather brought 125 golfers to Western Turnpike Golf Course.  Every tee time was reserved, and players adhered to special posted health guidelines.  The new procedures ran smoothly, with compliments for the "touchless" check-in system.  The golfers were very excited to get back on the course and shared very positive comments about the course’s conditions.  The Nines at Western Turnpike, the new food vendor, offered “to go” lunches and drinks.  Going forward, there will be placards with food ordering options placed on the 8th hole tee boxes for pick-up at the end of play. 

Sunday’s cool temperatures, rain, and even wet snow, tampered some enthusiasm.   If not for this global pandemic, I wonder if we would be hearing more about this bizarre weather.  It is certainly consistent with our current Upside Down world, and yet another reason for hoping for an expedient and safe return to normalcy. 
 
Please continue to stay safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Sunday, April 26, 2020  

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 915 confirmed cases.  Because of more aggressive testing, the County expects that the number of confirmed cases will increase.  There are now 37 persons hospitalized and seven persons in the intensive care unit (ICU).  One person passed away yesterday which brings the County’s death toll from COVID-19 to 32.   There are now 802 persons under mandatory quarantine and 32 persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 2,027 people have completed quarantine, including 478 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.   The County has a “dashboard” with more demographical statistics about the spread of the virus and testing:  https://legacy.livestories.com/s/v2/covid-19-dashboard-albany-county-ny/dabd57f3-5285-4666-97fc-53c5bf4b8560/.
 
Behind each of these numbers are neighbors, friends, colleagues, and their families.  I extend my sympathy and have offered the Town’s services and encourage others to provide physical and emotional support.   
 
At his press conference, Governor Cuomo reported that the State’s death toll, rate of hospitalizations, number of positive cases, new COVID-19 cases, and intubated patients has declined.  The Governor observed that the data supported the reopening of the State under strict guidelines.  The Governor stated the State would follow CDC’s recommendation of a 14 day decline in State and regional hospitalizations in guiding the reopening of the State.  
 
The Governor announced no change in the shutdown of schools and nonessential businesses until May 15th.  After that date, the Governor stated that the reopening plan would be in phases, with a regional analysis and determination, and careful monitoring of the phased reopening.  Phase 1 would involve construction and manufacturing activities with low risk followed by a two week monitoring of the infection rate (hospitalizations, and number of confirmed cases and persons with antibodies).  Phase 2 would allow “more essential, lower risk” businesses to reopen based on an assessment of how essential the businesses were to the public and how much risk was involved in their reopening. The Governor stated that reopening of schools and expanding government functions could be part of Phase 2.  The Governor stated that the reopening would be a “new normal” with limits on gathering size, space capacity, keeping minimum safe physical separation, possible face coverings, and other health requirements which will require creative measures based upon the business and activity.  
 
Both the State and the County have noted a marked demand upon food pantries.  That’s the situation here.  The Guilderland Food Pantry continues to fight food insecurity in our community.  I thank you for your donations and again ask for your support.  Please consider making a donation at: https://guilderlandfoodpantry.ccbchurch.com/goto/giving.   
 
I am sure that we all have examples of everyday oddities during this pandemic.  In our home, it’s what we’re doing to stay in close contact and support our son, a reporter in San Francisco.  Something seemed strange, yet necessary, in the items selected for our latest cross-country mailing.  He was very happy to receive his mom’s delicious chocolate-chip cookies and his sister’s recommended readings, but what he most appreciated was a 2 pound bag of flour costing less than $2 (whose intact arrival was confirmed by a text photo).  While seemingly insignificant, this little bag’s 3,000 mile cross-continental journey is emblematic of our Upside Down world and one which I hope we will soon be safely leaving.   It is also a reminder that Post Office employees, who have served throughout this pandemic, are among the essential workers who deserve our support and thanks.
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 864 confirmed cases with 34 persons now hospitalized and seven persons in the intensive care unit.  The County’s death toll of 31 persons was unchanged.  There are now 746 persons under mandatory quarantine and 42 persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 1,960 people have completed quarantine, including 473 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.  
 
At his press conference this morning, Governor Cuomo reported that the State’s death toll had slightly increased, and that other data, including the rate of hospitalizations, number of positive cases, and intubated patients continued to decline.  The Governor observed that the data further indicated that the State was on the downside of the rate of infection curve.   He anticipates making a decision this week on whether schools will open this school year.  The Governor reminded that, as the weather improves, and more residents enjoy outside activities, it is important to continue keeping a minimum six-foot physical separation and wear face masks in public if unable to maintain this separation.
 
At yesterday’s conference, the Governor said that we should expect a “flurry” of Executive Orders this weekend as the State begins consideration of the plan to reopen regional economies.  Last evening, the latest Executive Order 202.23 was issued which details the directive to the NYS Board of Election to mail a postage-paid absentee ballot application to every voter for the June 23rd primary election.  Here’s the Order:  https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-20223-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency
 
I have received numerous thank you emails and calls for the community’s continuing efforts to support local businesses over the past seven weeks of this health and economic emergency.  Among the resources is the Guilderland Chamber of Commerce’s small business hub which has updated details on businesses that are open and offer take-out and delivery, and businesses where you can shop online or buy a gift card:   https://www.guilderlandchamber.com/guilderland-small-business-hub/.   I have also heard great appreciation for the new Take-out Guide with information and active links for Guilderland restaurants that offer take-out and delivery:  https://issuu.com/our_towne/docs/guilderland_take-out_guide.  Please make sure to check both websites for regular updates.  I thank you for your support of local businesses, most of which are owned and operated by residents.    
 
After several weeks of not charging residents to minimize personal contacts, this past Tuesday, the Transfer Station resumed charging for household garbage and construction debris.  As time passed, the crews were seeing an increasing amount of dumped material which was quickly becoming unmanageable.  The Transfer Station is not a landfill.  Instead, Town employees must transport this material to certified landfills and pay ever-increasing disposal charges.  The staff was pleasantly surprised that many residents thanked the staff for keeping the facility open during the pandemic and appreciated the need for the Town to offset the financial impact.   I also thank Transfer Station staff for their upbeat and friendly service for residents.  
 
I am very pleased to report that the two EMS paramedics, who had tested positive for COVID-19, have returned to work under NYS DOH’s protocol for essential workers.  I am also thankful that medics and EMTs have completed mandatory quarantine that was the result of contact tracing.  During this difficult time, fellow medics and EMTs worked extra shifts so that the EMS could maintain a full deployment of ambulances and EMS fly cars.  
 
Please continue to stay safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Friday, April 24, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 784 confirmed cases with 30 persons now hospitalized and seven persons in the intensive care unit (ICU). One person passed away yesterday which brings the County’s death toll from COVID-19 to 31.  There are now 753 persons under mandatory quarantine and 54 persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County noted that 1,902 people have completed quarantine, including 431persons who had tested positive and have recovered. 
 
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, Sr. reported that his office had investigated 70 complaints of gatherings and nonessential businesses operating, and that no actions other than cease-and-desist orders were required and that there were no repeat offenders.   Chief Daniel P. McNally reported the same situation in Guilderland, with only educational reminders and no further action required.  The Police Department is visiting open essential businesses to provide reminders about adhering to health guidelines and also giving sealed packages of washable cotton face masks for use by workers and their families.   
 
At his press conference this morning, Governor Cuomo reported that the State’s daily death toll continued to fall, the three-day average of confirmed cases fell for 11 straight days, and that the number of intubated patients has fallen for 12 consecutive days.  He cautioned that the relatively unchanged number of newly admitted patients was a troubling factor.  The Governor said that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a two-week period of declining or flat infection rates before deciding upon the reopening of non-essential businesses.  He expects an announcement next week on whether schools would reopen this year.  The Governor also announced that the NYS Board of Elections will mail a postage-paid application to every registered voter for an absentee ballot for the State’s June 23rd primary election.  
 
As we are still in an ongoing self-imposed hibernation (good for bears; not so good for humans), it is important that we maintain safe physical separation but not, in my view, social separation. This prolonged unsettling period has caused an increase in friends and neighbors coping, often alone, with stress and anxiety.  Whether its emails, like this, phone calls, letter writing, and social media, the continued social interaction is vital to our collective well-being.  
 
A test can detect coronavirus in the body, but it is very difficult to discern who may need help with mental issues.  Please do not hesitate to seek help; it is a private phone call away.  There are many confidential resources available.  The County has a mental health hotline at (518) 269-6634 where a caring person is ready to listen or talk every day from 8am to 8pm.  Please remember that if you or someone you know is experiencing a psychiatric emergency, don’t hesitate and immediately call mobile crisis at (518) 549–6500.  Community Caregivers’ volunteers are also available for social support by phone at (518) 549-6500 between 9am and 4pm weekday, and offer Lunchtime Chats at 1pm on Tuesday and Friday, where you can join speakers on interesting topics by calling (518) 261-2761.  
The Highway Department is keeping up with providing essential services with one-half staff to maintain physical separation.  Most importantly, by following health guidelines, employees have remained healthy.  The crews are continuing with pick-up of lawn bags and tied bundles, and have resumed regular scheduled pick-ups on your street every seven days or so.  The crews have replaced damaged mail boxes and plan, if the weather improves, to start restoring lawns in rights of way.  Other crews are sweeping streets and cleaning out stormwater basins. Throughout this pandemic, Highway and Parks Department mechanics have kept ambulances, EMS fly cars, police vehicles, heavy and light trucks, and other equipment in top working order.   
 
As our weather continues to improve (despite Sunday’s possible snow; an overlooked example of our Upside Down world), there will be even more walkers, bikers, scooters, skaters, strollers, and other non-motorized vehicles on our streets.  Please remember to drive slowly and carefully because children can appear without notice and people might unexpectedly walk in the middle of the street to keep the required physical six-foot separation.  Because of the importance of keeping that safe distance, and with more people outside, it is advisable to have a face mask ready whether walking, biking or otherwise enjoying the outdoors.  
 
I wish our Muslim neighbors an enjoyable start of Ramadan.
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 739 confirmed cases with 31 persons now hospitalized and seven persons in the intensive care unit.   One person passed away yesterday which brings the County’s death toll from COVID-19 to 30.  There are now 772 persons under mandatory quarantine and 54 persons in precautionary quarantine.  The County also noted that 1,825 people have completed quarantine, including 401 who tested positive and have recovered.  The County’s website (https://legacy.livestories.com/s/v2/covid-19-dashboard-albany-county-ny/dabd57f3-5285-4666-97fc-53c5bf4b8560/) provides demographic data in the County about COVID-19’s impacts.   John Hopkins University has national data broken down by county at: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/us-map.
 
At his press conference, Governor Cuomo reported that, for several consecutive days, the State’s number of deaths, hospitalizations, and intubations showed a decline which also indicates that the State was on the downside of the COVID-19 curve.  The Governor also announced the results of an antibody study involving 3,000 supermarket shoppers which showed that State-wide 13.9% of the population was positive for COVID-19 and that Upstate the rate was 3.6%.  The Governor said that this preliminary data supported a regional approach to reopening the economy but that the fact that persons can travel throughout the State was also an important factor in this decision.  
 
Today, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple delivered 8,600 washable cotton face masks (five masks per sealed package) to the Town for distribution to essential businesses.  I thank Sheriff Apple for this very generous and timely delivery.  We started delivering them to Town staff and local businesses where workers have continued to provide services to residents during this pandemic.  EMS and Police are also making the masks available to vulnerable persons.  In the next few days, we will let you know if there are any remaining masks available for pick-up at designated places for residents who do not have access to masks.      
 
Among the Governor’s 22 Executive Orders (https://www.governor.ny.gov/executive-orders) was a directive, the longest of about 287 directives so far, which would allow remote conferencing for marriage license applications and marriage ceremonies.   As I have repeatedly stated, I understand that the goal of these directives is to allow essential businesses and government functions to continue during this pandemic.  But, every so often, a directive leaves us here a bit puzzled.  Here’s the directive: 
Any issuance of a marriage license application, marriage license, or witnessing or solemnizing of the marriage ceremony, that is required under New York State law is authorized to be performed utilizing audio-video technology provided that the following conditions are met: The couple seeking the marriage services, must present valid photo ID to verify identity whenever required by law the (sic) during the video conference, not merely transmit it prior to or after; the video conference must allow for direct interaction between the couple and the town or city clerk, the witness or the person to solemnize the marriage (e.g. no pre-recorded videos of the person signing or engaged in the marriage ceremony); the couple must affirmatively represent that he or she is physically situated in the jurisdiction where the marriage is legally allowed to occur, within the State of New York; the couple must transmit by fax or electronic means a legible copy of the signed document directly to the town or city clerk, the witnesses, the person to solemnize the marriage on the same date it was signed; the town or city clerk, witness or person who solemnizes the marriage may sign the transmitted copy of the document and transmit the same back to the person responsible for the document by law; to the extent practicable, all parties will use their best efforts to ensure the document is transmitted in the most confidential manner and information will not be released to any third party not associated with the marriage license and marriage ceremony; and the electronic signed copy of the marriage license application or marriage license will become the official document for purposes of Domestic Relations Law. Local town and city clerks may provide guidance related to how marriage licensure applications and issuance will be implemented in their jurisdictions.
 
Now, that is very good news for eager couples whose wedding plans have been delayed by the pandemic’s restrictions.  This audio-visual option might be useful when applying for the marriage license but I’d be curious if any couple will actually hold a remote marriage ceremony. I am also not sure about the directive’s concluding statement which allows Town Clerk Lynne Buchanan to “provide guidance.”   In the end, it might just be easier for couples to contact the Town’s Marriage Officer Heather Weinhold (https://www.townofguilderland.org/town-clerks-office/pages/marriage-officer-listing) who knows how to perform in-person marriage ceremonies during the pandemic by maintaining physical separation and other health guidelines.  She has continued to perform outdoor wedding ceremonies in the Town Hall’s beautiful courtyard, including this afternoon with abundant sunshine, safely distant witnesses, and a very happy couple.   
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 713 confirmed cases with 33 persons now hospitalized and seven persons in the intensive care unit (ICU).  Four persons passed away yesterday which brings the County’s death toll from COVID-19 to 29.  There are now 811 persons under mandatory quarantine and 49 persons in precautionary quarantine.  As noted yesterday, the County is tracking the spread of the virus with the total of confirmed cases and details broken down by zip code, race, ethnicity, age, and gender as well as data on the number of people tested, hospitalizations, ICU admissions, death tally, and new positive cases.  Here is the link: https://legacy.livestories.com/s/v2/covid-19-dashboard-albany-county-ny/dabd57f3-5285-4666-97fc-53c5bf4b8560/.
 
At his daily press conference, Governor Cuomo announced that the number of deaths and other State-wide indicators showed continued progress in reversing the spread of the virus, including declines in the number of hospitalized patients, new admissions, and intubated patients.  The Governor again spoke about a "regional template" for reopening the economy based upon local data.  The key factor would be reduced infection rates which only can be assessed after doubling the number of tests to find positive cases.
 
Today is Earth Day, and for its 50th anniversary, the theme this year is climate change.  In the past few years, the Town has taken actions in response to climate change as recognized by its status as a “Clean Energy Community” by the NYS Energy Research Development Agency and as a “Climate Smart Community” by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Despite the pandemic, the Town will continue in response to climate change with: (1) the Community Choice Aggregation program under which the Town will join with other municipalities to purchase renewable energy at bulk rate prices for electric power for residents; (2) awarding a lease for  a solar facility on the Town’s closed landfill; (3) later this Spring, UAlbany Planning’s Graduate Studio will provide its report identifying a “green infrastructure” of non-motorized connections among neighborhoods, parks, schools, libraries, and businesses; and (4) last evening, the Town Board adopted a new local law on the proper siting of solar facilities with protections against visual impacts upon residences, important views and vistas, and historical places.  More information about these efforts and other environmental initiatives is available at: https://www.townofguilderland.org/supervisors-office/pages/environmental-initiatives.
 
