City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A COVID-19 Task Force has been established, the city of Saratoga Springs announced March 26.
The action follows the State of Emergency - declared on March 13, and the activation of the City of Saratoga Springs Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan.
Commissioner of Public Safety Robin Dalton leads the city’s response to the Coronavirus outbreak with Incident Commander SSFD Chief Joe Dolan and the support of the COVID-19 Task Force. The Task Force, in consultation with the City Council, is charged with coordinating the performance of specific emergency functions and responsibilities, as outlined under the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan. The Plan provides the city the critical ability to respond to the viral outbreak with a streamlined, efficient and direct response, Dalton said, in a statement.
Commissioner Dalton and Mayor Kelly stressed the city must remain vigilant in following community mitigation actions in the coming weeks to flatten the curve of COVID-19 and slow the spread from reaching our most vulnerable residents, while reducing the strain on our local health care system.
‘It is imperative that we continue to act responsibly and follow the Governor’s Executive Order, so our City can get through this challenging time united in spirit and strength,” Dalton said.
CITY HALL ESSENTIAL SERVICES CONTACT INFORMATION
Call your health care provider FIRST if you have any concerns over your health and possible exposure to COVID-19. In the event of an emergency, call 911.
PUBLIC SAFETY DEPARTMENTS
• Fire Department Non-Emergency
Call 518-587-3599. Access to administrative reports, including fire incident reports, will be handled via email and/or phone. No in-person document requests will be facilitated at Fire Headquarters (60 Lake Ave).
• Police Department Non-Emergency
Call 518-584-1800. Members of the public are asked not to come to the police department to file a report. To request copies of an accident report please visit https://buycrash.com. To download a police report request form please visit the city website at https://www.saratogasprings.org/290/Obtaining-Police-Reports.
•Please be advised that wait times may be longer than normal.
• Pay your parking tickets online at https://www.saratoga-springs.org/212/Parking-Tickets or Call 1-800-996-0285 to pay by phone (There will be a $3.50 charge per ticket).
• All station tours, internships, or non-essential programs have been postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date. All civilian fingerprinting services have been suspended until further notice.
For more information, contact Eileen Finneran, Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety, at 518-265-6485.
PUBLIC WORKS SERVICES
• The DPW workforce is in emergency standby mode.
• Transfer station hours are 8 am-12 pm/noon, Tuesday-Saturday.
• DPW service calls can be made to police dispatch at 518-584-1800.
CITY HALL SERVICES
No in-person services or appointments will be done at this time. All available City Hall services are outlined below.
• Vital Records: Death Certificates: Death certificates will continue to be filed within seventy two (72) hours as required by NYS Law.
• Chapter 136 Cabaret, Eating and Drinking, Lodging and Sidewalk Cafe Licensing: Mail applications and fees for renewal applications. Penalties for late filing will be waived.
• Special Event Application: Mail applications and fees. Permits will be issued per NYS Governor Cuomo’s Emergency Directives
• Assessment: Assessment operations are suspended until further notice
• Risk and Safety Issues: Please call Marilyn Rivers, Director Risk & Safety at 518-210-3243
• Vital Records and Purchasing staff are available by phone: Please call Marilyn Rivers, Director Risk & Safety at 518-210-3243
Taxes and Utility Bill payments may be mailed or paid online here: https://www.saratoga-springs.org/419/Property-Tax-Search-Online-Payments. You may also call the Finance Department at 518-587-3550 x2565. We will get back to you as soon as possible.
• Intake of new applications is suspended. The counter is closed to the public.
• For active permit applications, staff is reviewing them and working remotely. They are available by phone and email during business hours.
• Only inspections approved by the Building Inspector or designee will be scheduled.
• All non-essential inspections will be cancelled and/or suspended.
• Inspections will be limited to essential projects where no inspection alternative is possible.
• No inspections will be conducted in occupied residential buildings or assembly spaces.
• All inspection documents, plan revisions, and paperwork must be submitted digitally.
• If an inspection is approved, the contractor must provide accommodations for isolation.
• Intake of new applications is suspended.
