Governor extends school closings

KINDERHOOK–As part of an executive order issued on Friday, March 27, Governor Andrew Cuomo has extended the date that schools in the state will be closed until at least April 15. Most of the school districts in the county had planned to reopen on April 1 or 2 but now are making plans to be closed for another two weeks.

On Sunday, March 30, President Trump said the lockdown nationwide would continue until the end of April. Both dates depend on the status of the pandemic in New York State.

The governor’s order says “that all schools shall remain closed until April 15, 2020, at which time the continued closure shall be re-evaluated. No school shall be subject to a diminution in school aid due to failure to meet the 180-day in session requirement as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, provided their closure does not extend beyond the term set forth herein. School districts must continue plans for alternative instructional options, distribution and availability of meals, and child care, with an emphasis on serving children of essential workers, and continue to first use any vacation or snow days remaining.” Read more…

Major disaster declared, apply for reimbursement

GREENPORT—The Columbia County Emergency Management Office announced in a March 24 press release that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the State of New York has received a Major Disaster Declaration (FEMA-4480-DR) from President Donald Trump.

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services will be holding applicant briefings for Columbia County via WebEx March 30 for all potential eligible applicants who may receive reimbursements.

Potential applicants may include state agencies, local government (county, city, town and village), and federally recognized tribal nations. In addition, private non-profit organizations that may qualify are hospitals, nursing homes, public schools and private schools. Read more…

State revises quarantine guidelines

HUDSON—Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb alerted county officials that the New York State Department of Health has issued revised guidelines regarding coronavirus-related quarantines in the county’s March 29 press release update on COVID-19.

“The guidelines have been revised to reflect the new recommendations put forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC.) Hopefully the new guidelines are based on the science and research being done with actual COVID-19 cases. These guidelines are for healthcare workers and essential staff that include law enforcement and first responders. The new guidelines reduce the amount of time individuals are in quarantine and isolation if they are fever free and see an improvement in symptoms. These individuals must continue to work with the Health Department to be cleared,” the health director said. Further guidance will be forthcoming.

With the news that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has authorized the emergency use of a rapid coronavirus test that can deliver results in as little as 15 minutes, Mr. Mabb said he welcomed anything that helps with the understanding of the disease. Read more…

Hillsdale tallies its many natural resources

HILLSDALE–Planning Board issues dominated the regular monthly meeting of the Town Board, Tuesday, March 10. Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) member Gretchen Stevens started the meeting with a slide show presentation of the Hillsdale’s Natural Resources Inventory (NRI), an 18-month long project the council has developed. Ms. Stevens and CAC Chair David Lewis, asked that the board adopt the NRI as a local law and not let the document “sit on a shelf.”

The NRI includes maps and descriptions of the town’s natural resources and their importance to the people of Hillsdale. It also discusses the threats to those resources from climate change, including invasive species and loss of farmland. And there are recommendations for sustainable fees.

Ms. Stevens and Mr. Lewis described the NRI as an information resource for people planning to build in Hillsdale and expressed the hope that “real estate agents will use it.” Read more…

Officials recognize work of those on front lines

HUDSON–With the coronavirus bearing down on Columbia County, officials
including Department of Health Director Jack Mabb, Sheriff David Bartlett, Director of Emergency Management David W. Harrison, Jr., and Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell meet daily via conference call to assess the situation and to share information, according to a Saturday, March 28, press release from the Board of Supervisors chairman.

Officials recognize the tremendous work being done on the front lines of this crisis in such areas as
emergency services, health care, and those who are working to staff essential businesses.
“People are doing amazing work under the most trying of circumstances. We thank
them for their dedication and efforts,” Mr. Murell said in the release.

With calls coming into the county regarding the donation of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as N95 masks, face shields, and gowns, county officials advise those who want to make a donation to contact the Emergency Management Office at 518-828-1212. If no one answers, leave a message and someone will return the call. Read more…