As noted in prior updates, the Governor’s Executive Orders and subsequent directives by State agencies appear with regularity and almost always without notice.  Such was the case yesterday with Executive Order 202.22, which dealt exclusively with the esoteric topic of tax assessments and State filing deadlines with a particular focus on Westchester County’s process (that’s a long story).  But also included in the Order was the ability, “by local option,” to extend assessments dates elsewhere by as much as 30 days, limiting review of tentative rolls to online, and allowing conference calls for hearing grievances.  As I have mentioned in prior updates, the Town Assessor’s Office has been working overtime, despite the pandemic, to enter new property data and updated valuations so that the Assessor could file the tentative assessment roll by its State-mandated date of May 1st.   I also jokingly noted that, unlike golfers and boat owners, there was “no love” shown for the hard working staff in the Assessor’s Office.  That’s no longer the case.
 
With this Executive Order and the Town Board’s exercise of the “local option” last evening, the new filing date for the tentative assessment is May 15th, and the new grievance day is now Thursday, June 18th.   The final assessment role will be filed on July 20th.  Please continue to check the Assessor’s webpage (https://www.townofguilderland.org/assessors-office) for updated information, forms and revised grievance procedures.
 
And for my last mention of golf for at least a few days, please make sure that, before you pack your clubs and head to the Western Turnpike Golf Course, you are familiar with and will follow its COVID-19 guidelines which are available here: https://www.westernturnpike.com/.  And please make sure that you have reserved your tee time before arriving.
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:

In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 678 confirmed cases with 30 persons now hospitalized and nine persons in the intensive care unit (ICU).  Two persons passed away yesterday which brings the County’s death toll from COVID-19 to 23.  There are now 754 persons under mandatory quarantine and 41 persons in precautionary quarantine.  
 
The County unveiled a new website for tracking the spread of COVID-19 in the County.  The data, which will be updated daily, includes total confirmed cases and breakdowns by zip code and locality, race and ethnicity, age group, and gender.  The data also includes the number of people tested, hospitalizations, ICU admissions, death tally, and number of new positive cases.  Here is the link: https://legacy.livestories.com/s/v2/covid-19-dashboard-albany-county-ny/dabd57f3-5285-4666-97fc-53c5bf4b8560/.
 
At his daily press conference, Governor Cuomo announced that the number of deaths in the State related to COVID-19 had slightly increased, and that other indicators were unchanged or had declined including that the number of new hospital admissions was the lowest in three weeks, that the number of hospitalizations had declined for the eighth consecutive day, and the number of intubated patients had the largest drop since the start of the pandemic.  He also announced that some hospitals would be allowed to perform elective surgeries and treatments.  The Governor concluded that the primary goal was “do no harm” and that the State’s plan for reopening each region’s economy would require increased testing capacity.
 
By now, most of you have completed your 2020 Census household questionnaire.  If you have not yet completed it or did not receive the form, please visit (https://2020census.gov/) or call the Census Bureau at 1-844-330-2020.  Because of COVID-19, the Census Bureau has delayed field operations, including visits to households, until at least June 1st.  Town residents have responded well to the questionnaires but we could always do better: https://2020census.gov/en/response-rates.html (as of April 19th, the reported responses rates are Town (58.4%); County (49.7%), State (44.8%) and Nation (50.9%)).  An accurate and complete count ensures that we have proper representation in Federal, State and County legislative bodies, can have fairly drawn election district lines, and will receive our share of sales tax which is based upon the Town’s percentage of the County’s population.  
 
After an Executive Order, two directives, and a timely weekend clarification - all in one week -, the Western Turnpike Golf Course will open for the season at Noon on Thursday, April 23rd under strict requirements.  The driving range will also reopen at the same time.  Please bear in mind that the course will operate under COVID-19 restrictions, including, but not limited to, no gatherings, no carts, and no pro shop.  Also, you must have a pre-reserved tee time which you can make online starting at 8am on Wednesday, April 22nd at https://www.westernturnpike.com/, and by phone starting at 8am on Thursday, April 23rd at (518) 456-0786.  The Nines at Western Turnpike, the course’s new restaurant, will offer daily to-go lunches between 10:30am until dusk by calling (518) 608-1025.  A menu will be posted at the golfer’s check-in and posted soon at:  https://www.facebook.com/theninesatwesternturnpike/.  Now, all we need is better weather.
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Monday, April 20, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 656 confirmed cases with 35 persons now hospitalized and nine persons in the intensive care unit (ICU).  One person passed away yesterday which brings the County’s death toll from COVID-19 to 23. There are now 784 persons under mandatory quarantine and 38 persons in precautionary quarantine. The County noted that 1,555 people have completed quarantine, including 323 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.  County Executive Daniel P. McCoy announced that, starting Wednesday, there will be another drive-up testing site at the Rite-Aid store located at 1853 Central Avenue in Colonie. The testing will take place every day from 9am to 5pm, by appointment only starting tomorrow at http://www.riteaid.com.
 
At his press conference this morning, Governor Cuomo reported that the State’s daily death toll, rate of hospitalizations, and persons on ventilators continued to decline, and that the State was on the downside of the COVID-19 curve.  The Governor added that it would take more time to determine how long a descent must take before the reopening or expansion of non-essential businesses and schools. He expressed concern that with warming weather and more people leaving their homes that the infection rate could increase.  The Governor continued to stress that the continued progress against the spread of the virus was dependent upon strict adherence to physical separation and wearing of face masks in public if unable to maintain a minimum six-foot separation.
 
Governor Cuomo also said that the NYS DOH was beginning a State-wide antibody testing by starting first with a testing sample of 3,000 random persons.  The survey is a precursor to large-scale antibody testing to determine the percentage of the State’s population that may be immune to the COVID-19. More information is here: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/amid-ongoing-covid-19-pandemic-governor-cuomo-announces-statewide-antibody-testing-survey-will
 
The United States Chamber of Commerce has launched today the Save Small Business Fund which provides a limited number of $5,000 grants for small businesses with 3 to 20 employees, located in an economically vulnerable community (most area zip codes are eligible), and were financially harmed by COVID-19.  The application became live today. You can learn more at: https://www.savesmallbusiness.com/.
 
Starting this week, the Town will resume holding meetings of the Town Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, Planning Board, and Industrial Development Agency under the Governor’s Executive Orders.  Executive Order 202.1 suspended the Open Meetings Law “to permit any public body to meet and take such actions authorized by the law without permitting in public in-person access to meetings and authorizing such meetings to be held remotely by conference call or similar service, provided that the public has the ability to view or listen to such proceeding and that such meetings are recorded and later transcribed.”   
 
The Town will broadcast board meetings live on Verizon channel 34, Spectrum channel 1303, and on the Town website (https://www.townofguilderland.org/town-meeting-videos), and later recordings of the meetings with indexing and minutes will be posted on the Town website.  The Town will supplement the Order’s requirements by allowing public comment during the broadcast by dialing (518) 579-3721.   
 
The first meeting under this approved alternative procedure is tomorrow’s Town Board meeting at 7pm.  On Wednesday, April 22nd at 7pm, the Planning Board will follow the same process.  Copies of both boards’ agendas are available at: https://www.townofguilderland.org/minutes-and-agendas.  Based upon the State’s guidance, and today’s comments by the Governor, there is little chance for large in-person public meetings for the foreseeable future.   
 
Yesterday’s beautiful weather greatly increased usage and enjoyment of the Town’s park system and open space.  The Parks Department staff reported that trails at Tawasentha Park and Vosburgh Open Space were very busy, and that attendance at other parks was much heavier than normal.  Other than the occasional kind reminder, there were no problems with keeping adequate physical distancing. No word yet on the opening of the golf course. Your quickest update is at: https://www.westernturnpike.com/.
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are, on a cumulative basis, 651 confirmed cases with 32 persons now hospitalized and seven persons in the intensive care unit (ICU).  Two persons passed away yesterday which brings the County’s death toll from COVID-19 to 22. There are now 797 persons under mandatory quarantine and 38 persons in precautionary quarantine. The County noted that 1,555 people have completed quarantine, including 323 persons who had tested positive and have recovered.
 
At his press conference this morning, Governor Cuomo said that the State’s daily death toll had fallen to its lowest level in two weeks and that the rate of hospitalizations and persons on ventilators has markedly declined.  The Governor stated that: “If the data holds and if this trend holds, we are past the high point, and all indications at this point are that we are on a descent.” The Governor concluded that continued progress depends on our diligent adherence to physical separation and wearing of face masks in public places if unable to maintain a minimum six-foot separation.
 
The Guilderland Farmer’s Market is now open online with orders that can be picked up starting next Sunday, April 26th:  https://www.guilderlandfarmersmarket.com/online-market.  As of today, a growing number of vendors are offering maple syrup, duck and chicken eggs, various cuts of beef, duck, chicken, pork, and sausage, smoked meats, jambalaya, marinara and tomato sauce, arts and craft, and much more.  Your online order can be picked at the Star Plaza parking lot at the corner of Western Avenue and State Route 155. You wait in your vehicle for delivery.  
 
The Guilderland Food Pantry needs your help in its ongoing efforts against food insecurity in our community.  The severe economic downturn has greatly increased demands for food support. The Pantry is seeking volunteers (https://guilderlandfoodpantry.com/) and accepts monetary donations online at: https://guilderlandfoodpantry.ccbchurch.com/goto/giving.   Please try to help if you can.
 
In yesterday’s email update, I noted the apparent ambiguity in Friday’s directive, which followed a week old directive barring the opening of golf courses, which might now allow courses to open under strict health guidelines.  I had noted that the Town was waiting for clarification before opening Western Turnpike Golf Course. Well, that did not take long, and in this Upside Down world, even State directives can abruptly change with no notice. Within an hour, a State spokeswoman issued a “clarification” that golf courses can open under COVID-19 guidelines.  According to the Albany Times-Union, the spokeswoman even said that under the State’s directive, “If it’s a public golf course, they can do what they want (as far as opening).”  Who knew that it was so simple?
 
With this clarification, Western Turnpike Golf Course is making plans to open.  Please check the course’s website (https://www.westernturnpike.com/) for the latest update on when the course will open and under what conditions golf can be played.   
 
In case you missed it during the frenzy over golf, yesterday the State granted a reprieve to marinas, boatyards and marine manufacturers from the dreaded “However” prohibitions, and now too can open for personal use “as long as strict social distancing and sanitizations protocols are followed.”  Here’s the link for more information: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/amid-ongoing-covid-19-pandemic-governor-cuomo-governor-murphy-governor-lamont-announce.   
 
And before you make firm plans for golfing or boating, please remember that an Executive Order, guidance, and now, especially, a “clarification” can appear without notice.  
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

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  

 

Friday, April 17, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are 574 confirmed cases with 34 persons hospitalized and six persons in the intensive care unit (ICU).  The death toll from COVID-19 remains at 20. There are now 716 persons under mandatory quarantine and 49 persons in precautionary quarantine. The County noted that 1,448 people have completed quarantine, including 301 persons who had tested positive, and have recovered.
 
At his press conference this morning, Governor Cuomo said that there are more indicators of progress against the spread of COVID-19 including a decline in the number of hospitalizations.  The three-day average of hospitalized patients, a recognized measure in gauging the spread of the virus, had also declined for the third straight day. The Governor made clear that further progress in fighting the spread of the virus depends on physical separation, including the new directive, as of 8pm this evening, that residents must wear face coverings if unable to maintain a minimum six-foot separation.
 
The Governor announced his blueprint to “un-pause New York” by getting people back to work and easing social isolation without triggering renewed spread of the virus.  Because the reopening of businesses and expanding Town services is dependent upon the Governor’s Executive Orders, I am sharing the Governor’s blueprint here:   
  1. Do No Harm - Step one is to continue controlling the rate of infection. This includes extending the NY Pause order until May 15th and implementing additional measures to reduce the rate of infection, including requiring masks in public when social distancing is not possible.
  2. Strengthening the healthcare system - Step two is continuing the surge and flex strategy to ensure anyone who needs medical attention gets it, building out the strategic stockpile of PPE and other medical equipment, and sharing resources amongst states and localities.
  3. Testing and Contact Tracing - The best tool to inform decisions and calibrate progress of any phased reopening of the economy is through both diagnostic and antibody testing. The states need the federal government to partner on this effort and bring it to the mass scale that is needed. With the help of an army of investigators, contact tracing needs to be done to help limit the virus spread.
  4. Phased Return to "New Normal"
 
Evaluating Risk by Industry: The 'Un-Pause NY' approach is designed to open businesses in phases of priority.  Businesses considered "more essential" with inherent low risks of infection in the workplace and to customers will be prioritized, followed by other businesses considered "less essential" or those that present a higher risk of infection spread.  As the infection rate declines, the pace of reopening businesses will be increased.
 
Precautions and Practices for businesses to consider to guide phased return to "new normal":  
 
Transport: Ensure employees have means for safe transport (i.e., masks, gloves for public transit) or require telecommuting/work from home.
 
Workplace: Ensure workplaces are designed to include social distancing measures (i.e., desks six feet apart, conference rooms redesigned), telecommuting for those who can and the most vulnerable.
 
Customer Interaction: Ensure measures designed to ensure minimal contact with customers, ensure public-interacting employees have necessary protective supplies such as gloves, masks, etc. Special precautions should be taken for businesses that primarily interact with the most vulnerable populations.
 
Proactive Infection Plan: Ensure protocols in place should an employee develop COVID-19 symptoms or test positive (i.e. work from home plan).
 
At the Town level, we have continued to adhere to the Governor’s Executive Orders and health guidelines by keeping Town buildings closed to the public, recently closing the Town golf course and playgrounds, and providing face coverings for employees in contact with the public.
 
It is important to stress that the Town never hit “pause” in providing “essential services” to residents at any point during this pandemic.  The Highway and Water & Wastewater Departments, which recently expanded daily staff, have maintained the Town’s infrastructure. The Transfer Station has remained open, and recently held a successful Household Hazardous Waste Day event in the midst of the pandemic.  The Parks Department restored hiking trails, repaired winter damage, and is now improving cart paths at Western Turnpike Golf Course for walkers. Building and Fire inspectors have performed safety inspections and issued building permits for mostly homeowner improvements.  The Assessor’s Office remains working on State-mandated tax assessment filings, and has performed the occasional wedding ceremony. The Town Clerk has processed tax payments, death certificates, and other important documents. The Comptroller’s Office has paid vendor invoices, submitted requests for State reimbursement, and managed the Town’s finances.  Dispatch, Police, and EMS have continued to operate at full service and have never delayed in responding to emergencies.  
 
I am very proud of the work performed by Town employees during this crisis, and we eagerly look forward to a return to normalcy, and the full restoration of services.
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor
 

 

Thursday, April 16, 2020 

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are 563 confirmed cases with 32 persons hospitalized and 8 adults in the intensive care unit (ICU).  The death toll from COVID-19 remains at 20. There are now 668 persons under mandatory quarantine and 66 persons in precautionary quarantine.   
 
County DOH stated that 1378 people, including 282 positive cases, had completed quarantine.   The County also noted that the number of confirmed cases is cumulative since the start of the crisis, and that this number had increased because of added testing sites, but that there had not been an increase in the rate of hospitalizations.  The County also stated that the number of people in precautionary quarantine continued to decline because successful physical separation measures had resulted in reduced contacts.
 