• For active Land Use Board applications, staff is reviewing them and working remotely. They are available by phone and email during business hours.
• City Land Use Boards meetings are cancelled for at least the next two weeks.
• NO in-person registration. Online registration for Spring Soccer and Summer programs are still being accepted.
•Recreation Parks are open to the public, but no organized activities will be scheduled and fields will not be scheduled until further notice. All rental questions should be emailed to the address below. If you plan to use a park, please follow all NYS and CDC recommendations regarding COVID-19.
CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS
• The City Council will hold its regularly scheduled meetings, but the public will not be allowed to attend in person until further notice. Meetings will be livestreamed through our website and Facebook page. The agenda will be available in the Agenda Center. Email Mayor Kelly’s office with questions or comments that you would like to have entered into the record.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Search your friends and friends-of-friends on Facebook and you will find them, there to illuminate and entertain. Some of the region’s most talented musicians, poets and artists have taken to a variety of social media platforms to perform their songs and their works-in-progress in the wake of the shuttering of public venues.
Fans of “good folk” may also want to check out caffelena.org, where the Phila Street café is streaming live shows nightly at 8 on YouTube. This week’s slate includes scheduled performances by Let’s Be Leonard (Friday); Scott Sharrard (Saturday), and The Lustre Kings (Tuesday, March 31).
Area poets, meanwhile, are engaging the community with video and verse at places like @albanypoets on Instagram.
And for some irresistible grooves on a national scale, check out the happenings at the “online concert venue” website stageit.com, where on March 29 the Dollyrots will perform the first of their weekly “pay what you can” acoustic shows live from their home base of sequester: “This is for our fans - and since our kids are cooped up with us they'll probably be around too. Watch us try and wrangle them as the show goes by, or hopefully they just behave themselves haha!”
SARATOGA SPRINGS – “Ultimately, I think we’re going to be talking about things as being either pre-Corona, or post-Corona,” says Elliott Masie, disengaging from a Zoom video conference with a screen depicting representatives from 60 different companies across the nation who had gathered to discuss where they are and what they are doing “in these times.”
“I think this will change everything. And I don’t think it’s all bad; I don’t think it’s all good,” he says. “There’s a lot we haven’t figured out yet. But there are some things that are going to be absolutely different.”
Masie has hosted and curated learning & development seminars, labs, and conferences for several decades. He’s pulled in experts from across the country and put up interviews with them since before the age of Podcasts and Ted Talks, in the formative years of the Internet. He leads a learning consortium of more than 150 global organizations cooperating on the evolution of learning strategies - a lot of it from the Saratoga Springs think tank The Masie Center, with a focus on how organizations can support learning and knowledge within the workforce.
On this day, the faces of dozens of representatives from a myriad of companies simultaneously stare back from his screen. One represents a financial service company with 60,000 employees, another a fast food service company that employs 1 million workers.
“Many of them are having to lay people off, and others are working from home, so I try to be the Rabbi – to mediate, and to have conversations with them about what’s changing,” Masie says. “We’ve never had a situation like this before.”
The moment it became clear the virus was coming to the U.S., Masie says he decided to use the Masie Center - its people, resources, reputation and networks - to host regular video support conversations to link colleagues and support the people who are in charge of the workforce learning all around the country.
Working from home and learning from home. What works? What doesn’t work?
“It’s hard. If you have your partner, or kids or dogs. Maybe you don’t have the Internet at home. People may not have all the tools they need to work at home. To employers, I would say: in the old days, meaning a few years ago, when businesses shut down, they just shut down and people went home. We’re now doing something that’s miraculous, but there’s no model for doing that,” Masie says.
”I was on the phone with someone who has 47,000 people working for them and the first thing they realized is that 9-to-5 isn’t a relative term. Meaning somebody may need to take care of their kids, because daycare’s not working. So, they’ve moved from thinking about the 9-to-5 to just get done what you can done.”
