City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
MALTA / Schuylerville — Village of Schuylerville Mayor Dan Carpenter and Malta Councilman Timothy Dunn have initiated a friendly wager to see which community can raise more money for its food pantry by July 4.
“We wagered some beers from our local breweries; Bound by Fate Brewing Company from Schuylerville and Unified Beerworks from Malta,” Carpenter says. “This is all in good fun but seriously, this all is to raise money for a good cause.
“To add a little more fun and to put some more skin into the game, if we beat Malta, I will let my children shave my head bald and my wife will get to shave the beard she loves soooo much,” Carpenter added.
“We’re ready to show how Malta works. And sorry, mayor, when we win, my hair and beard are staying right where they are!” responded Dunn.
To donate to the Schuylerville SAFER food pantry, go to: secure.givelively.org/donate/saratoga-county-foundation-inc/stronger-together-schuylerville.
To donate to the Malta Food Pantry, go to: secure.givelively.org/donate/saratoga-county-foundation-inc/malta-helps?fbclid=IwAR2RfVCNbo-tuUCLgg71tJO21Uk-Cf8APJvw_1xc9cGORqSWwJbsZl4JbLY.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — A continued adherence to social distancing and face-covering guidelines have reduced the COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rate significantly across the Capital Region during the past few weeks, and as such, businesses in the Spa City and the surrounding communities are preparing to potentially enter the Phase 2 reopening of their establishments next week.
“It’s working,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this week, referring to New Yorkers across the state reducing the curve of the virus infection.
Cuomo’s NY Pause order went into effect March 22, and the city of Saratoga Springs and the greater Capital District Region were cleared by the state to begin the phase 1 re-opening of the local economy beginning Wednesday, May 20.
There are four reopening phases in all, and an up-to 14-day incubation period between phases to ensure that infection rates and hospitalizations are maintained at a manageable level.
And while the state has yet to release Phase 2 reopening guideline, or give the OK to cycle into the next phase, there is a general belief that that the region will meet the metrics required and be able to reopen for Phase 2 at the expiration of the 14-day incubation period on Wednesday, June 3.
Phase Two reopening allows for the following: Professional Services (including hair salons and stylists among them); Retail; Administrative Support; Real Estate / Rental & Leasing. Social distancing, face coverings and limited occupancy requirements will remain in place.
WHAT IS REQUIRED OF BUSINESSES
Every business is required to develop a written safety plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19. Businesses may develop their own safety plan or use the template below provided by the state. To download that state created Safety Plan Template, go to: governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/NYS_BusinessReopeningSafetyPlanTemplate.pdf.
A copy of the plan must be retained on business premises at all times and be made available to the NYS Department of Health (DOH) or local health or safety authorities in the event of an inspection.
One key factor in reducing the spread of the virus is, when discovering someone has been infected with the virus, tracing that person’s previously known whereabouts and with whom they had come into contact. According to the CDC, the goal is to trace and monitor contacts of infected people, notify them of their exposure and support the quarantine of contacts to prevent additional transmission.
“We’ve done that from day one in Saratoga County and that’s how we flatten the curve, how we were able to reopen, and how we’ll be able to stay open,” Cathy Medick, Department of Health Director of Patient Services said during a forum the county hosted May 27.
Additional questions were raised during the forum regarding the topic.
Q: How do big box stores like Walmart, Target, etc. Do tracing? Is that any different than small businesses?
A. Cathy Medick, Department of Health Director of Patient Services: “No. As far as their employees go, they have to keep track of all the employees that are on for a shift and it’s their responsibility to have it as part of their safety plan. We have worked with bigger businesses and places that have had positive cases. Many of them had used their security cameras or their Frequent Shopper cards to identify people who may have come into contact. We do realize it would be impossible to write down every single customer that comes into the store, so, that’s the main difference there.”
Q. How is our privacy protected, and what type of information is to be given to a contact tracer?
A. Medick: “Under Public Health Law, HIPPA is skewed a bit. As a Public Health entity, we have the right to collect information to protect the health of the greater public.”
Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus, a panelist at the forum, was also asked about the topic.
Q. What happens to a business owner if contact tracers track a cluster back to their business – and, what is the extent of that liability?
A. Todd Shimkus: “One of things businesses need to do as part of their safety plan is to figure out how they are going to manage contact tracing should somebody from the county show up at their business a day later, or at any point in time and say: ‘OK, you had a customer who was here three days ago, we need to make sure we notify you, your employees and anyone else who might have been here.’ So, every business as part of your plan, you have to have some way of recording who was in your store, your business or workplace every day, so in case there is contact tracing going forward you can contact those people who were there. It’s part of your responsibility as part of your safety plan.