At his daily press conference today, Governor Cuomo announced that he will issue an Executive Order that will keep schools and non-essential businesses closed until Friday, May 15th.   The Governor stated that the daily death toll in the State had fallen to the lowest level in 10 days, that the number of intubated patients fell for the fifth day out of the past six, that the number of patients in ICU continued to decline, and that the three-day average of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, considered among the best indicators of the virus’s spread, had declined for the second day in a row.  Despite the favorable statistics, the Governor concluded that continued progress would be required before he considered lifting gathering restrictions.
 
As you may know, the Governor also issued Executive Order 202.17 about the required wearing of face coverings in public.  To avoid confusion, here’s the directive: “Effective at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 17, 2020 any individual who is over age two and able to medically tolerate a face-covering shall be required to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face-covering when in a public place and unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance.”  The face-coverings do not require medical grade masks and that you can use a scarf, bandanna, handkerchief, or other cloth mask. The Centers for Disease Control has issued guidelines on how to make, clean and properly wear a cloth covering: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html.
 
While the Town-owned Western Turnpike Golf Course remains closed under the Governor’s Executive Order, the course’s new Italian restaurant, The Nines at Western Turnpike, is open for takeout dinner orders on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays evenings (sorry, it may be too late for  tonight). Please visit its website for menu options and directions on when and how to place, and pick-up your orders:  https://www.facebook.com/115576026551157/posts/213478750094217/.
 
Even though the course is closed for playing golf, its cart paths are open for your enjoyment.  I have received many compliments about the course’s beautiful setting and abundant wildlife. Today, course staff started repairing paths damaged by winter weather by milling and rolling damaged areas to provide a smooth surface, and have it readied for paving in a few weeks.  Please remember to stay off the greens and fairways. The maintenance staff has removed or trimmed dead or damaged trees, improved the short game area, and added a new outdoor sitting area. 
 
Today, the Highway Department completed, a day early, a Town-wide pick-up of leaf bags and tied brush bundles, and, with a one-half crew, expects to resume next week its regular pick-up schedule of bags on a weekly basis.   Please remember that crews make these pick-ups year round. If weather permits and there are warmer temperatures, Highway employees will begin restoring lawns in the Town’s right of way which were damaged by snow plows. And, as evidenced by today’s snow, these guys know what they are doing, that April weather here is at best finicky, and it is often better to be patient and wait.    
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are 515 confirmed cases with 29 persons hospitalized and 12 adults in the intensive care unit (ICU).  There were four deaths yesterday from COVID-19 which brings the County’s death toll to 20. There are now 663 persons under mandatory quarantine and 71 persons in precautionary quarantine. 
 
County Executive Dan McCoy announced four new mobile testing sites to help residents in areas where data shows patients have a higher probability of underlying medical conditions that could increase the likelihood of death.  The sites are walk-up and require an appointment by calling (518) 465-4771. Please visit the County’s website for information about each site’s location and operating hours: https://www.albanycounty.com/departments/health/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-results
 
In his daily press conference, Governor Cuomo announced that he would sign an Executive Order (his 16th) which, as of Saturday, will require the wearing of face coverings in public when minimum six-foot separation is not possible.  The Governor noted that a key indicator regarding the spread of the virus was the three-day average of hospitalization which declined for the first time since the start of the crisis.   The Governor said that the State was working on a staged plan, akin to building a bridge, for reopening businesses, and emphasized the importance of reliable testing. The State’s website (www.ny.gov/covid-19tracker) has County-level details on the numbers of tests and results.   
 
Today is Tax Filing Day but not necessarily this year.  As you should know by now, today’s filing date for both State and Federal tax returns has been postponed until July 15th.  No late-filing penalty, late-payment penalty or interest will be due.  But, of course, that does not mean that you should wait if you are expecting a refund this year or might change your eligibility for the stimulus check discussed below.
 
A visit to the IRS website is rarely a positive experience, but since we are in our own Upside Down world (not as bad as in Stranger Things, a good show to try during these strange times: https://strangerthings.fandom.com/wiki/The_Upside_Down), I recommend giving it a try.  While at the IRS website, you can, as of earlier today, check on the status of your Federal stimulus payment (https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments).  You can also provide direct deposit information for your payment, and, even if you do not file a tax return, you can provide information to determine eligibility for a stimulus payment. 
 
As another sign of normalcy, DOT has advised that the repaving of Carman Road from Western Avenue to Coons Road by a private contractor is scheduled to commence in mid to late May.  Given the pandemic’s ongoing impact on operations, this schedule could still change. The construction of the new Carman Road/Lydius Street roundabout and paving the remainder of Carman Road is still on schedule for next year, and is currently in design review.  Because this project is under a Federal reimbursement program, DOT plans to schedule a second public workshop for the designed project later this year. Please visit the Town website for updates and sign-up for Nixle and email alerts and notices (https://www.townofguilderland.org/subscribe).
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor
 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are 475 confirmed cases with 38 persons hospitalized and 16 adults in the intensive care unit (ICU).  There were two deaths yesterday from COVID-19 which brings the County’s death toll to 14. There are now 638 persons under mandatory quarantine and 74 persons in precautionary quarantine. 
 
In his daily press conference, Governor Cuomo announced that rates of new hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and intubated patients (requiring a respirator) continued to decline, and that number of hospitalizations had declined for the first time since the start of the pandemic.  The Governor again stated that the spread of the virus was at its apex. While the Governor expressed some optimism, he concluded that the continued success against the spread of the virus remains staying the course by keeping non-essential businesses closed and maintaining a minimum six-foot separation.   The New York Times has an interesting article about the importance of the minimum six-foot separation: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/14/health/coronavirus-six-feet.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage.
 
On Thursday, April 16th from 8:30 to 9:30am, Assemblymembers Patricia Fahy and John McDonald are hosting a Small Business Survival Forum with the Center for Economic Growth and Albany Small Business Development Center.   The event, which will focus on helping small business owners to understand Federal and State resources to address the economic impacts of the pandemic, can be accessed here: https://www.facebook.com/events/221544132449628/.
As a sure sign of spring and another step towards a return to normalcy, the Guilderland Farmers Market is taking orders online (https://www.guilderlandfarmersmarket.com/) for pickup at noon each Sunday, starting April 26th, at the Star Plaza parking lot at the corner of Western Avenue and Route 155.  For delivery, you wait in your vehicle in the parking lot for your order.   
 
After three weeks of only one-third of staff reporting each week to perform “essential services,” the Highway Department has increased staffing to one-half each week and is continuing to follow all health guidelines by deploying more vehicles for physical separation.  The Department’s short term focus is collecting leaf bags and brush by using two packer trucks and a separate crew with three dump trucks and a loader. The goal is a complete pick-up throughout the Town by week’s end. The repair of lawns damaged by snow removal is on hold until the ground is warm enough for grass seed germination.   In the next month, crews will also start blacktop work and winter repairs.  
 
Last Saturday’s Household Hazardous Waste Day and Confidential Document Shredding Event was a success and even more so, when held during a pandemic with fewer staff present.  Under the Governor’s Executive Orders, waste removal and recycling activities are designated “essential services.” Over 200 vehicles dropped off enough quantities of hazardous material to fill a tractor trailer for proper handling and disposal by the on-site DEC-certified contractor.  Due to cold and blustery weather, a few drivers opened doors and windows to show identification or ask questions. There are also new participants every year who are not familiar with the process of staying in the vehicle and letting employees remove the material. The contractor’s and Town employees followed health protocols by minimizing physical contacts, the regular use of hand sanitizers, and taking turns with each vehicle.  I thank Foreman Dave Corey and his crew Ken Celebucki, Mike Colvin, Brian Cook, Al Giniel, Paul Davis, Donna Diana, Rich Perras, Jim Roberts, Eric Scanlon, and Jim Wolcott, for the successful running of this important event for our environment.  
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Monday, April 13, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:

 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are 475 confirmed cases with 38 persons hospitalized and 16 adults in the intensive care unit (ICU).  There were two deaths yesterday from COVID-19 which brings the County’s death toll to 14. There are now 638 persons under mandatory quarantine and 74 persons in precautionary quarantine. 
 
County Health Commissioner Dr. Elizabeth Whalen said that the number of 475 confirmed cases was cumulative and that 216 persons had since recovered.  Dr. Whalen also stated that 1,235 residents have been released from mandatory quarantine. The County had not previously released these numbers. Dr. Whalen emphasized that, while the virus was particularly deadly for seniors with pre-existing conditions, young persons had died.   
 
In his daily press conference, Governor Cuomo announced that the rates of hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths from COVID-19 continued to decline in the state but noted that the daily death rate remained tragically high and there are nearly 2000 daily admissions.  The Governor stated that the “worst is over” and that the spread of the virus is under control. The Governor announced that the next step was a regional economic plan designed by experts including revised “essential businesses,” incremental reopening steps, vigorous testing, treatment protocols, and enforced health precautions.  The Governor concluded that the continued success remains staying the course by maintaining a minimum six-foot separation and keeping non-essential businesses closed.   
 
As you might guess, after sixteen Executive Orders as of today, containing about an estimated 238 well-intentioned separate directives, there is some amount of ambiguity or just new thinking as conditions have changed over the past month.  Such was the fate of golf courses and playgrounds whose use was encouraged and then abruptly prohibited last Thursday (https://esd.ny.gov/guidance-executive-order-2026). 
 
That’s also true for the Building Department which, for weeks, sought to decipher which construction services were “essential” under broadly written exceptions in the directive, among which was permitting construction activities to “continue on a project if it would be unsafe to allow to remain undone until it is safe to shut the site.”  Other exceptions included road and bridge construction, and job sites with a single worker.
 
Chief Building Inspector Jackie Coons consulted with fellow inspectors, reviewed the NYS Building and Fire Code and Property Maintenance Code, and spoke with the Empire State Development, the enforcer of last Thursday’s directive, to develop a consistent meaning among inspectors on what was “unsafe” and what was “safe.”  At the same time, Jackie responded to complaints from concerned citizens who shared their own interpretations on what was allowed and asked her to take action. With the goal of consistent enforcement, Town inspectors visited and revisited job sites at homes and businesses to explain the new restrictions and review steps for compliance.  There are about 50 active building permits with more than 80% involving house improvements. The same directive which stopped the imminent opening of the Town’s golf course also contains new guidelines (and revised interpretations) for what are essential construction activities but no help or guidance on what is meant by “unsafe” or “safe.”  I thank Jackie for her consistent leadership during this difficult period, and her deft handling of constantly changing rules.    
 
Thank you for staying safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are now 453 confirmed cases with 40 persons hospitalized and 13 adults in the intensive care unit (ICU).  The County’s death toll remains at 12. There are now 638 persons under mandatory quarantine and 74 persons in precautionary quarantine. 
 
In his daily press conference, Governor Cuomo stated that the rate of hospitalizations and admissions to ICUs had continued to fall and that, while the death rate was lower, it remained at tragic levels.  In noting his sharing of similar data for several days, the Governor remarked that his experience was like the film Groundhog Day.  He urged residents to keep a minimum six-foot separation.  The Governor planned to issue an Executive Order requiring essential businesses to provide employees with cloth or surgical face masks when interacting with the public.
 
The Governor also reminded residents that the NYS Health Insurance Marketplace has an ongoing second open enrollment period to assist workers displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure all workers are covered.  Please remember that this new open enrollment period only lasts until Wednesday, April 15th: https://nystateofhealth.ny.gov.   NYS DOH again strongly urges residents who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate blood because of antibodies in plasma which is vital to treatment. Here is the link:  https://nybc.org/donate-blood/convalescent-plasma-covid-19-donor-request-form/.
 
On Friday, the Treasury Department launched a web tool to help people who do not typically file tax returns receive their coronavirus relief payments.  The free tool enables non-filers to provide the IRS with their name, address, Social Security number, bank account information and information about any dependents.  Here is the link: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here.
 
I thank Stuyvesant Plaza for its generous donation of $10,000 in gift cards to employees of St. Peter’s Hospital and Albany Medical Center.  The gift cards were purchased from Stuyvesant Plaza’s restaurants that provide takeout and delivery orders. You can support local businesses by shopping online or in person at essential businesses.  The Guilderland Chamber of Commerce has an updated list of open local businesses: https://www.guilderlandchamber.com/guilderland- small-business-hub/.
 
In 33 consecutive daily emails to you, I have sought to keep residents informed and urge you to stay safe and calm.  When I started these emails more than a month ago, I had no idea that these efforts and our Town would catch the attention of the national media including an article, Keeping Calm in Guilderland, New York in the Time of the Coronavirus, published in The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/personal-history/keeping-calm-in-guilderland-new-york-in-the-time-of-the-coronavirus.   This article was written by my daughter with a photo credit from my son.  Both are journalists and provide designated “essential services.” Despite this ongoing pandemic, I try to share positive signs, and I’m sure, like many of you, having your children and loved ones safe at home is an unexpected blessing with unanticipated consequences and sometimes even something very special.
 
Thank you for continuing to stay safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor  

 

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are now 424 confirmed cases with 36 persons hospitalized and 14 adults in the intensive care unit (ICU).  The County's death toll remains at 12. There are now 498 persons under mandatory quarantine and 66 persons in precautionary quarantine. 
 
In his daily press conference, Governor Cuomo reported that hospitalization rates and ICU admissions related to COVID-19 continue to decline both State-wide and Upstate, and that the death rate, a lagging indicator in measuring the spread of the virus, has stabilized at a staggering level and devastating loss of life.  The Governor emphasized that our continued successful fight against this pandemic is dependent upon keeping a minimum six-foot separation from each other; regular washing of hands with soap for at least 20 seconds; coughing and sneezing in the inside of your elbow; disinfecting of surfaces; and wearing a cloth face cover when out in public.  Here’s a helpful link about cloth face covers: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html.
 
This blustery weekend is another good reason to see what is offered online 24 hours every day at the Guilderland Public Library (https://guilderlandlibrary.org/).  Don’t let the continued closing of the Library building stop you from exploring wonderful choices of downloadable movies, TV shows, how-to-guides, e-books, audiobooks, The New York Times, magazines, Healthy at Home resources,  and much more.  You just need a library card which you can get online here: https://sierra.uhls.org/selfreg.   With that card, you’ll have access to the Library’s online resources and all 29 libraries in the Upper Hudson Library System (https://www.uhls.org/).
 
My tour of Town departments focuses today on the “essential services” provided by the Water and Wastewater Department under the leadership of Superintendent Timothy McIntyre and Assistant Superintendent William Bremigen.  Because of mandated physical separation, the Department now has one-third of its employees working each day. This reduced staff operates the water filtration and wastewater facility, performs seasonal flushing of water mains to remove built-up sediment, and responds to emergency water breaks and sewer backups.  I thank these workers for serving the community.   
 
I am pleased to report that this health crisis has not halted the Town’s progress on the new water interconnection between Guilderland and Rotterdam.  With the pump house’s construction completed, the connection should be active next month after final pressure tests and installing telemetry for communicating with the filtration plant.  The new connection allows the Town to purchase 45 million gallons of water per year from Rotterdam. Because this is aquifer water, it does not require expensive treatment at the filtration plant and will reduce the use of chemicals for treating algae and other organic material found in surface water at the Watervliet Reservoir.  
 
This project, which also extended water line to homes with failing wells on State Route 158, refurbished the Fort Hunter Water Tower, and looped the system, cost $3,475,371 of which 60% or $2,085,223 was covered by a State grant with the balance paid from Water reserves. Sorry if there’s too much detail, but I want to continue sharing news that the pandemic has not prevented the Town from completing projects for the long-term benefit of residents.  
 
