If schools have a plan, maybe graduation can happen

HUDSON—With the Capital Region now in Phase 1 of New York Forward, Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell said in the county’s May 21 Covid-19 update press release that the Capital Region control room has recently been discussing the possibility of area high schools conducting graduation.

“The thinking among the group is that schools have our support for graduation ceremonies if they can come up with a reasonable plan,” he said in the release.

The control room is composed of the chief elected official of each of the eight Capital Region counties, which are Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga, Rensselaer, Washington, Warren, Columbia and Greene.

“Once a school has been given the okay by a local committee, it’ll be a matter of the state giving its approval to go ahead with graduation,” said the chairman.

In Columbia County, Chairman Murell, county Department of Health Director Jack Mabb, and county Emergency Management Director David W. Harrison, Jr., are charged with reviewing the plans.

Coronavirus numbers updated

The Columbia County Department of Health (DOH) reports the coronavirus death toll remained steady at 29 Columbia County residents as of May 21 at 3 p.m.

The county has had 358 positive cases of Covid-19; 182 of the 358 cases have recovered from the virus; 17 of the positive cases are hospitalized, 1 of those hospitalized is in the ICU.

The DOH has received 3,749 completed test results for Columbia County residents; 133residents are under mandatory quarantine and 5 under precautionary quarantine.

County buildings still closed

Chairman Murell said May 21 that the closure of public county buildings has been extended through May 29. Departments deemed essential will continue to be staffed and will accept appointments from the public.

The following departments are considered essential: 911, Communications, Sheriff, Corrections, Public Health, Office for the Aging, Highway, Solid Waste, MIS, Board of Elections, DSS, District Attorney, and Facilities. The County Clerk’s office is open by appointment to process dealer work and necessary County Clerk work.

A state of emergency remains in effect in Columbia County until June 15.

Business reopening tools

Phase 1 of New York Forward, which began May 21, includes construction, manufacturing and wholesale supply chain; retail for curbside pickup and drop-off or in-store pickup; agriculture, forestry and fishing; as well as low-risk business and recreational activities, including drive-in movie theaters and some outdoor activities.

Guidelines and templates relating to reopening plans can be found at https://columbiacomeback.com/resources/phase-one/

Also, New York State has recently added a “Reopening Tool,” designed to let businesses know when they may reopen in a particular region. It can be accessed at https://www.businessexpress.ny.gov/app/nyforward

As for individuals heading out into public spaces, little has changed, said Chairman Murell. Masks covering the nose and mouth, as well as maintaining social distancing standards, are still required. One thing that does change, is gatherings of 10 people or less are now permitted.

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