Communities in upstate New York began looking at things like high-speed Internet capabilities with an eye trained upon a future time when employees could be capable of working from their homes. In 2010, then-President Barack Obama signed legislation instructing each federal agency to come up with policies to promote telecommuting. At the time of the Telework Enhancement Act, approximately 5 percent of the federal work force was engaged in some level of teleworking, with slightly more than 100,000 employees teleworking at least once a week. A 2016 Gallup Survey reported the number of employees who worked remotely in some capacity was up to 43%. For those who haven’t, now would seem a good time to heed the advice from those who have.
“Have a dedicated in-home workspace and do your best to keep it holy,” explains Michael Eck, a longtime beloved Capital Region fixture in the art and music world. A self-employed freelancer for nearly 30 years, Eck telecommutes every day to the West Coast. Currently he works for Two Old Hippies Stringed Instruments in Bend, OR.
“Get up in the morning at the same time you would for your morning drive and do your morning routine,” Eck says. “Get dressed. In actual clothes. And put on your shoes. You’re going to work. Have breakfast. Be at the desk by your regular time and do the work. Make sure to eat lunch and take a brief afternoon walk so it feels like a regular day. Lather, rinse, repeat.”
Working from home with kids at home is an entirely new experience for those not accustomed to it, writes Kristen Hare, who has broken down her suggestions for working parents at home into categories respective of the children’s ages - from babies and toddlers to middle schoolers and teens. The piece may be viewed at Poynter.org.
“Just because workers’ laptops are now nearby on their kitchen tables doesn’t mean managers can expect their workforce to be available 24/7,” points out Alison Green in her article “You Don’t Have to Work All the Time Now,” which may be read at slate.com. “People feel like they’re expected to be working every minute of the day—in ways they generally wouldn’t be expected to do when they’re in the office... Remote workers aren’t on a chain gang; they’ve just temporarily relocated their workspace.”
For people new to working at home, Masie recommends being mindful of your time not only to produce good quality work, but to avoid burning out.
“We’re people under stress. And if people are under stress, their ability to learn, for accuracy, and their ability to 100% focus goes down. So, things that might have taken a half-hour at work, now might take two hours,” Masie says. “You do need to monitor your stress level. And you may need to tell people to stop working, meaning they’re working 14 hours a day just because there is no going home. That’s not the deal and that’s not healthy.”
He also recommends limiting your news-watching time. “I tell people to find one hour a day where if you want to, need to, or choose to, to go get the news. Don’t do that all day long. I love news, talking about it, thinking about it - but it’s not really updating, in a sense. You talk to someone who went through Katrina, they’re not floating through the river with a transistor radio on. So, I think there’s a psychological balance that’s needed.”
At home, one may not have the informal “water cooler” moments to talk with co-workers. Masie says in a social-distancing world, he’s created a time to socially interact with others, albeit it using technological means.
“Every morning at 7:15, Ira and I have a cup of coffee and a toasted bagel. He lives on one side of town and I live on the other,” Masie says, with a laugh. “And we carry on the same kind of conversations we’ve always had.
“Some things will never be the same and sadly a lot of people who have spent their life building a career, might have it disrupted, in some cases transformed, or in the worse-case ended by a tragic moment in history. So, you go back to Kubler-Ross there are some death and dying elements that people have to go through to find some peace. Luckily I can’t think of a better place that I would like to be than Saratoga.”
Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include: Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones; Changes in sleep or eating patterns; Difficulty sleeping or concentrating; Worsening of chronic health problems; Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.
Things you can do to support yourself:
• Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
• Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
• Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
• Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
• Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
“As we all take measures to protect our physical health, we also need to protect our emotional health,” writes psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb, whose article “Dear Therapist’s Guide to Staying Sane During a Pandemic,” was recently published in The Atlantic. “Everyone copes with horrible situations differently. For some, humor is a balm. It’s BOTH/AND: It’s horrible AND we can allow our souls to breathe.” The article may be read online at: theatlantic.com.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued the following statement as part of a COVID-19 Announcement on March 21: Mental health is a vital part of public health. To that end, I am calling on psychologists, therapists and other mental health professionals to pitch in and volunteer their services to help with New York’s Coronavirus response. To sign up, go to: health.ny.gov/assistance.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The 2010 census indicated the city of Saratoga Springs had a population of 26,586. Those population numbers are estimated to be higher, now, a decade later.