The Governor’s Executive Orders bar non-essential construction activities with significant exceptions including work on roads and bridges.  NYS Thruway has reported that its replacement of the Old State Road bridge over the Thruway started on time and remains on pace for a November conclusion.  I also received NYS DOT’s letter advising the Mayor of Albany and me about its rehabilitation of the Washington Avenue bridge over Fuller Road in the City of Albany.  This informative letter stated that the work would start on Monday, with at least one lane open at all times, and maybe as another harbinger of a return to normalcy, it assured that there would be no lane closures during morning and afternoon peak travel periods.  What impressed me even more was the care shown by DOT in copying the letter to 28 first responder agencies and transportation officials. It is yet another example of how public servants have continued to perform essential services during stressful times. 
 
Thank you for continuing to stay safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

Friday, April 10, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are now 397 confirmed cases with 38 persons hospitalized and 14 adults in the intensive care unit (ICU).  There was a death yesterday from COVID-19 which brings the County’s death toll to 12. There are now 520 persons under mandatory quarantine and 75 persons in precautionary quarantine. 
 
In his daily press conference, Governor Cuomo announced that, for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic, the number of patients in the ICU had dropped and the number of hospital admissions remained flat.  The Governor reported that, while the number of deaths had also fallen, that figure remained high. He emphasized that confirmed cases continued to increase. The Governor concluded that the decrease in the numbers of hospitalized patients and persons in ICU was happening sooner than expected, and were further indications that the virus was at or near its apex.
 
I was asked by the NYS Department of Labor to provide an update on its new processing of unemployment cases.  In response to the flawed and frustrating launch, and the record number of claims, the State streamlined the application process with fewer questions and, if there are questions, the DOL will call the applicant within 72 hours after their application is submitted.  You can access the application process here: https://labor.ny.gov/unemploymentassistance.shtm.  The Governor also announced that the State will offer $600 in additional weekly unemployment benefits and would extend the benefits for an additional 13 weeks for a total of 39 weeks.  The new provisions related to COVID-19 also expand eligibility for unemployment benefits to self-employed and part-time workers.
 
The Governor also issued an Executive Order (that’s 15 if you are curious) which allows all eligible voters to vote by absentee ballot for the June 23rd primaries.  You can apply for an absentee ballot online at https://www.elections.ny.gov/votingabsentee.htm.
 
To help in its development of a treatment, NYS DOH is asking for any person who has recovered from COVID-19 to consider donating blood.  DOH is seeking to increase the supply of convalescent plasma which has antibodies against the virus and could help with the development of a treatment for the virus.  You can obtain more information about donating here: https://nybc.org/donate-blood/convalescent-plasma-covid-19-donor-request-form/.   Due to cancelled blood drives, the supply of blood remains low.  You can help in our fight against COVID-19 by making appointments for blood donations at www.RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.  
 
We are all in the midst of our collective “upside down” world which scuttles, often without warning, longstanding and anticipated plans.  Such was the case yesterday when Empire State Development Corp.’s new guidance forced the Town’s abrupt closure of playgrounds and golf facilities.   It was very unfortunate because Parks staff had worked hard to make these recreational facilities ready for your enjoyment during these very stressful times.  The staff also had diligently monitored compliance with COVID-19 health requirements and made adjustments for your safety.
 
Please note that, while the golf course is closed, the Western Turnpike Golf Course is also a Town-owned open space and that the cart paths over rolling hills and vista views remain open to the public.  You will see reminders about staying on the paths, and off the green and fairways. You will also see Town staff there every day, including weekends, maintaining the course for its opening. Please also remember that, while playgrounds are closed, all Town parks, open space and trails remain open, and that everyone must keep a minimum six-foot separation.     
 
Upon behalf of the Town, I wish a happy Passover, happy Easter, and weekend to all. 
 
Thank you for continuing to stay safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

 

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are now 365 confirmed cases with 34 persons hospitalized and 14 adults in the intensive care unit (ICU).  There were two deaths yesterday from COVID-19 which brings the County’s death toll to 11. There are now 477 persons under mandatory quarantine and 50 persons in precautionary quarantine. 
 
At his daily press conference today, Governor Cuomo stated that for the third day in a row, the State had the highest number of deaths from the virus.  And yet, despite the tragic loss of life, the Governor reported hopeful signs including a continuing decline in hospital and ICU admissions, and that, if these trends continue, the State may pass the apex of the virus.  The Governor emphasized that the State would continue enforcing social distancing and other restrictions to maintain the progress in preventing the spread of the virus.   
 
Based upon recent studies which show that a significant number of persons carrying COVID-19 are asymptomatic and can spread the virus to others without showing symptoms, NYS DOH last night issued new guidance supporting the wearing of “cloth face coverings,” and not N95 or surgical masks, when out in public and the minimum six-foot separation is difficult.  The recommended places included pharmacies and stores. You can obtain more information about all recommended methods for protection at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/protect-yourself-and-your-family-coronavirus-covid-19
 
I extend gratitude to Quick Response & Restoration, Inc. and its workers for their donation of time and supplies to clean and disinfect police vehicles, public spaces in Town Hall, Guilderland Fire Department’s firehouse, and EMS’s Station 1.  This work was carefully and professionally performed and ended with first responders’ facilities and equipment readied for their continued vital role in the Town’s response to this pandemic. I can’t thank local businesses enough for their donations of services and supplies in support of the Town’s response.   
 
As we all well know now, we are living in a “topsy turvy” world in which what was good one day (recyclable bags) and what was bad (plastic bags) have flipped roles in our grocery stores.  The same is unfortunately true for what were, until this morning, designated “essential services” provided by the Parks Department at the Western Turnpike Golf Course (WTGC) and playgrounds in Town parks.  The WTGC’s driving range opened on Monday with patrons enjoying fine weather and adhering to physical separation and other health guidelines, and despite the rain, the WTGC’s course was scheduled to open this weekend.  The same was true for playgrounds where families and children were also following posted guidelines.  

 

But that unfortunately ends today, and until further notice, because of today’s guidelines by the Empire State Development Corp. (https://esd.ny.gov/guidance-executive-order-2026) which changes what recreational activities qualify as “essential services”: 

  • Parks and other open public spaces, except playgrounds and other areas of congregation where social distancing cannot be abided
  • However, golf courses are not essential
  • However, use of boat launches and marinas for recreational vessels is not considered essential

I rarely like sentences starting with “However;” they almost always bring bad news.

I’m not a golfer and I have no small children but I understand the importance of these recreational activities to residents and how their springtime opening was a harbinger for our return to normalcy.  But that’s what happens when the State is making every effort to stop the spread of this pandemic. And while the Town is exempt from these essential business restrictions, we strictly adhere to all restrictions and health guidelines for non-essential, in-person workforce and other operations, and will follow these new restrictions at the Town’s recreational facilities.  Please check the WTGC’s website for updates (https://www.westernturnpike.com/), particularly if there is further clarification about the driving range or golf course operations.  
 
Thank you for continuing to stay safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

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
Town Supervisor  

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are now 309 confirmed cases with 39 persons hospitalized and 13 adults in the intensive care unit (ICU).  There were no deaths yesterday or overnight from COVID-19, and remains at eight. There are now 459 persons under mandatory quarantine and 57 persons in precautionary quarantine.
 
Two paramedics in the Town’s Department of Emergency Services (EMS) have tested positive for COVID-19.   Both medics are asymptomatic and resting well at home under quarantine. The EMS followed County DOH’s guidance which identified additional staff for testing.  Test results are forthcoming and all staff members are asymptomatic. EMS is adhering to State DOH protocols which set forth conditions under which essential personnel, including medics and emergency medical technicians, may return to work following COVID-19 exposure or infection.  There has been no impact upon system status or the full deployment of ambulances and fly cars. The County has reported that 90% of new cases over the past week were first responders and emergency workers who are on the forefront of dealing with people possibly sickened by coronavirus.  I thank EMS staff for dedicated service to our community in response to this pandemic.
 
In today’s press conference, Governor Cuomo stated that yesterday the State had its largest single-day number of deaths but that the number of deaths was a lagging indicator in the fight against the virus.  The Governor noted that the rate of hospitalizations continued to decrease, and the number of patients in ICUs over the past day was the lowest since March 21st.  The Governor stated that the State was still projecting a plateauing of the spread of the virus.  The Governor announced that planning was underway to restart the regional economy. The Governor concluded that our collective fight against the spread of COVID-19 is our continued adherence to a minimum six-foot physical separation from each other and other well-known guidelines.  
With the Governor’s announcement yesterday that all schools and non-essential businesses are closed through April 29th, Town facilities will also remain closed to the public until further notice.  Your best way to contact the Town for non-emergency services is by email and letter as noted on the Town website.  Because of very limited staff on duty, your phone calls may not be answered or returned for days.  
 
If you have questions about the new State FY 2020-21 budget, please join Assemblymembers Patricia Fahy and John McDonald tomorrow Wednesday, April 8th from 3 pm to 4:30pm for a virtual public town hall on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/846266339205746/.
 
The continued closure of most local businesses will likely exacerbate a crisis in our local economy.  The Guilderland Chamber of Commerce has helped by launching an online small business hub with updated information on how we can support our local businesses, in person at essential service businesses and online:  https://www.guilderlandchamber.com/guilderland-small-business-hub/.  Before making the trip, please call ahead because some businesses are operating with limited hours.  If you believe that your business is an essential service but was not included in the State’s approved list, you can apply for designation as an “essential service” business at https://esd.ny.gov/content/request-designation-essential-business-purposes-executive-order-2026.
 
The Capital District YMCA is providing daycare for school-aged children of employees who provide “essential services” as identified by the State.  More information, including registration and fees, and list of “essential services” is available at www.CDYMCA.org/EmergencyChildcare or at (518) 869-3500.   Health Research, Inc., a nonprofit organization, has started First Responders Fund which assists first responders and health care workers who have endured added expenses, including child care costs, due to their frontline fight against COVID-19.  You can help by donating and clicking on the COVID-19 box at https://www.healthresearch.org/donation-form/.
 
This year’s Household Hazardous Waste Day and Confidential Document Shredding are still scheduled for this Saturday, April 11th from 8:00am to 2:00pm at the Highway Department garage.  This event will strictly adhere to COVID-19 guidelines by having the participants stay in their vehicle and letting the workers remove the material from the vehicle.   The unloading takes place inside a large garage and will be held in the rain, snow, or shine. Please continue to check the Transfer Station’s website (https://www.townofguilderland.org/transfer-station) for any late changes.  Before you load your vehicle, please review the website’s list of accepted materials or call (518) 861-6776 for more information.  
 
Thank you for continuing to stay safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

Monday, April 6, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are now 300 confirmed cases with 41 persons hospitalized and 15 adults in the intensive care unit.  There were no deaths yesterday or overnight from COVID-19. There are now 350 persons under mandatory quarantine and 57 persons in precautionary quarantine.  
 
County Executive Daniel McCoy stated that for its opening day, the UAlbany testing site could test about 400 persons today and that when fully operational should be able to handle 1,000 tests. No walk-ins are allowed and all persons must be in a vehicle with an appointment made by calling (888) 364-3065.  County Health Commissioner Elizabeth Whalen, M.D. stated that this community testing could provide a meaningful epidemiological basis for determining where the County is at in containing the spread of COVID-19. The State’s website (www.ny.gov/covid-19tracker) provides more information about testing, results, and trends at the County level.
 
At his daily press conference today (https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/home), Governor Cuomo announced that all schools and non-essential businesses are closed through April 29th.  The Governor stated that the number of deaths in the State has remained steady for two days and that for a third straight day, there was a single-digit percentage growth in hospitalizations after an extended time period of growths by 20 or 30 percent per day. The Governor added that the new data suggested that the spread of the virus in the State is nearing its apex, but stressed that the State still faced an emergency.  
 
State and County DOH stressed that our collective fight against the spread of COVID-19 is everyone’s adherence to health guidelines including maintaining a minimum six-foot separation from each other; regular hand washing with soap for at least 20 seconds; coughing and sneezing in the inside of your elbow; disinfecting touched surfaces; and wearing a cloth face cover when out in public. 
 
I made a mistake in yesterday’s email about this morning’s opening of the driving range at the Western Turnpike Golf Course.  The range is open daily from 11am to 5pm.  Please remember to carefully review the course’s COVID-19 guidelines (www.westernturnpike.com) before you arrive and call the pro-shop at (518) 456-0786 if you have questions about these guidelines and the opening of the course.
 
This weekend saw heavier than normal use of Town parks with all parking spaces at the Winter Recreation Area filled on Sunday afternoon, and other parks used by hikers, Frisbee players, dog walkers, and other patrons enjoying activities with adequate physical separation.  New signage was installed at basketball courts about using them for only solitary play.  
 
There are news reports that the pandemic has resulted in more home gardens and a shortage of some seed types.  The Building Department is also issuing more building permits for hen houses. Before embarking upon this project or the premature buying of unreturnable hens (and avoidable unfortunate consequences (please hold the fried chicken jokes)), please consult the Town’s “keeping of chicken” regulations at: https://www.townofguilderland.org/building-zoning/pages/guidelines-checklists.
 
If you are interested in gardening, please consider the Town’s Community Gardens, an organic garden located a short distance from Tawasentha Park at 181 State Route 146.  Started in 1989 as a community garden project with around 15 garden plots, the gardens have expanded to over 110 plots, most measuring about 690 square feet, and are enjoyed by more than 80 residents and families under the passionate stewardship of Jerry Houser, Coordinator of Community Gardens.  The gardens include apiaries, bluebird houses, hoop house, pond, gardeners’ pavilion, picnic area, hiking trail, and the historic Houck barn, with harvest dates from the 1800s carved into the hand hewed beams.
 
There are a limited number of plots available for this season.  As with all Town outdoor facilities, the gardens are operating under COVID-19 guidelines, including a minimum six-foot separation.  If you are interested, please call Jerry at (518) 452-7450 or visit the garden’s website at https://www.townofguilderland.org/community-gardens where you can review and submit a "Garden Request Form," and review “Rules of the Row,” a garden plan, photos, and brief history. 
 
Thank you for continuing to stay safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are now 288 confirmed cases with 38 persons hospitalized and 13 persons in the intensive care unit.  Since yesterday, there were two additional deaths which brought the County death total from COVID-19 to eight deaths. There are now 384 persons under mandatory quarantine and 72 persons in precautionary quarantine.  
 
Local hospital administrators reported that the number of new COVID-19 hospitalizations is increasing but that rate at which patients are being admitted is slowing.  About five days ago, the rate of increase was around 33% and now is below 20%. Testing has increased but remains short of the desired amount (https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-testing).  The State’s website (www.ny.gov/covid-19tracker) provides more information about testing, results, and trends at the County level.
 
At his daily press conference today, Governor Cuomo stated that the number of deaths in the State dropped for the first time over the past few days, that the number of new hospitalizations decreased overnight, and that 74% of patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 have been discharged.  The Governor emphasized that it will take several more days of data for State health professionals to determine whether the State is experiencing a plateau or approaching the apex in the spread of the pandemic. You can watch or read transcripts of the Governor’s press conference at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/home.
 
Please remember that our continued progress against the spread of COVID-19 depends upon our collective adherence to health guidelines including maintaining a minimum six-foot separation from each other; regular hand washing with soap for at least 20 seconds; coughing and sneezing in the inside of your elbow; disinfecting touched surfaces; and wearing a cloth face cover when out in the public.
 
