Outdoor venues draw ‘distancing’ complaints, county death toll climbs to 9

HUDSON—Columbia County officials are receiving many calls complaining that social distancing is not being practiced at outdoor venues where people are going for recreational opportunities.

“People see cars in a parking lot and call to complain that social distancing is not being practiced at these venues,” Columbia County Department of Health (DOH) Director Jack Mabb said in the county’s April 13 Covid-19 update press release.

“One example is Art Omi in Ghent, which has drawn a number of complaints.” Given those complaints, Mr. Mabb said that DOH has conducted an investigation to determine whether or not social distancing guidelines are being breached.

“Twice people from our department have visited Art Omi, and determined that social distancing is being practiced. This is a good recreational area and we saw no indication that the guidelines are being ignored. What we’ve seen are people parking their cars and then dispersing onto trails and other areas. You may see six people walking together on a trail or along a road, but those six people turn out to be living in the same household,” he said in the release.

“It’s a balancing act. We need to remember that the protocol for violating social distancing guidelines is contact less than six feet of distance for more than 15 minutes,” he said.

“We’ve received complaints in reference to different parks and outdoor areas. A lot of these things that people are seeing are okay in the governor’s executive order. People do need to get out and do things. A lot of these things that people are seeing are okay in the governor’s executive order. At the same time, this virus is no joke. We all need to practice social distancing for the safety of everyone,” Sheriff David Bartlett said in the release.

According to the DOH, as of Monday morning, April 13, Nine deaths have been reported in the county, with three from the community and six residents of the Pine Haven Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Ninety-three county residents have tested positive—out of 670 tests administered for Covid-19. A total of 101 are under mandatory quarantine (93 plus 8 who have had close contact with a positive individual), with 23 under precautionary quarantine.

The breakdown of confirmed, positive cases of Covid-19 in Columbia County by Town as of April 10 follows: Ancram- 4; Canaan- 1; Chatham- 4; Claverack- 2; Clermont- 1; Copake- 4; Germantown- 4; Ghent- 14; Greenport- 5; Hillsdale- 4; Hudson- 10; Kinderhook- 5; Livingston- 1; New Lebanon- 3 and Pine Haven residents- 22.

When someone is in mandatory quarantine, someone from the health department visits their home every day, said Director Mabb. “We don’t go into the home, but instead we call them from the driveway and verify they are home. We need to see them in their home,” he said.

Sheriff Bartlett said that a gentleman’s agreement exists among the sheriff’s offices of Washington, Warren, Saratoga, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Greene and Columbia counties to assist another county in the event “one of the departments is affected by the virus. If one of the departments goes down, others will step in and offer their services.”

The sheriff said this is something that has happened in the past, for instance, during flooding issues.

“The sheriffs are a tight-knit group of people. We believe in our communities and are willing to do what we can do to help others,” he said.

Anyone who wants to donate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as N95 masks, face shields, and gowns, are advised to contact the Emergency Management Office at 518-828-1212. If there is no answer, leave a message and someone will return the call.

Food donations should be directed to the county Office for the Aging 518-828-4258 and local pantries.

Monetary donations intended for the purchase of much-needed equipment for emergency responders, medical personnel, and others on the front lines of the coronavirus fight are being accepted.

Checks should be sent in care of Columbia County, with coronavirus noted in the memo field. The check can be sent to the Columbia County Controller’s Office, 401 State Street, Hudson 12534. All money received is being placed in a dedicated account.

For the most up-to-date, accurate information visit the County Department of Health’s website at https://www.columbiacountynyhealth.com/home/coronavirus-covid-19 or their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Columbia-County-Department-of-Health-469399129790791/. The state’s coronavirus website, with up-to-the-minute information, can be found at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/home.

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