The U.S. Constitution mandates that the census takes place every 10 year and responses matter in helping determine how many dollars in federal funding flow into states and communities each year, as well as how many seats in Congress each state gets.
The U.S. has counted its population every 10 years since 1790.
Door-to-door campaigns inspiring residents to fill out 2020 Census forms have been halted by the coronavirus pandemic, and the U.S. Census Bureau has extended the national deadline for the count by two weeks, until mid-August.
Through March 22, the most recent date of available figures, less than one-fourth, or 22.5% of Saratoga Springs households responded online, by mail, or by phone to the 2020 Census. That percentage is just under 20% for Saratoga County as a whole. The city and county 2010 self-response rates were each at approximately 70 percent in 2010.
For more information and to respond to the census, visit: 2020census.gov
NEW YORK — Tuesday morning, Churchill Downs Incorporated announced that the 2020 Kentucky Derby, originally scheduled for May 2, has been postponed and will now be run on Saturday, Sept. 5.
In response, New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) CEO & President Dave O’Rourke issued the following statement: “NYRA is working closely with all appropriate parties, including media rights holder NBC Sports, to make a determination about the timing of the 2020 Belmont Stakes. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to upend American life, decisions about large-scale public events must prioritize public health and safety above all else. NYRA will deliver an announcement only when that process has concluded to the satisfaction of state and local health departments. The Belmont Stakes is a New York institution with wide-reaching economic impact. We look forward to its 152nd edition in 2020.”
Since March 12, NYRA has conducted live racing without fan attendance at Aqueduct and through March 17 restated its intention to continue racing behind closed doors.
The 40-racing days Saratoga Meet is slated to run July 16 - Sept. 7. Spring training at the Oklahoma Training track, located on Union Avenue across from the main racecourse typically begins in mid-April.
New Visitation & Hospital Access Policies; Hospital Establishes Separate Lab Specimen Collection Site for Approved COVID-19 Testing of Patients
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Hospital has instituted new visitation and hospital access policies. Until further notice, enter only through the main entrance or the Alfred Z. Solomon Emergency Center.
The main entrance hours are:
Monday - Friday: 6 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday: 7 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
• The Emergency Center entrance is open 24/7.
• Mollie Wilmot Radiation Oncology entrance: for cancer patients only.
• No visitors with fever, cough or shortness of breath
• All patients will be restricted to one visitor/support person. This applies to all patients, including inpatients, those who are coming to the hospital for outpatient tests or treatments, and maternity patients.
The hospital says “compassionate considerations” will be made on a case-by-case basis dependent on a patient's circumstances and nurse director or designee approval. All patients and visitors must sign in at the reception desk and follow the login procedure. No visitors under age 16.
These restrictions apply only to Saratoga Hospital, not to outpatient locations.
COVID-19 testing must be ordered by a healthcare provider or your county health department.
If you believe you have COVID-19 symptoms, or may have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, do not go to any healthcare location. Instead, please call your provider. When you call, a healthcare professional will assess your symptoms. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may be directed to a testing site per your provider or your county public health department.
If someone believes they may be sick, people are encouraged to call their provider before going to a provider’s office or urgent care to help assess the next best steps for care and provide appropriate guidance. For example, in most mild cases, a provider visit may not be necessary.
Saratoga Hospital has established a separate lab specimen collection site for approved COVID-19 testing of patients. The temporary biocontainment facility, located outside Alfred Z. Solomon Emergency Center on Myrtle Street, is the safest way to provide this service to the community.
Patients must be referred for COVID-19 specimen collection at this site either by a licensed healthcare provider or by the New York State or Saratoga County health departments. There is no walk-in service. For more information, go to: www.saratogahospital.org/covid19.
The NYSDOH Coronavirus Hotline is a valuable resource for the most up-to-date information: 1-888-364-3065.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — In an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, Shelters of Saratoga will be using a new location as an emergency shelter for the homeless currently housed at the Code Blue Shelter on Adelphi Street. The Senior Center at 5 William St. is being converted for this purpose.