Community Caregivers, a non-profit organization, is a leader in our community’s response to COVID-19.  It provides free non-medical services to residents including transportation, shopping, visits, caregiver respite, meal preparation, light chores, assistance with paperwork, and telephone assurance calls.  While COVID-19 health guidelines have impacted some services, Community Caregivers’ volunteers are continuing to fulfill its mission and have also started Lunchtime Chats where every Tuesday and Friday at 1pm, you can call (518) 261-2761 to join and hear from speakers on a variety of interesting topics.  You can help this important organization by visiting www.communitycaregivers.org or calling (518) 456-2898 for information about volunteering or donating by clicking on the donate tab on the website.
 
Tomorrow, the driving range at the Western Turnpike Golf Course will open for the season.  The driving range will be open daily from 10am to 5pm. The course is strictly adhering to all COVID-19 guidelines including physical separation, and has modified operations to reduce physical contact.   Before you arrive, please review these guidelines on the course’s website (www.westernturnpike.com) and confirm that you are able to comply.  Staff is closely monitoring the course conditions with the goal of opening next weekend.  Maintenance crews have removed winter debris, remedied damage, and the entire course, especially the greens, is in outstanding shape.  Please visit the website or call the pro-shop at (518) 456-0786 for more information about the mandated health guidelines and the opening of the course.
 
Thank you for continuing to stay safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are 278 confirmed cases with 34 persons hospitalized, with 12 adults in the intensive care unit.  Since yesterday, there were two additional deaths of persons and the County death total from COVID-19 is now six. There are now 464 persons under mandatory quarantine and 82 persons in precautionary quarantine.  County Executive Daniel P. McCoy expressed condolences for the loss of lives and impacts upon families and the community.  
 
The State has a new website (www.ny.gov/covid-19tracker) that provides details, at the County level, on the numbers of tests and results. The statistics are updated twice a day.  Starting at 10am on Monday, April 6th, and every day thereafter from 8am to 6pm, St. Peter’s Health Partners and Albany Medical Center are operating a drive thru testing site (no walk-ups) at UAlbany’s Colonial Quad parking lot.  The testing requires a prior appointment by calling (888) 364-3065 and is prioritized for persons with the highest risk of contracting COVID-19.   
 
The State is asking retired health care professionals, health care workers, qualified medical and nursing school students and staff to consider joining, if they are able to serve, a reserve workforce if the need arises. More information is available at http://health.ny.gov/assistance.
 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending that persons wear cloth face covers, and not surgical and N95 masks, when in public settings.  The CDC has guidance on making, using, and cleaning the face covers: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html
 
The wearing of a face covering does not allow making it safe to play basketball with friends, shake hands after a successful putt, arrange long-postponed play dates, or host house warming parties.  It is not sufficient protection for you or others. The best prevention against the spread of COVID-19 are keeping a minimum six-foot separation from each other; regular washing of hands with soap for at least 20 seconds; coughing and sneezing in the inside of your elbow; disinfecting of surfaces; and wearing a cloth face cover when out in public.  The continued strict adherence to these guidelines is our best defense against this pandemic.  
 
For several weeks, women in the Altamont Train Station Quilters, Schoharie Valley Quilters, and many individual seamstresses have made nearly 500 cloth masks which have been delivered to Ellis Hospital, Belleview Maternity, Albany Medical Center, St. Peter’s Hospital, and Albany County Health Clinic.  Dozens of these face masks have been delivered to the Town’s Emergency Medical Services Department for use by Town staff and to be provided to seniors. I greatly appreciate the care and commitment to others by seen in the beautiful handiwork performed by these women. 
 
As I previously noted, Deputy Assessor Heather Weinhold is also a Marriage Officer.  On Friday, when I was just starting two different conference calls, I had a second floor view of Heather performing two wedding ceremonies on the Town Hall’s front lawn in the rain.  The first was very colorful with the bride, groom, and family in traditional Indian dress. And while Heather had no control over the rain, she maintained the minimum six-foot physical separations and ended with a very happy family.  The second was equally successful with all health guidelines observed. There was one glitch: someone forgot the marriage license. I’m not good at reading lips but one person appeared to be taking the blame. But, no worries, Heather is very patient and understanding, and passed the time back in her office inputting assessment data, while awaiting the bridal party’s return.  The crisis was avoided, vows were joyfully taken, and Heather congratulated the new couple under her umbrella, at a safe six feet distance.  
 
Thank you for continuing to stay safe and calm.
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

Friday, April 3, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are 254 confirmed cases with 30 persons hospitalized, with 15 adults in the intensive care unit.  Since yesterday, there have been two additional deaths of persons with underlying health conditions and that the County death total from COVID-19 is four. There are now 412 persons under mandatory quarantine and 123 persons in precautionary quarantine.  County Executive Daniel P. McCoy acknowledged the tragic losses and devastating impacts upon families caused by the pandemic and urged the public to prevent spread of the virus by following health guidelines.  
 
Governor Cuomo today announced the launch of www.ny.gov/covid-19tracker which provides visualizations of State and County testing and results. You can also access this data at data.ny.gov, the State's data portal which has downloadable formats that can be sorted, searched, analyzed and applied to new uses.  The Governor also announced that, starting Monday, April 6th, every day from 8am to 6pm, the Capital Region will have a new drive thru testing site at UAlbany’s Colonial Quad parking lot.  The site will prioritize tests for persons in a highest risk population. Interested persons must make an appointment by calling (888) 364-3065. 
 
It has been one-week since the passing of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, an 880 page stimulus bill intended to provide financial assistance for workers, businesses, and residents.  It’s a massive bill including state fiscal relief, payments to individuals, expanded unemployment coverage, multiple business assistance programs, student loan changes, rental assistance, homeless programs, special housing needs, support for hospitals, revised rules for retirement accounts, new rules for deducting charitable contributions, and much more.  The breadth of this bill is far beyond the Town’s ability to explain. We will add helpful resources to the Town’s website as they become available: https://www.townofguilderland.org/supervisors-office/pages/town-guilderlands-response-coronavirus-covid-19
 
Here’s a synopsis of a few components in the CARES Act that may be of assistance to residents and small businesses:
 
Recovery Rebates
The stimulus package includes direct payment by check or direct deposit to eligible residents.  Here is an online tool for determining your eligibility and calculating the benefit amount: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/business/coronavirus-stimulus-check-calculator/.  For most people, the payment amount is based upon your most recently filed Federal tax return.  Some tax advisors are encouraging clients to file 2019 federal tax returns as soon as possible, particularly if your 2019 income might make you more eligible for a stimulus payment than your 2018 tax return.
 
Unemployment Insurance
The stimulus package provides greater benefits, extends duration of benefits, and expands the eligibility for unemployment insurance to include the self-employed and part-time workers.  In the end, people who are unemployed, underemployed, or unable to work due to COVID-19 are more likely to receive benefits. Unemployment insurance claims in New York are processed by the Department of Labor: https://labor.ny.gov/unemploymentassistance.shtm.  Here’s a helpful FAQ on COVID-19 unemployment insurance claims. 
 
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources
Here’s a link to an overview by the Small Business Administration (SBA) explaining how small businesses are encouraged to keep their employees, customers, and themselves healthy: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources.
 
Paycheck Protection Program
This SBA loan program helps businesses retain employees during the crisis: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program-ppp.
 
Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance
This SBA loan program provides up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties due to COVID-19: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/economic-injury-disaster-loan-emergency-advance
 
SBA Express Bridge Loans
This SBA loan program provides a small business with a current SBA relationship with quick access to up to $25,000 in loans: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/sba-express-bridge-loans
 
SBA Debt Relief
This SBA program provides “financial reprieve” to small businesses during the crisis:  https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/sba-debt-relief#section-header-0
 
Again, there are many more components to the stimulus program that may be important to you, your family or your business.  
 
Given questionable items in prior stimulus bills, I figured that there must be at least one odd expenditure in the 808 page bill.  I did not (and likely will not) thoroughly read it so I cheated by searching for news reports about “pork” and the like. The best that I could find was a special tax benefit for distilleries, with lots of positive news reports for hundreds of distilleries in Kentucky and elsewhere.  The reason for this tax benefit was clear: promotes high-proof alcohol production for “essential” sanitizers. But those entities can now stay open and serve the State’s interest in supplying products to beverage stores, an “essential service” as determined by the Governor. It is comforting to know that the Feds and State have found at least one way (albeit indirectly) to jointly fight this pandemic.  If you find anything odd or funny in the CARES Act, please let me know at 3AMIdeas@togny.org.
 
Thank you again for staying safe and calm.    
 
Sincerely,
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are 238 confirmed cases with 27 persons hospitalized, with 12 adults in the intensive care unit.  There are now 401 persons under mandatory quarantine and 202 persons in precautionary quarantine. I thank Mary Rozak, County Director of Communications, for weeks of daily press releases with useful information for Town residents that I have been using in my email updates.  
 
Today’s update on how the Town is functioning under “essential services” restrictions focuses upon the Building, Zoning and Planning Departments.   These departments’ service counter and conference rooms would typically see heavy traffic, particularly with better weather, with homeowners bringing plans and asking questions about decks, fences, pools, sheds, family apartments, and even hen houses, and local business owners and developers looking to renovate and expand buildings or develop lots.  And while some of these services, including applications for building permits, subdivisions, site plan review, special use permit, and other applications, are available on the Town website and can be submitted by mail, applicants and Town staff benefit from personal interactions. We understand that most of these projects are very important to families.   Please rest assured that department staff are still reviewing and processing applications, and issuing building permits.
 
Under the Governor’s Executive Orders, the “essential services” performed by these departments include fire and building code inspections for new construction.  As you may know, construction activity was largely exempt from public gathering restrictions until the issuance of Executive Order 202.6, which requires the shutdown of all construction activity except emergency construction, construction of roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing, and homeless shelters.  The restriction does not prohibit work performed by a single worker if she or he is the sole worker on a job site. Since then, there has been even more confusion with new guidance which allows construction work on multi-family apartments so long as the projects include affordable housing. The work of these departments is most impacted by the over 200 directives whose interpretation is itself a time consuming task, and often changed by the next day’s directive or guidance.  
 
I am receiving wonderful emails at 3AMideas@togny.org, a new email address for submitting ideas and suggestions to handle COVID-19.  I have not yet had the chance to review the hundreds of suggestions but I quickly discarded an organized bear hunt (I assume the sender meant getting a photo of this elusive animal) and yet find some merit to an online rummage sale for occupants of our collective Islands of Misfit Small Kitchen Appliances.  
 
If you are curious or desperate for distraction, the Census Bureau invites you to track response rates to the Census by state, county, or municipality at: https://2020census.gov/en/response-rates.html.  I’ll save you time by letting you know that the responses rates as of yesterday are: Town (48.6%); Albany County (41.6%), New York State (36.1%) and United States (41.3%).  
 
Thank you again for staying safe and calm.    
 
Sincerely,
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there was a second death of a person, with underlying conditions, due to COVID-19 in the County.  As of today, there are 228 confirmed cases with 22 persons hospitalized, and 12 adults in the intensive care unit.  There are now 439 persons under mandatory quarantine and 241 persons in precautionary quarantine.  
 
Today’s update about how the Town functions under the “essential services” restrictions focuses upon the Assessor.  Like the Town Clerk, the Assessor’s Office would have dozens of residents appear at her office each day, reviewing tax rolls, filing informal grievances, and asking questions and interacting with staff.  This helpful in-person interaction has unfortunately stopped until further notice, hopefully for not too much longer.  But, like the Town Clerk, some Assessor’s services can be accessed on the Town website where you will find grievance forms and the complete final 2019 assessments roll, perhaps the Town’s most voluminous document (3169 pages) on the website. 
 
At Town Hall, the Assessor’s “essential services” include updating property records with new building permits and deeds, reviewing applications for exemptions, and considering informal grievances.  This work ultimately requires entering resulting data changes regarding property valuations on a secure computer located at Town Hall with access to State software.  And while there have been about 201 directives in thirteen Governor’s Executive Orders from notaries to masseuses, there has been no love shown, so far, for Assessor Karen Van Wagenen who remains required to update records for the State mandated deadlines, the closest of which is the May 1st date for filing the Town’s 2020 tentative assessment roll.  The Assessor knows that the time spent now and her essential work on the 2020 assessment roll is tied to the August 31st deadline for school tax bills.  And, no, the Assessor is aware of her duties and cannot be swayed by public opinion regarding tax bills.
 
Today is April Fool’s Day (sorry, should be a joke here) and, once a decade, it is also Census Day, the date on which the nation’s population is recorded.  The importance of a complete count in determining the Town’s representation in legislative bodies and receipt of sale taxes is well-known in our community and is shown by the Town’s response rate of 42.8%, well above the County’s rate of 36.9%, New York’s rate at 31.1% and the national rate of 36.2%. Way to go Guilderlanders, and please complete your 2020 Census questionnaire online, and call the Census Bureau at 1-844-330-2020, or visit 2020Census.gov if you have any questions.
 
Since last evening’s launch of the new email address (3AMideas@togny.org) for ideas, suggestions, and comments about the Town’s response to COVID-19, I have received dozens of emails, all positive with good questions, suggestions, and words of thanks.  Among them is letting residents know that expiring stickers for Town parks and upcoming Household Hazardous Waste Day remain valid and that residents with new cars or other reasons for a new permit can email the Town Clerk.  And, no, sorry again, the 201 State directives does not allow me to cancel school tax bills.  Please keep sending your emails but please understand that it may take a while to read them, and I thank you in advance for caring enough to write.  
 
Among the overlooked “essential services” is that provided by Deputy Assessor Heather Weinhold, who is also a Town Marriage Officer.  Spring is a popular time for a wedding, maybe the most intimate social event held at Town Hall, and, as a dedicated employee, Heather is trying her best to keep couples happy under strict guidelines.  So, while she can maintain physical separation, keep participation to four persons (you can figure that out), and hold the ceremony outdoors, Heather has no control over the weather and even less so over the happiness of excluded mothers-in-law.  But, in the end, let’s not blame all of society’s dissatisfactions on a virus, and instead thank Heather for being ready, on her own terms, to perform a joyous ceremony.     
 
Thank you again for staying safe and calm.    
 
Sincerely,
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

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.    
 
Sincerely,
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

Monday, March 30, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are now 199 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the County, with 15 persons hospitalized.   There are now 559 persons under mandatory quarantine and 223 persons in precautionary quarantine.  
 
There is still a lack of adequate testing kits which is limiting the use of kits to symptomatic hospitalized patients and first responders.  The numbers provide no basis for determining the rate of spread of COVID-19 in our community. It cannot be overstated that we all benefit from following well-known health guidelines of minimum six feet of physical separation, regular hand washing with soap for 20 seconds, and coughing or sneezing into your sleeve.           
 
In light of Sunday’s Executive Order which extends many of the Governor’s directives until April 15th, the Town has cancelled all board meetings through Wednesday, April 15th.   Because of reduced staff, updating the Town’s online calendar and website may take longer. 
 
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the massive Federal stimulus package, has numerous provisions that may benefit residents and local businesses.  This email and the Town’s website are not your best sources for information about whether this stimulus package might benefit you, your family, or business.  That said, I would like to draw your attention to two provisions that should have wide application in our community.  
 
First, the stimulus includes payment by check or direct deposit to eligible residents.  Here’s an online tool for determining you and your family’s eligibility and calculating the benefit amount: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/business/coronavirus-stimulus-check-calculator/.  Second, the legislation provides different forms of financial relief for local small businesses and employees such as expanded unemployment insurance, including self-employed persons, specialized grants, and government backed loans.  A helpful informational brochure about these benefits is available on the Town website.  
 