“The second is liability. This is a much bigger challenge. The liability provisions in terms of insurance and the law do not cover COVID-19.
“That means you at the very least, have to comply with the existing law which goes back to having a safety plan. Making sure that safety plan uses all the right protocols: that your employees are following it, that your customers are following it, so that you don’t have any issues that cause you liability concerns.”
The NYS Forward Safety Plan Template regarding the issue, directs that customers may be “encouraged” to provide their information, but are “not mandated to do so.”
That specific segment reads: “Maintain a continuous log of every person, including workers and visitors, who may have close contact with other individuals at the work site or area; excluding deliveries that are performed with appropriate PPE or through contactless means; excluding customers, who may be encouraged to provide contact information to be logged but are not mandated to do so.”
Additionally, “Which employee(s) will be in charge of maintaining a log of each person that enters the site (excluding customers and deliveries that are performed with appropriate PPE or through contactless means), and where will the log be kept?”
Again, while a Safety Plan is required, the state informs that a business may use the NYS Forward Safety Plan Template to fulfill the requirement, or may develop its own Safety Plan.
An official announcement regarding the OK for the second phase of reopening is anticipated soon, as Friday marks 14 days since a handful of regions in the state began phase one. And in what may ease any confusion, the state is also expected to release detailed updates regarding Phase Two plans. For the most current update, go to: forward.ny.gov.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Wednesday’s dawn brought to Saratoga a morning unlike any of the 58 days that had come before it.
After hitting on all of the region’s required benchmarks that both document the downward trajectory of infections past, and prepare for potential viral spikes of the future, Saratoga and the seven other counties that surround it were cleared by the state to begin phase 1 of re-opening the local economy on May 20.
“I feel like we’ve been in a bubble,” said Emma Lance, poking her masked face through the door of the Saratoga Tea & Honey Shop on Broadway, where the day’s online orders and curbside pickups were being prepared. “You can’t see my mouth behind this mask,” she added, “but I’m smiling.”
Commercial photographer Tom Stock escaped his daily honey-do list posted inside his home by planting a metal folding chair in front of Uncommon Grounds coffee shop on Broadway, where he took in all the wonders the blue-sky Wednesday offered, while thinking about future reopening phases that will allow more shops to open and people to more readily mingle.
Wednesday’s Phase One reopening allowed for the first wave of industries to re-start - construction, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, manufacturing and wholesale trade, among them. Retail is limited to curbside or in-store pickup or drop off. For all businesses reopening, physical distancing measures, face covering protections and maximum indoor capacity adjustments must be implemented and maintained.
Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton, city police Chief Shane Crooks and Fire Department Chief Aaron Dyer – all members of Saratoga Springs’ COVID-19 Reopen Task Force – visited businesses door-to-door Wednesday morning, talking to store owners and employees, and handing out safety plans outlining how businesses’ workplaces can prevent the spread of COVID-19. New York State requires each re-opening business to develop a written safety plan. Businesses may develop their own safety plan or use a template provided by the state. (Details about obtaining those forms are below).
An Executive Order signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo put New York State on PAUSE on March 22, setting social distancing measures in place, closing non-essential businesses, and limited public gatherings in an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Statewide to-date, just over 350,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus. Overall, more than 28,000 have died due to COVID-19 in New York, more than 92,000 in the U.S., and more than 325,000 across the globe, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.
Current daily figures point to an average of just over 100 deaths per day in New York due to the virus, matching just about where those figures were on March 26. In April, the death tally spiked to greater than 700 per day for several days.
“We’re basically back to where we started before this tragedy descended upon us,” Gov. Cuomo said, this week.
“What will happen with reopening?” Cuomo remarked May 20, on the day the Capital Region reopened for phase one. “Whatever we make happen. There is no predestined course. What will happen is a consequence of our choices and a consequence of our actions,” he said. “If people are smart and responsible and if employers and employees are responsible, then you will see the infection rate stay low. If people get arrogant, if people get cocky, if people get casual or people become undisciplined – you will see that infection rate go up. It is that simple. It has always been about what we do.”
The governor also announced on Wednesday that religious gatherings of no more than 10 people will be allowed as long as statewide social distancing measures are enforced and participants wear masks. Earlier in the week, Cuomo announced racecourses – such as Saratoga Race Course and the Saratoga Casino’s harness track - may open June 1 without fans. NYRA subsequently announced the Belmont meet will get underway June 3 and will concludes July 12. The Saratoga meet is slated to open four days later.
“Do your part: wear a mask. It is amazing how effective that mask actually is,” Cuomo said Wednesday, pointing to statistics that show frontline workers - downstate hospital employees, transit workers, NYPD and FDNY/EMT workers – each having lower infection rates than the general population. “How can they all have a lower infection rate? They’re wearing the mask,” Cuomo said. “The mask works. It’s in the data.”