“People experiencing homelessness not only are challenged to do what we are asking like, washing hands, staying indoors, talking to their medical providers when they are not feeling well - but many are already impacted with health issues, thus putting them at-high risk of contracting the virus,” said Karen Gregory, executive director of Shelters of Saratoga, which oversees the Code Blue program.
Individuals experiencing homelessness include many older adults, often with compounding disabilities. In Saratoga Springs, these adults often reside in small, congregate shelters or in unsheltered locations with poor access to sanitation. Their age, poor health, disability, and living conditions make them highly vulnerable to illness. Once COVID-19 is introduced to this high-risk population, further transmission will be very difficult to contain, hence inspiring Shelters of Saratoga to initiate a rapid response plan during the crisis.
SOS’s Case Managed Emergency Shelters house up to 32 individuals a night in a congregate-style setting. They also sponsor the Emergency Winter Shelter - Code Blue which houses up to 61 individuals each night between Oct. 15 and April 15. Quarantining someone inside the building is not an option.
“Across all of our programs, we will be working unconventional hours to secure coverage. Until this passes, we will not be doing business as usual - the safety of the team and all of the guests are of utmost importance to me. This is a difficult time and we do not have the luxury of working remotely. We are here, present and in the trenches - side by side the individuals we are serving,” Gregory said.
Shelter staff are monitoring guests for symptoms and encouraging people to self-report if they’re not feeling well. But in the event of an outbreak, Gregory said she would need support from the Department of Health, the Local Department of Social Services and area hospitals to treat and house the sick, as well as to make sure that they are connected with food and other services they depend on the shelter for.
“In this new location, we will have three rooms which will easily allow for separation. I am proud and grateful to work in a city that cares so deeply for its most vulnerable.”
S.O.S. also operates an outreach program for the many individuals living in motels scattered throughout the county, parking garages and those who do not come indoors. The SOS outreach team is working to get critical information about the virus to people, who are in many cases unaware of the dangers posed by this virus.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The City Council announced on Friday, March 13 that the City of Saratoga Springs has declared a State of Emergency. City Hall offices were closed to the public beginning Monday, March 16 and remain so until rescinded by a further order.
The City Police Department, Fire/EMS Department, and vital Public Works staff will continue to operate as normal. For life-threatening emergencies, call 911. Call your health care provider FIRST if you have any concerns over your health and possible exposure to COVID-19.
The City Land Use Boards are cancelled for at least the next two weeks, including the March 27 meeting.
CITY DEPARTMENT CONTACTS:
Accounts Department: 518-210-3243 (Marilyn Rivers, Director of Risk and Safety).
Mayor’s Department: 518-414-2118 (Lisa Shields, Deputy Mayor).
Public Safety Department:
518-584-1800 (Police Department Non-Emergency)
518-587-3599 (Fire Department Non-Emergency)
518-265-6485 (Eileen Finneran, Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety)
Public Works Department: 518-584-3356 (Department Dispatch).
Finance Department: Finance will be communicating regarding City payments (taxes, utility bills, etc.). Please check the City website for updates.
The Saratoga Springs School District is closed effective immediately through Sunday April 19.
Residents are encouraged to visit the City’s website at www.Saratoga-Springs.org to receive updates on City operations.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Springs Police Departments has enacted new measures and adjustments to protocol to ensure the safety of personnel and the public.
Police will continue to respond to all emergency calls for service. Certain measures will be enacted to prevent unnecessary contact with those who may be ill, which will affect certain nonemergency calls for service, according to a statement issued by the department.
Members of the public are asked to not visit the police department to file a report, and to instead call the department nonemergency number at: 518-584-1800, option 2.
To request copies of an accident report, go to: buycrash.com.
To download a police report request form, go to: www.saratoga-springs.org/290/Obtaining-Police-Reports. Wait times may be longer than normal.
Station tours, internships, non-essential programs have been postponed, and all civilian fingerprinting services suspended.
Parking violation tickets may be paid online at: www.saratoga-springs.org/212/Parking-Tickets, or call 1-800-966-0285 to pay by phone. There will be a $3.50 charge per ticket.
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