By now, your household should have received your 2020 Census questionnaire.  If you have not received it, please call the Census Bureau at 1-844-330-2020 or visit 2020Census.gov.  Because of public contact restrictions caused by COVID-19, the Census Bureau has delayed field operations, including visits to households, to April 15th.  An accurate and complete count ensures that the Town has proper representation in Federal, State and County legislative bodies and receives its share of collected sales tax.  
 
A couple of Town employees had no idea what I meant by yesterday’s reference to an unused bouillabaisse pan.  When I emailed them a photo, one said you mean a wok and another thought it was a fancy punch bowl. Both are fine examples of American ingenuity by restoring life to one of the last orphans on the Island of Misfit Small Kitchen Appliances. 
 
Thank you again for staying safe and calm.    
 
Sincerely,
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are now 187 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the County, with 15 persons hospitalized and seven persons in intensive care units.  The County DOH announced the first COVID-19 related death in the County of an elderly man with underlying medical issues. There are now 505 persons under mandatory quarantine and 233 persons in precautionary quarantine.  
 
Because of the continuing lack of adequate testing kits, these numbers should not be viewed as evidence of the slowing spread of COVID-19.  Regardless of the trend, our community benefits by a continuing strict adherence to basic hygiene rules of physical separation (minimum of six feet), regular hand washing with soap for 20 seconds, and coughing or sneezing into your sleeve.           
 
While some communities have closed or restricted access to parks, your Town’s parks, open space and trails are fully open.  There is no evidence of a lack of physical separation among park patrons who are maintaining required distances with polite smiles, waves, and nods.   Our community’s unabated adherence to health guidelines will allow the unfettered access to public outdoor spaces to continue.
 
NYS Parks is encouraging residents to follow health guidelines, and get outdoors to walk, jog, hike, ride a bike, or visit a State park or lands, to stay active, spend time with immediate family members, and reduce stress and anxiety.  NYS Parks is promoting #recreatelocal and asking residents to choose State parks that are close to home. Thacher State Park is open but the Indian Ladder Trail remains closed due to icy conditions. Before venturing out, call (518) 872-1237 or visit NYS Parks’ website (https://parks.ny.gov/parks/) for information about specific State parks.
 
I again thank you for staying calm and safe, and for your kind emails for the Town’s efforts to keep you informed and providing essential services in the midst of this health emergency.  The Town’s first responders answer every 911 and emergency call without hesitation.  For another week, the call volume has remained stable which has minimized our emergency responders, Police, Fire, and EMS, need for physical interactions. A recent Governor’s Order which extends expiring vehicle inspections and registrations will further lessen physical interactions.  Please remember that if you or are aware of an emergency involving persons or property, do not hesitate and immediately call 911.    
 
Thank you for your continuing support for the Guilderland Food Pantry in its ongoing efforts against food insecurity in our community.  The Pantry accepts monetary donations online at: https://guilderlandfoodpantry.ccbchurch.com/goto/giving.
    
Today’s gloomy weather encouraged us to renew things by visiting our Island of Misfit Small Kitchen Appliances.  The trip was productive (and way overdue) by giving revived life this morning to a waffle maker (actually, we found two; I remember purchasing neither), a future role for a Panini maker (heavily used years ago and for some reason abruptly cast off to the Island), and, for tonight, a dusted off gnocchi board (a well-intentioned purchase after a gifted local cooking class).  But a few items still wait on the Island including a bouillabaisse pan that I remember buying but I am not sure why we ever thought that we would make a fish stew that, in its traditional recipe, uses bony rockfish and other fish that are considered unsuitable for sale. Again, no need to write, I know that there are other recipes and that this stew is sold at astronomical prices to tourists in Marseille restaurants.  It may just have to wait a bit longer on the Island.      
 
Thank you again for staying safe and calm.    
 
Sincerely,
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are 178 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the County, with 13 persons hospitalized.  There are now 539 persons under mandatory quarantine and 234 persons in precautionary quarantine.  Please remember that these numbers should not be interpreted to suggest a slowing of the spread of COVID-19.   
 
With several weeks of data, health professionals have found that communities which are strictly adhering to standard health guidelines have reduced the spread of COVID-19 and are seeing the better outcomes.  I strongly recommend following health professional guidance by maintaining physical separation (minimum of six feet), regularly washing hands with soap for 20 seconds and using a hand sanitizer when you do not have soap and water, and coughing or sneezing into your upper sleeve, not your hands.          
 
This crisis and required physical separation is putting tremendous economic pressure on local businesses, most of which are owned by and employ Town residents.  You can help our community by supporting local businesses online and visiting local stores consistent with health guidelines and the Governor’s Executive Orders. To help with planning, here is the list of “essential retail” that remains open:  
 
  • grocery stores including all food and beverage stores
  • pharmacies
  • convenience stores
  • farmers’ markets
  • gas stations
  • restaurants/bars (but only for take-out/delivery)
  • hardware, appliance and building material stores
  • pet food
The list explains why pet stores (because of “pet food”), liquor stores (“beverage”), and Best Buy (“appliance”) are open.  The Guilderland Chamber of Commerce has a new online small business hub (https://www.guilderlandchamber.com/guilderland-small-business-hub/) with more information on how you can support our local businesses.  This website will be updated as more businesses are added. Before venturing out, please call ahead because many stores are operating with limited hours.  And if you do head out, give some forethought to checking those special recipes that require wine and liquor in their preparation.   
 
This morning, my wife and I hiked the Vosburgh Trails (about five miles) with the hope (at least mine) of catching a glimpse of an elusive black bear or maybe even a coyote, fox, or some other sport mascot (there may be a few exceptions, like extinct raptors (unique time for Jurassic Park Guilderland?)).  No luck today, but lots of great views along the Normanskill, a really loud woodpecker (sound carries well in still air), awakening wildlife, and other friendly hikers who, of course, maintained physical separation.  
 
Thank you again for staying safe and calm.    
 
Sincerely,
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

Friday, March 27, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:

In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are 176 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the County, with 14 persons hospitalized.  There are now 548 persons under mandatory quarantine and 234 persons in voluntary quarantine. It is my understanding that hospitals do not have enough testing and that these numbers, while suggesting a slowing of the spread of COVID-19, these numbers may not provide a sound basis for that suggestion.   

 
I am not sure why “social distancing” has been used to describe the need for six foot separation among persons.  To promote the separation’s sole purpose, it would seem more accurate to call it “physical distancing.” As we end another week of limiting human contacts, it is important to encourage socially safe interactions through phone calls, letter writing, and volunteering to deliver food and supplies to shut-ins.  There has been a marked increase in persons who are coping with stress and anxiety. If you or someone you know of needs help, or just someone to talk with, please call the Albany County Mental Health Hotline at (518) 269-6634, every day from 8am to 5pm. If you are experiencing or are aware of a psychiatric emergency, you should immediately call the County’s Mobile Crisis Team at (518) 549–6500.
 
In attempting to assess COVID-19’s impact upon the Town’s widely diverse functions, I am visiting Town departments on a regular basis.  I met yesterday with the Parks and Recreation Department about its facilities and programs. Town parks, open space, and trails are open every day from dawn to dusk under the Parks Department’s COVID-19 guidelines.  The Albany Pine Bush Commission’s entire 20 mile trail system is also open.  
 
As for programs, the Governor’s Executive Order 202.11, which extends the closure of schools until at least April 15th, also requires the cancellation of spring break programs, and has caused a “pause” in the Town’s summer recreation program.  The department is holding off, for now, on promoting the summer program because it has sports, events, crafts, and other activities that would be impacted by regulations.  The Town would rather wait for several weeks to avoid cancellations that would disappoint children. We remain confident that the summer program will be held and have this year’s brochures printed and ready for delivery by “back-pack” mail.
 
The Town is continuing to work (albeit remotely) with University at Albany's Master of Regional Planning program on a comprehensive pathway project in the Town.  Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the graduate school team provided an overview and solicited input from residents.  The students are now separately working, using proper physical distancing, on several key aspects including identifying assets and potential connections, exploring and assessing opportunities, and seeking to advance the goal of developing a multi-use trail system linking neighborhoods to desired destinations.
 
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation has advised that residents should be on the lookout for Ursus americanus, also known as the black bear.  DEC notes that black bears are rarely seen by humans and highly desired by photographers.  An apparent consequence of our staying in homes is that we are not scaring away bears and they are feeling more comfortable in public.  At least some living things are enjoying a benefit from this crisis and maybe one of us can get a highly rare and desirable photo of this shy and elusive creature.  
 
Thank you again for staying safe and calm, and expressing your support for Town employees.    
 
Sincerely,
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor
 
Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are 166 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the County, with 15 persons hospitalized.  There are now 566 persons under mandatory quarantine and 247 persons in voluntary quarantine. Please remember that this statistics should not give a false sense of security about the spread of COVID-19 because the number of testing kits is low and tests are only given in hospital settings.  
 
I had the opportunity today to visit the Department of Emergency Services (EMS) which with its Medical Director, paramedics and emergency medical technicians operates the Town’s six Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulances.  ALS ambulances provide cardiac care, advanced respiratory support, monitoring of hospital EKG transmissions, administration of pain management, IV therapy, and other advanced lifesaving techniques. Jay Tyler, Director of EMS, and Sean McGaughnea, Director of EMS Operations, reported that the EMS Department is operating under a response plan, including staffing contingency, and that all shifts are fully operational.  They stated that there has been no increase in 911 calls over the past two weeks and that the department has the staffing, resources, and equipment to address foreseeable emergency response needs.  
 
I also had the opportunity to view an ambulance that was being decontaminated by the newly acquired ozone generator.  This new device avoids the hours of manual disinfecting that is often required after certain responses, and allows medics and EMTs to perform other vital services.  I also had the chance to see the department’s stock of essential clothing and equipment that helps keep our medical responders safe and healthy. I also thank Jon Phillips of Phillips Hardware in Guilderland Center for its generous donations of disposable gloves, safety glasses, paper towels, hand sanitizers, and disinfectants which are used every day by EMS crews to decontaminate persons and equipment, and supplement the Town’s supplies.  
 
The EMS medics have also started practicing community paramedicine which was allowed by a Governor’s Executive Order.   It allows medics to “treat and release” patients who may need some medical attention but not a transport to the hospital.  I am far from knowledgeable about community paramedicine but I know that leaders in the EMS community believe that it could play an important role in providing cost-efficient health care.  A silver lining in this health care crisis would be an appreciation that measures which are deemed necessary for public health during a “disaster emergency” would find use in future normal times.
 
With Town Hall closed, like most other government offices, the receipt of office mail has slowed except from essential government services.  Today was no different except for its inclusion of an official looking envelope from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). That’s certainly not a frequent occurrence here.  In my eagerness to read the enclosed report, I quickly noted its reference to “School Street” and I immediately wondered what was happening in Guilderland Center and whether I should call the Guilderland Central School District.  In my speed reading (never a good idea with Federal government notices), I noticed phrases like “survival rate estimates,” “evaluations of the reasons for mortality,” and “no guarantee that it would be successful.” That’s just on the first page   After a slower paced reading of the next two pages, I realized that the detailed report was about what measures should be installed so that “juvenile blueback herring” could survive passage through turbines at a hydroelectric facility in Cohoes.
 
I have no idea why this report was addressed to the Town of Guilderland.  Don’t worry; we will forward it to the City of Cohoes. In these stressful times, it is comforting to know that the careful review of important projects is taking place and that a FERC public officer finds the time and understands the importance of ensuring the safe passage of juvenile herrings.  
 
Thank you again for staying safe and calm.   
 
Sincerely,
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

Dear Guilderland residents:

In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are 142 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the County, with ten persons hospitalized.  There are now 557 persons under mandatory quarantine and 633 persons under precautionary quarantine.  The County DOH did not provide details on confirmed cases or quarantines in a particular municipality.

County Executive Daniel P. McCoy stated that over 2,800 persons have been tested in the County but that the lack of adequate testing kits has caused a decline in testing and may not give a good understanding of how the virus is spreading in the County.   As stated by the County Executive, “[t]he lowering rate of increase in positive cases should not give the public a false sense of security, and we continue to encourage everyone to practice social distancing and follow the directives from Governor Cuomo.”

For a round of good news for a change, the County Executive reported that the Farnsworth Middle School student who tested positive for COVID-19 has recovered and that no other student has tested positive.  I am also pleased to report that there has been a slight increase in activities at Town Hall since last Wednesday’s closing of all Town buildings.  With the end of the two-week quarantine of the families of certain Middle School students, affected Town employees have returned on a limited basis to perform essential services.  It is refreshing to see familiar faces and even the slightest movement toward normalcy is appreciated.  Despite this small uptick in employees at Town Hall, your best method of obtaining Town services is by email or the Town website, and not by phone.

While other places have closed parks, we have decided to keep all Town parks, open space, and trails open for public use.  The Town parks are seeing heavier usage than usual this time of year and patrons are maintaining social distancing.  Please stay home if you are sick, continue to stay at least six feet from others, and practice good hygiene by washing hands often with soap for at least 20 seconds and following cough etiquette, and refraining from group activities like basketball and team sports.  Your continued adherence to these guidelines will enable the Town to keep its outdoor spaces available for your enjoyment.       

After handling Monday evening’s snowfall, the Highway Department has resumed road maintenance including removing lawn bags and winter debris.  To maintain social distancing, the Highway Department has only one-third of its employees working at any time.  As a result, this clean-up work will take longer.  The Highway Department appreciates your forbearance in not contacting it about pick up times.  It is doing its best under the circumstance, and you can help by keeping stormwater drains free of debris.      

The Transfer Station remains open for its regular hours, with employees following mandatory health guidelines which may require wearing masks and gloves for your and their protection.  Because it can be conducted in accordance with heath guidelines, the Town plans to proceed with the Household Hazardous Waste Day scheduled for Saturday, April 11th.  Please remember that this service requires the physical presence of NYS DEC certified contractors.  Your best source for updates is the Transfer Station’s webpage.        

Thank you again for staying safe and calm.   

Sincerely,

Peter G. Barber

Town Supervisor


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:

In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are now 136 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Albany County, with nine persons hospitalized.  There are now 576 people under mandatory quarantine and 652 people under precautionary quarantine.  The County DOH does not provide details on confirmed cases or quarantines for each municipality but the County Executive’s Office has advised that if there were new cases confirmed in a municipality, it would call and provide details.  I am relieved to report that I have not received such a call in nearly two weeks.

With the cancellation of public blood drives due to health guidelines, the supply of blood is running low and there is severe shortage.  Please play a role in our fight against COVID-19 by making appointments for blood donations at www.RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS. 

Today is Great American Takeout Day which has a heightened significance during this extremely difficult time for our local business community.  Please consider helping our local restaurants that offer takeout and delivery and shop online at local businesses.

We will continue to adhere to the Governor’s Executive Orders which bar most gatherings and closes businesses except for listed “essential services.”   We will share any new Executive Orders that may impact the performance of Town services and functions.  As of today, all scheduled board meetings are cancelled through Monday, April 6th.  The next scheduled meeting is the Town Board’s April 7th meeting which, if held, will be conducted with public participation by teleconference as required by the Governor’s Executive Order No. 202.1.    

As noted in prior emails, hundreds of persons in our community have provided vital public services in our collective response to this health care emergency.  Among those unsung heroes are persons, often seniors, who every day are delivering meals, food, and supplies to residents, and transporting seniors and disabled persons to important medical appointments.  These extraordinary persons volunteer with Community Caregivers, Albany County’s Home Delivered Meals program, and other organizations, and have helped the Guilderland Central School District with the delivery of breakfast and lunch to families who currently receive free and reduced cost meals.  On behalf of the Town and its residents, I thank these volunteers for their compassionate help and service to our community.  