Meeting the metrics and maintaining control over the virus spread is key to remaining “open,” as well as in moving forward through the series of successive phases that will see the reopening of an ever-increasing number of additional businesses. That holds true for the entire “Capital Region” designation. The Capital Region sector is comprised of eight counties: Albany, Columbia, Greene, Saratoga, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Warren, Washington.
There are four reopening phases in all, and 14 days - or less, should metrics not increase, as deemed by regional leaders – are in between the phases. Those phases and dates are:
Potentially June 3 or sooner - Phase Two: Professional Services (which includes hairdressers and salons), Retail, Administrative Support, Real Estate / Rental and Leasing.
Potentially June 17 or sooner - Phase Three: Restaurants /
Potentially July 1 or sooner - Phase Four: Arts / Entertainment / Recreation, Education.
For businesses: Business plans do not need to be submitted to a state or local agency for approval, but must be retained on the premises of the business and must be made available to the New York State Department of Health (DOH) or local health or safety authorities in the event of an inspection.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — For the first time in its 53-year history, Saratoga Performing Arts Center has cancelled its classical season.
The cancellations include: SPAC's summer resident companies New York City Ballet, The Philadelphia Orchestra and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, as well as "Not Our First Goat Rodeo" featuring Yo-Yo Ma, and "SPAC on Stage."
SPAC along with its board of directors made the decision to suspend its programming this summer in recognition of the continued threat to health and safety caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“So much thought, care, heart and soul go into crafting and preparing for our summer season that we truly think of it as a love letter to our community. To find it necessary to cancel what would have been one of the most ambitious and artistically inspiring seasons to date is just gut-wrenching and inconceivable,” said Elizabeth Sobol, SPAC’s President and CEO, in a statement. “But the indisputable truth is that even with our park setting and our 5,200 seats, it would be simply impossible to find a way to keep the artists and the community safe.”
“SPAC has been New York City Ballet’s summer home since 1966 and this will be the first time in more than 50 years that the Company will not be performing in the capital region, which is devastating for all of us,” said NYCB Executive Director Katherine Brown. “However, the health and safety of our artists, staff, and audiences is our number one priority at this time, and we support SPAC’s decision to cancel this summer’s performances. All of us at New York City Ballet look forward to returning to SPAC next summer to perform for the wonderful and loyal fans who come to see us each summer in one of the country’s most beautiful performing arts venues.”
Due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis, SPAC faces the loss of millions of dollars in ticket, rental and sponsorship income. As a 501(c)3 charitable organization, SPAC depends on ticket sales and the generosity of individuals and corporate underwriters for 80% of its annual budget, which includes an education program that reaches 50,000 students throughout the Capital Region every year.
"For the past 53 years, SPAC has been a beacon of hope, light and refuge for the community -- and the support of the community has been critical to its life and longevity. The loss of ticket income, event sponsorships and key sources of revenue is going to hit SPAC incredibly hard. Continued community support through membership, ticket donations and philanthropic contributions will be critical to how SPAC emerges from the crisis,” added Sobol.
"That said, while our traditional season is unable to continue for 2020, SPAC leadership is committed to continuing to provide the kind of inspiring and transformative experiences for which SPAC is known and loved. Our dedication to art, artists and community is undimmed. If anything, we feel more galvanized than ever to serve as a sanctuary and cultural convener for our community during this time of uncertainty and darkness," said Sobol.
SPAC is holding dates for the return of New York City Ballet on July 13-17, 2021; The Philadelphia Orchestra on August 4-21, 2021; and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in August 2021, exact dates TBA.
For every ticketholder of the 2020 classical season who chooses to convert all or a minimum of $25 of their ticket purchase into a tax-deductible donation, SPAC will donate two 2021 tickets to first responders and local health care workers.
Visit SPAC.org for options to donate, receive a credit, or to request a refund for SPAC performances. Ticketholders will also be contacted directly via email with their ticketing options.
Any changes to the rock, pop and country concert schedule will be made directly by Live Nation and Ticketmaster, which programs and manages those shows in addition to their related ticketing policies. Visit https://www.livenationentertainment.com/ticketrefund/.
At the moment, the first two pop concerts of the season –June 24: KIDZ BOP Live 2020 Tour, and June 30: Steely Dan with Special Guest Steve Winwood, are still on. The cancellation of annual two-day Saratoga Jazz Festival was previously announced.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — At precisely noon on a May day in 1975, the Rolling Stones emerged atop a flatbed truck instruments in hand and performed live for a group of pedestrians lining Fifth Avenue in Greenwich Village.