I also thank Highway Department employees who are adhering to health guidelines by having 1/3rd of the department working each week on necessary maintenance and repair of Town roads.  To handle yesterday’s six inch snowfall, the Highway Department deployed all of its snowplows, but by removing the wings, the snowplow had only a driver and not the required wingman for heavier snow falls.  With that adjustment, the employees kept extended hours of social distancing and got the job done.   

A quick update that with yesterday’s tenth Executive Order and its 32 new directives, the Governor has issued about 153 directives.  But don’t worry, the effort to enlist notaries in our collective response to this “disaster emergency” remains, with 16 lines, in first place as measured by a meaningless standard.  A new directive, which provides important relief from maintaining medical records, came close, but fell short and lands tied for second place at 12 lines.

Please don’t waste your time double-checking my counting of lines.  A more enjoyable antidote for these stressful times is counting the number of arriving robins and snowmen and snowwomen created by families.

Thank you again for remaining safe and calm. 

Sincerely,

Peter G. Barber

Town Supervisor


Monday, March 23, 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Twelfth & 3/4th [1] Update

Dear Guilderland residents:

In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are now 122 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the County, with 490 people under mandatory quarantine and 634 people under precautionary quarantine.  While today’s number of new cases only modestly increased from yesterday’s 115 cases, County Executive McCoy noted that this news does not mean that the spread of the virus here is slowing.  He stated that the number of administered tests dropped significantly because the local supply of kits was nearly gone.

The NYS Department of Health is reminding residents that if you received EMS services and were not transported or sought medical attention and were sent home that, if your symptoms worsen, you should contact your health care provider and if it is an emergency, call 911.  At your first contact with a medic, EMT, ambulance driver, nurse, physician or other health care provider, you should immediately inform each such person if you have a cough or fever so that they can promptly and appropriately treat you.   It is imperative that we keep our first responders safe and healthy as they are our community’s first and primary defense against the spread of this virus. 

I would like to share goods news on how the Town’s EMS Department is rapidly adapting its systems to handle this evolving health care emergency.  It just acquired an ozone generator which disinfects the inside of the Town’s ambulances and allows paramedics and EMT to perform other important duties, and more quickly to return the ambulances to service.  The other good news is that there has been no appreciable change in 911 calls or requests for emergencies services for the past week.  I would also like to thank Multi-Phase Contracting Corp., a woman-owned business in Altamont, for its generous donation of masks and glasses to the EMS Department.      

I can also report that the East Old State Road Bridge over the Thruway did actually close earlier this morning and will remain closed for about seven months.  There were no reported issues. 

I am pleased to report that Towns parks and trails had heavy activity this weekend, and that visitors were practicing “social distancing” and following health guidelines.  I thank Parks’ employees for making these facilities ready for your enjoyment so early in the season.  And, if we should receive measureable snow (fingers-crossed here for yes), these trails are also suitable for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. 

Please check out the Guilderland Public Library’s website (https://guilderlandlibrary.org/) for options to spend quality time at home.  While the physical building is closed until at least April 1st, your Library remains open online 24 hours each day with an e-library portal for access to movies, TV shows, e-books, audiobooks, magazines and more.  

Since his Declaration of State of Emergency on March 7th, the Governor has issued nine more Executive Orders (www.governor.ny.gov/executiveorders), all of which are printed in 81/2 x 14 legal size paper, single spaced, and a font size (maybe 11 or less) that often requires a magnifying glass.  The Orders contain about 121 directives, all for the stated purpose of responding to this “disaster emergency.”    

These directives, mostly only a few sentences in length, are necessary to manage this crisis, such as expediting the purchase of emergency supplies (3 lines), suspending regulations to allow more prompt treatments (4 lines), and other equally succinct emergency directives.

But one of the 121 directives stood out alone in its number of lines.  It is not the directive to expand the capacity of hospitals (that took a scant 5 lines).  And, no again, it is not the directive to increase temporary testing site (3 lines).  No, at 16 lines, the winner is the directive in Executive Order 202.7 which allows notaries to use “audio-visual technology.” 

Now maybe it’s just me and I admit that I’m getting a wee bit stir crazy, but after reading this directive, I’m not sure how a notary would even use it.  I apologize if I have offended anyone (full disclosure: as a lawyer, I am also a notary) and I understand the legal importance of notarized documents.  There’s also no need for you to call, email or try to explain it to me.  When this crisis is in our collective rear window, there will be plenty of time for learned study and self-correction.  I’m just struck that amongst all of the important directives to respond to this “disaster emergency,” it takes the most words to enlist notaries in this fight. 

Thank you again for staying calm.    

Sincerely,

Peter G. Barber

Town Supervisor

[1]   I’m not superstitious but there’s no harm in creatively numbering these email updates.   You’ll have to read Harry Potter to appreciate at least one of the meanings of “3/4.”


Sunday, March 22, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:

The Albany County Department of Health (DOH) today reported that there are now 115 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Albany County, with six persons hospitalized.   There are now 318 people under mandatory quarantine and 634 people under precautionary quarantine.

Here’s the promised final warning that tomorrow, the East Old State Road Bridge over the Thruway will be closed to all traffic for approximately seven months as the Thruway does a complete removal and replacement of the bridge. 

On this Sunday, I’d like to express my gratitude to persons and groups who have helped our community in responding to this health emergency.  I know that there are hundreds, if not thousands, to acknowledge and thank, but I would like to begin with those who have directly helped our residents.   

I start with the Town’s first responders, Dispatch, EMS, Police, and Fire, who answer calls for assistance without hesitation.  In this time of acute uncertainty, it is comforting to know that our community is served by a team of dedicated professionals who are ready and willing to help when called upon. 

I extend sincere appreciation to Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy and Health Commissioner Elizabeth Whalen who, beginning with that first 5:00am call to me nearly two weeks ago about the first case of COVID-19 in our Town and their subsequent daily updates and phone conferences, have enabled the Town to keep you timely informed and, with the County’s support, enabled the Town to deploy its resources to ensure public safety and protect property. 

I also thank my secretary Jessica Montgomery, public relations officer Linda Cure, and Deputy Police Chief Curtis Cox for their indispensable roles in keeping residents updated about rapidly changing conditions with frequent emails, Nixle notices, and social media posts.  The timely and accurate information allows the community to make informed decisions.  

I extend gratitude to our local businesses and their employees who, while severely impacted by circumstances beyond their control, and despite personal risks, like cash register operators, shelf stockers, truck drivers, cleaning help and other service worker, are showing up and providing essential services to our community.  Without their help and services, we could not keep going. 

Please take the time to thank these special people and others who you know have helped us through this crisis.  There are literally thousands, from postal workers to nurses, highway workers to building and fire inspectors, and many others, who would appreciate a kind word or sign of gratitude. 

I also thank you, my fellow residents, for staying calm, remaining safe, and for your kind words of support for the Town’s efforts in responding to this unprecedented health emergency.  Your adherence to health guidelines and social distancing has allowed first responders to devote their efforts and precious resources to emergencies.   I appreciate your understanding that this disruption of daily life often requires the setting aside of personal needs and allows for a collective community fight against this virus.    

I also thank residents who have generously contributed to the Guilderland Food Pantry in its mission to address food insecurity in our community.  This health emergency is increasing the demand for its services.  Please contact the Pantry for information about its current needs at (518) 930-1001 or email: guildfoodpantry79@gmail.com.  The Pantry can now accept monetary donations online at: https://guilderlandfoodpantry.ccbchurch.com/goto/giving.

I also thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership during these very difficult days, and his Executive Orders that are intended to ensure public safety and protect property.  Among the Orders was a list of “essential services” that could remain open, including beverage stores.  While many see its obvious benefits, and its support for local businesses, I suggest an alternative option.  Adhere gladly to this rare government directive by buying wine and liquors at your local beverage store and use them in special recipes like Coq au Vin, Chicken Cacciatore, Duck a L’Orange, Chicken Marsala or the classic recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon in Larousse Gastronomique which calls for adding “a small glass of brandy and set alight.”  Some unsolicited advice: consider buying a top-shelf brandy; we are lazy and keep using leftover holiday brandy that never lights.   

Thank you again for remaining safe and calm.   

Sincerely,

Peter G. Barber

Town Supervisor


Saturday, March 21, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:

The Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are 89 confirmed cases, and now 386 persons in mandatory quarantine and 571 persons in precautionary quarantine.   County Executive Daniel P. McCoy announced that the County was able to deliver 5,000 N95 masks, a necessary respiratory protective device for emergency health care workers, to local hospitals and EMS crews in the County.  County Executive McCoy reminded everyone that persons dealing with stress and anxiety due to this health crisis can call (518) 269-6634, every day from 8am to 5pm.  Please remember that if you are experiencing or are aware of a psychiatric emergency, you should immediately call the County’s Mobile Crisis Team at (518) 549–6500.

Starting at 7am on Monday, March 23rd, the Capital District YMCA is providing daycare for school-aged children of emergency health care personnel and first responders at nine branches including the Guilderland YMCA.  More information, including registration and fees, is available at www.CDYMCA.org/EmergenctChildcare or at (518) 869-3500.

You hopefully don’t need another reminder that the Thruway’s complete removal and replacement of the East Old State Road Bridge over the Thruway will start on Monday, March 23rd.  Fair warning: there will be multiple 24 hour reminders tomorrow to avoid problems.

I had the chance today to visit Town facilities, including Dispatch, EMS, Police, and Transfer Station, and found that Town employees are providing essential services, under strict health guidelines, without incident.  As announced last week, Town buildings remain closed to the public until further notice and public meetings are cancelled through April 1st.  The Governor’s Executive Orders allow public meetings with the public’s participation by telephone and also bar nonessential gatherings of any size for any purpose.  We are awaiting more details from the Governor and Attorney General’s office on which boards and matters should proceed under the Executive Orders.

We accelerated the spring opening of Town parks for social distancing enjoyment.  As of today, Town parks and Vosburgh open space are open every day from dawn to dusk.  Please check the Parks Department’s web page for COVID-19 guidelines and Hike Guilderland, which provides interactive maps and information about the Town trails and other hiking options.  The opening of Western Turnpike Golf Course will requires more time (hopefully brief), consistent clear weather, and warmer ground temperature to prevent damage to greens.  Please check out WTGC’s website for more information.  The Albany Pine Bush Commission’s entire 20 mile trail system in the 3,350 acre preserve is also open.   Please check out the Pine Bush’s website for important information about ticks and periodic trail closures.

Spring’s recent arrival should also have brought outdoor team sports but, with the COVID-19 crisis, there is an unfortunate (and hopefully short) delay.  But let’s rejoice in a rare happening.  As a life-long-New York Mets fan, I can confidently and gleefully predict that the Mets will be in first-place (albeit tied) well into April.  So there’s no need for concern, and no need to report to local authorities, if you should see blue and orange clad fans reveling in a once-in-a-generation experience while, being Mets fans, of course following appropriate social distancing. 

Thank you again for remaining safe and calm. We will get through this together.  

Sincerely,

Peter G. Barber

Town Supervisor


Friday, March 20, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:

At its daily briefing, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are 70 confirmed cases, with six hospitalized and the rest are recovering at home.  There are now 283 persons in mandatory quarantine and 493 persons in precautionary quarantine.   County DOH warned that hospitals were running low on testing kits.

Please note that, while Town buildings remain closed to the public, and most employees are now at home, the Town is delivering important services including all emergency services with no changes in staff, fire and building inspections for approved projects, and maintaining parks, open space, and trails for public use with social distancing (six feet apart).  Except for emergency services, the other departments’ services are performed with greatly reduced staff.

As announced yesterday, the Town is operating under a State of Emergency to protect public safety and property, and enforce the State’s policy, as announced in the Governor’s Executive Orders, to enable local government to perform functions, including public meetings, by means that protect public health and allow consideration of important matters.  The Town will also adhere to the Governor’s Order which prohibits nonessential gatherings of any size for any purpose.  The Town has invested in software improvements to allow for the public’s participation by telephone.  The Town will also use public notices, with call-in instructions, that were recommended by the State and satisfy the Executive Order’s requirements.   

A quick reminder that the Thruway’s scheduled total removal and replacement of the East Old State Road bridge over the Thruway will start on Monday, March 23rd.  Given current traffic conditions, there will be far fewer than the usual 5300 daily motorists, but keep this bridge closure in mind and follow the posted signage and detours.  The bridge will be closed for approximately seven months.  If you are looking for something to pass time, you can read the bridge’s inspection report and detour analysis on the Town’s website. 

If you are looking for a War & Peace equivalent length, you can try the New York Power Authority – Wendell Lighting’s 90% Design Report (987 pages) about the Town’s and neighboring municipalities’ plans to acquire National Grid’s 631 lights, convert them to LED, and select among 13 luminaire styles and 12 lamp types and wattage.  Don’t worry; no comprehension test is required under current conditions.      

Thank you again for staying calm, and please try to enjoy some “social distancing” time outdoors.  Over the weekend, we will continue providing you with timely updates.    

Sincerely,

Peter G. Barber

Town Supervisor


Thursday, March 19, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
Since yesterday’s email update, in which we announced the complete closure of all Town buildings to the public, we decided today that current conditions require the suspension of transportation services by the Senior Services Department.  As with the decision to close Town buildings, we did not make this decision without considering dynamic health guidelines that impose social distancing and operational restrictions on transportation services, and the health of our seniors and Town employees. We hope that this suspension is brief and urge seniors and their families to call the Department at (518) 280-7607.   
  
As of 4pm today, the Town declared a State of Emergency with the stated goal of protecting the public safety and property, and ensuring that the Town enforces the Governor’s Executive Orders which are intended to allow the functioning of government, including alternative means of holding public meetings, to the greatest extent possible. 
 
We have been asked by the Census Bureau to remind residents that you should or will receive a mailing which provides information on how you can go online and complete the Census questionnaire.  Given the COVID-19 crisis, the Census Bureau has postponed for two weeks until April 1st, all field operations, such as dispatching Census workers to check in with households who have not completed their questionnaires online.  This suspension of field operations does not impact the ability to respond online or call the Census Bureau. 
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are now 52 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Albany County, with 297 people under mandatory quarantine and 443 people under precautionary quarantine.  The County DOH does not provide details on confirmed cases or quarantines in a particular municipality.
 
Thank you again for staying calm.   
 
Sincerely,
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:
 
Given the marked reduction in calls and emails for Town services, the community’s appreciation of this dynamic health emergency, and new health guidelines and Executive Orders, effective as of 4:30pm today, all Town buildings are closed until further notice.  There will be only a handful of Town employees at Town Hall so your best method of obtaining Town services is by email or on the Town’s website.  Your phone calls may not be answered and there may be a delay in responding to voicemails.  Please note that we will do our best under the circumstances to answer your questions and concerns.  
 
I cannot over emphasize that there is no change in staffing for responses to emergencies, including Police, EMS, and ambulances.  Water, Sewer and Highway Departments will respond to emergency calls.  You will see Highway employees in your neighborhood, picking up lawn bags and winter debris.  The Parks Department is readying the Western Turnpike Golf Course, parks, open space, and trails for your “social distancing” enjoyment.  Building and Fire inspectors are performing tasks that allow approved home and commercial construction. These departments are working staggered schedules with a reduced number of employees.    
 
Please understand and do not call, for example, if your lawn bags are not picked up as promptly as during normal times.  And please understand that, with more residents now home during weekdays and nicer weather soon arriving, that there will likely be far more lawn bags waiting for pickup.  Please be patient and you can help your community by keeping lawn bags and debris off the street and clear of stormwater drains.      
 
The Transfer Station remains open, and will have regular hours, including this evening and Saturday.  You may find that, given recommended health guidelines, services may be modified, and that employees may, as required by health guidelines, have added protection, like masks and gloves, for your and their protection.  Household Hazardous Waste Day scheduled for Saturday, April 11th remains on the Town’s calendar but please be aware that this service depends upon the availability of NYS DEC certified contractors.
      
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are 41 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the County, with 126 persons under mandatory quarantine and 441 persons under precautionary quarantine.  The County DOH does not provide details on confirmed cases or quarantines in a particular municipality. 
Thank you again for staying calm.   
 
Sincerely,
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor
 
 
Dear Guilderland residents:
 
As announced yesterday, due to COVID-19 in our community, all Town buildings, including Town Hall, Senior Center, Parks & Recreation, Highway, and Water & Sewer will have strictly limited public access until further notice.  You can still call, mail or email Town departments as noted on the Town’s website where you can also access most Town services. 
 
The scheduled meetings of the Industrial Development Agency on Monday, March 23rd and the Planning Board on Wednesday, March 25th are cancelled.  The State has cancelled all Town court proceedings until further notice.  
 
The Transfer Station remains open, and will have regular hours, including Saturdays.  You may find that, given recommended health guidelines, some regular services may be modified, and that employees may be wearing added protection, like masks and gloves.  At this point, the Household Hazardous Waste Day scheduled for Saturday, April 11th remains on the calendar.  We will post updates if there are any changes.    
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are 25 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the County, with 125 persons under mandatory quarantine and 450 persons under precautionary quarantine.  Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy noted that based on the County DOH’s mapping and tracking, there is neither a discrete cluster nor a particular community that is disproportionately affected. The County Executive also added that the County is working with the Governor’s Office to consider mass closings and tighter restrictions to stop the spread of this virus and keep people safe.  
 
We thank you for taking this matter very seriously, and adhering to all health guidelines.  We urge you to visit the following websites for important information about this health emergency: 
 
Thank you again for staying calm, and I hope you have a safe and enjoyable St. Patrick’s Day
Sincerely,
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor
Dear Guilderland residents:

Based upon impacts and disruptions caused by coronavirus (COVID-19) on residents, families, and businesses, effective at 1:00 pm today, all Town buildings, including Town Hall, Senior Center, Parks & Recreation, Highway, and Water & Sewer will have strictly limited public access until further notice. All Town parks, trails, and open space remain open. Police and EMS will continue responding to all emergencies. The Transfer Station is expected to reopen tomorrow as planned. Highway crews will continue with the winter clean-up, Water & Sewer will respond to emergencies, and Building and Fire will continue with regular inspections. All services will be performed under recommended health guidelines.
 

We did not lightly make this decision. We understand the importance of public access to Town facilities and hope to restore full access as soon as possible. We urge you to call or email Town departments as noted on the Town’s website where you can also access most Town services. Please note that, given impacts on staff and their families, it may take a little longer for the Town to respond to inquiries.

In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the County, with one person hospitalized, and that there are 90 people under mandatory quarantine and 367 people under precautionary quarantine. Please visit the County’s website for more information about COVID-19 and links to other resources.

Thank you again for staying calm, and your kind words of support for Town employees.

Sincerely,
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor


Sunday, March 15, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:

The Town of Guilderland and its Medical Director, and the professional staff in the Department of Emergency Medical Services and Police Department, are all working hard to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in our community, and protect our residents, visitors, businesses, fellow employees and themselves.  We are all in this effort together, and, upon behalf of Town employees, I thank you for your words and acts of support for our collective efforts in addressing this health emergency.  In this email, like its four predecessors, we are committed to keeping you informed about important information as soon as it becomes available.  The Town also has a separate webpage devoted to the Town’s response to COVID-19.

As of Noon on Sunday, March 15th, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are apparently no new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Town.  However, due to the marked increase in confirmed cases in the County, currently 11, and with 89 persons under mandatory quarantine and 476 persons under precautionary quarantine, there is a strong likelihood that the number of confirmed cases in Guilderland will increase.  The good news is that only one of the 11 confirmed cases is hospitalized and that all 11 cases are recovering.  I urge you to visit websites of the Center for Disease Control, State DOH, and County DOH for more information about COVID-19 and links to other resources.

We are aware of the Guilderland Central School District’s decision regarding school closings and the County DOH’s March 15th letter to Farnsworth Middle School families regarding quarantines.  Please check the District’s website for regular updates and contact the District should have any questions. We are also mindful of the Governor’s Executive Orders which limit mass gatherings and encourage municipalities to continue providing services and holding meetings by using methods other in-person participation. 

At the Town level, we are taking responsive action one week at a time with a plan to assess the situation daily for adjustments.  As a reminder, this week, the Town is cancelling Town Court proceedings and all programs at the Senior Center.  We ask that seniors who might need transportation for medical appointments and groceries to please call the Department of Senior Services at (518) 280-7607.  While all other Town offices will remain open, we urge residents to use email, phone, or the Town’s website for many Town services.   Please also do not be alarmed or offended if Town employees maintain social distancing and that some may be wearing gloves or facemasks as directed by health guidelines. 

We are awaiting the NYS Commissioner of Health’s approval of proposed protocols which would allow Town ambulances to transport patients to destinations other than hospitals and allow dispatching medics, without ambulances, to address minor medical issues.  A recent Governor’s Executive Order provided this authority to EMS departments.  As one of the few municipalities with both Town-operated ambulances and medic services, the Town is able to deploy its advanced-life support ambulances and over 40 medics and emergency medical technicians to meet the needs of residents during these exigent circumstances.  Dr. Donald Doynow, the Town’s Medical Director, has been indispensable in working with State and County DOH officials, guiding the Town’s emergency services during this difficult time, and emphasizing the vital importance of keeping first responders fully protected and healthy. 

The County DOH, like its fellow health professionals, is advising seniors and persons with severe underlying medical conditions like respiratory restrictions, heart or lung disease, and diabetes to avoid human contact as much as possible.  We are concerned, however, that these precautions could cause some persons to not leave their homes for groceries or other daily needs.  We encourage you to safely check on vulnerable neighbors and friends about their status, and let the EMS Department know if you believe that medical issues may be present.  The EMS Department also makes welfare checks based upon its prior interaction with residents. 

This dynamic health emergency situation highlights the role of local organizations in addressing food insecurity and other urgent needs.  The Guilderland Food Pantry is at the forefront of helping residents in need, and the current difficulties are increasing our community’s demand on its services.  The Pantry’s current need is easy to prepare food, like macaroni and cheese, canned ravioli, canned soups, juice, and laundry soap.  You can contact the Pantry, located at 4 Charles Park in Guilderland, by phone (518) 930-1001 or email:  guildfoodpantry79@gmail.com for more information on how you can help.  You can also make monetary donations online to the Pantry at: https://guilderlandfoodpantry.ccbchurch.com/goto/giving.

Thank you again for remaining calm.  

Sincerely,

Peter G. Barber

Town Supervisor


Saturday, March 14, 2020

Dear Guilderland Residents:

Thank for your patience and understanding as our community continues to address coronavirus (COVID-19) impacts.  In these email and Nixle notices, we are trying to provide you with the most recent information on how the Town and other entities are addressing this unprecedented and dynamic situation. 

As of Noon on Saturday, March 14th, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are no new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Town.  The current three confirmed cases in Town are in the same household which remains under quarantine, and no member has been hospitalized.  The County DOH’s website has more information about COVID-19 and links to other resources.

As a reminder, Town Court proceedings next week on Monday, March 16th and Thursday, March 19th, and next week’s Senior Center programs are cancelled.  Seniors requesting transportation to medical appointments and groceries should call the Department of Senior Services for the latest updates.  All other Town offices remain open.

The Town Board’s March 17th meeting and the Guilderland Industrial Development Agency’s March 23rd meeting are cancelled.  The next scheduled public meetings in Town are the Planning Board on March 25th, the Zoning Board on April 1st, and the Town Board on April 7th.   Given the Governor’s recent Executive Orders, including limits on mass gatherings, modifications of public meeting laws, and other steps to protect the public and encourage government functions, the Town is considering the Governor’s alternative method of allowing public participation by conference call or similar service, with the public’s ability to view or listen to a meeting that is also recorded and transcribed.  The Governor, State agencies, and the County are urging municipalities to continue providing services and perform government functions to the maximum extent possible under the circumstances to mitigate the negative economic impacts. We should know more about the Governor’s Orders next week, and its impact on Town services. 

We are also considering the Governor’s Order which authorizes the Town’s medics to practice community paramedicine, transportation to destinations other than hospitals, telemedicine to allow treatment on site, and other services approved by the NYS Commissioner of Health.  This Order will allow Town medics an important role in alleviating pressure on hospital emergency rooms and their maximum capacity for treatment of COVID-19 and other patients.  The Town’s Medical Director and EMS Department is actively working with the NYS Commissioner of Health on new protocols. 

We receive frequent updates from State and County health officials, and will take additional actions if recommended.  The Town’s website has a page devoted to the Town’s response to COVID-19.

The Guilderland Central School District announced yesterday evening that, after consulting with the Albany County DOH, the District would follow this schedule for the next two weeks:

Farnsworth Middle School is closed from Monday, March 16th to Friday, March 27th

All elementary schools and the high school are closed from Monday, March 16th to Friday, March 20th, unless extended under the guidance of health officials).

While we will try to provide timely updates, your best source of information about the District’s response to COVID-19 is the District’s webpage.  

The Guilderland Public Library is closed through Monday, March 23rd, and the Altamont Free Library is closed until further notice.  Please click the links to these libraries for updated information.  

We urge you to regularly visit useful websites for more information about COVID-19:  

Center for Disease Control (CDC) Updates on the Coronavirus

New York State Department of Health

Albany County Department of Health

Town of Guilderland

We will continue providing you with necessary information and updates as soon as possible.

I extend a hearty thank you to the Town’s emergency first responders, Police, EMS, and Fire Departments for their service to our community, and their continuing compliance with State and County health guidelines to keep them safe and healthy.    

Thank you again for staying calm.  

Sincerely,

Peter G. Barber

Town Supervisor


Friday, March 13, 2020

Dear Guilderland Residents:

The Albany County Department of Health notified the Town earlier today that two additional Town residents in the same household as the first confirmed case have coronavirus (COVID-19).  The household is under home quarantine and no member has been hospitalized. 

To minimize personal contact, Town Court proceedings scheduled for Monday, March 16th and Thursday, March 19th are cancelled.  The Town Board’s March 17th meeting was cancelled for other reasons. The Senior Center’s programs are also cancelled through Friday, March 20th.  The Department of Senior Services will continue to provide transportation services for seniors to physician appointments.

All other Town offices remain open.  You may see posted notices at counters about maintaining “social distancing” and avoiding personal contacts.  Please do not be alarmed.  We are following Federal and State health guidelines.  You are encouraged to seek Town services by mail, phone, email, and online on the Town website (https://www.townofguilderland.org/) where you have access to a growing number of Town services.  

Please note that these measures will have no impact upon the delivery of emergency services.  The uniformed members of the Police and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Departments are well-trained and equipped to handle COVID-19 cases, and are providing services under guidelines issued by State and Federal authorities.  The Town’s Medical Director, EMS Department and Police Department are closely working with Albany County DOH and NYS DOH on the Town’s response to this changing situation and are ready to take additional recommended actions.  

The Guilderland Central School District is closed today and is also closed Monday, March 16th for Superintendent’s conferences.  Please check the District’s webpage devoted to sharing information about COVID-19:  https://www.guilderlandschools.org/district-update-on-coronavirus-covid-. We are keeping the Village of Altamont, Guilderland Central School District, Guilderland and Altamont libraries, and the business community informed of developments.

For updates and more information regarding COVID-19 please visit the following:

We will update this information as quickly as possible.

Thank you and continue to stay calm.

Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor
Dear Guilderland Residents:
 

The Albany County Department of Health notified the Town this morning that a Town resident has a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19), and that the resident’s household is under quarantine.  The Town’s Medical Director, Department of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Police Department are closely working with Albany County DOH and NYS DOH officials on the Town’s response to this developing situation. We are also keeping the Village of Altamont, Guilderland Central School District, Guilderland and Altamont libraries, and the business community informed of developments.

Given this notification, the Town is cancelling, through next Tuesday, March 17th, all discretionary Town-sponsored gatherings, including senior programs.  As a precaution, the Town is also cancelling court proceedings scheduled for tonight and Monday, March 16th.  The Town Board’s March 17th meeting was cancelled for other reasons. We are in regular contact with State and County health professionals and are prepared to take additional action as warranted.  

Please rest assured that the Town is fully equipped and trained to respond to COVID-19.  We are striving to ensure a safe environment for residents and visitors at Town facilities, including the placing of hand sanitizers at public counters and increasing the frequency of disinfecting and cleaning surfaces.  Except for discretionary meetings, all Town departments are functioning as normal.  The EMS and Police Department are providing emergency and other services under guidelines issued by State and Federal authorities. 

Please remember that exposure to COVID-19 results from person-to-person contact, and to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in our community, you should follow the following guidelines:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  If soap and water is unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue away in a trash can.
  • Avoid touching your face, including eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

For updates and more information regarding COVID-19 please visit the following:

We will keep you informed to the maximum extent possible. Thank you and please stay calm. 

Peter G. Barber

Town Supervisor


Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Dear Guilderland residents:

The Town of Guilderland’s most important priority is the safety of Town residents and its employees.  We are closely monitoring the Coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), and reviewing frequent updates from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), NYS Department of Health (NYSDOH), and Albany County Department of Health. 

At the local level, the Town’s Medical Director, Department of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Police Department are constantly monitoring the developing situation, have developed a response plan, are fully equipped and trained to handle COVID-19 occurrences, and have helped prepare this update. 

We are proactively acting to ensure a safe environment for residents who visit and use Town facilities, and for our employees would are ready to serve residents.  The Town’s departments, including programs for seniors, court proceedings, and public functions, are proceeding as normal.  The EMS and Police Department are presently rendering emergency and other services consistent with guidelines issued by State and Federal authorities. 

We have placed hand sanitizers at all public counters and increased the frequency of disinfecting and cleaning surfaces.  Public meetings and hearings by all boards and committees are being held as scheduled.  If you are unable to attend, please remember that you can watch Town, Planning, Zoning and IDA meetings on the Town’s website at https://www.townofguilderland.org/.

Exposure to COVID-19 can occur from any person-to-person contact.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the NYS Department of Health (DOH) recommend that individuals should follow the following guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  If soap and water is unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue away in a trash can.
  • Avoid touching your face, including eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Symptoms for COVID-19 range from mild to severe and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.  Symptoms often appear two to 14 days after exposure.  If you are experiencing symptoms, have traveled to areas of concern or have been in contact with somebody who has traveled to these areas, you should call ahead to your healthcare provider before seeking medical treatment in person.  Even if you have not been in contact with an infected person or an affected area, but are experiencing all symptoms of COVID-19, you should call NYSDOH at 1-888-364-3065.  Testing for COVID-19 in New York State is at no cost to the patient, regardless of health insurance providers.

For updates and more information regarding COVID-19 please visit the following:

We will continue to monitor this important situation and provide updates on our website as necessary and appropriate.  Please remember to “keep the calm.”

Peter G. Barber

Town Supervisor