Fast-forward to 2020: precisely at noon on Thursday, May 21, Caffe Lena will kick-off a celebration of the café’s 60th anniversary.
Billed as “Thursday, May 21: Caffe Lena Celebrates 60 Years of Song,” flatbed trucks will roll around town starting at noon with live bands playing music on the back. The café will announce the route in advance and say: we'd love to see you parked on the shoulder, waving and bopping in your decorated car.
At 7 p.m., a two-hour online program of stories, songs and photos will be livestreamed to celebrate each of the café’s six decades. The Tip Jar will be open for business and voluntary support for the event is welcome. The anniversary concert had originally been planned as Lena’s major fundraiser for 2020.
Meanwhile, Caffe Lena’s “Stay Home Sessions” broadcast at 8 p.m. and upcoming performances feature: Dan Berggren Friday, May 15; Chuck Lamb & Jorge Gomes Saturday, May 16; Peter Mulvey Monday, May 18, and Deena Chappell on Tuesday, May 19. For more information, go to caffelena.org.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The city may take several cost-cutting actions during its Tuesday, May 19 meeting as it looks for ways to fill an anticipated absence of revenue sources due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
City Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan estimated the city may lose $14 to $16 million in revenue in 2020 - nearly one-third its $48.7 million operating budget. Furloughs, deferred raises, retirements, and layoffs are all on the table.
“In the face of the absence of federal assistance coupled with revenue losses – all of our revenues pretty much - jurisdictions across the state are moving ahead with layoffs and furloughs,” Madigan said, during the council’s last meeting, earlier this month. “It is critical that we significantly reduce our spending now.”
Furloughs are preferable to layoffs, Madigan said, as they would provide immediate expense reductions as well as allowing those furloughed the ability to collect state unemployment funding as well as maintain their city-provided benefits. While 33 city employees are “available” for retirement, however, at retirement they would be due compensatory time, sick time and overtime pay.
“Many of our employees have reduced duties during our stay-at-home period while the city still pays them as if they were working a 100% schedule,” she said. “The more people we furlough now – and it will be difficult - the fewer we will need to consider laying off later in the year.”
Through the first quarter of 2020, the city announced it had collected just over $9.1 million (or 57%) in property taxes, but by the March 31 reporting date had not received many larger revenue streams. Those include: sales tax figures (March collections are distributed to the city in April and May), VLT Aid (paid in June), Hotel Occupancy Tax (April), Water and Sewer Revenues (May 15 due date) as well as other sources paid later in the year. The city is annually paid NYRA Admissions Tax for hosting the summer meet, but that funding outcome is not known for 2020 should NYRA decide to run at Saratoga while not admitting ticket-paying fans.
Every county in every region of the state saw a large drop in local sales tax collections in April, according to a report announced by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli on May 12. Social distancing protocols were established with the “New York State on PAUSE” initiative, which has shuttered non-essential businesses and offices since March 22.
Of all regions in the state, the greater Capital District had the most severe decline – down 28.8 percent and totaling $42.6 million - down from $59.9 million exactly one year earlier.
Saratoga County was down from $10 million to $7.4 million overall, and tax collections in Saratoga Springs specifically dropped from $900,000 in April 2019 to $700,000 in April 2020, according to the report, which rounds figures in millions of dollars.
To compensate for a potential $14 million to $16 million revenue shortfall in Saratoga Springs in 2020, the council is contemplating the use of approximately $4.5 million of the city’s unassigned and unrestricted fund balance, Madigan said, as well as “$1 million from the re-assignment of various assignments, $2.4 million in a budget note due to be paid back at the end of 2021, and $4 million in departmental expense reductions.” Those measures total $11.9 million, leaving a projected revenue shortfall of $2.1 to $4.1 million.
Earlier this month, the City Council approved a series of budget transfer resolutions to fund the last stage of renovations at City Hall, which has been closed since an August 2018 lightning strike caused substantial damage to the 19th century structure. Shortly after the closure of City Hall, the city relocated most of its operations to the Vanderbilt Avenue recreation facility.
Approximately $567,000 is required to complete the renovation of the building.
To that point, the City Council unanimously approved moving $167,000 from the building reserve fund, $151,000 that had been targeted for the Saratoga Arts building, and more than $188,000 of the $200,000 it had previously approved for Recreation Department Skate Park improvements at East Side Rec. Last week, the city announced the cancellation of Recreation Department summer events and camps.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The city’s three Land Use Boards – the Planning Board, Design Review Commission, and Zoning Board of Appeals have resumed their public meetings, which are currently held virtually via Zoom videoconferencing. They may be viewed by visiting the city of Saratoga Springs website at saratoga-springs.org.
This week, the DRC is expected to preside over architectural reviews regarding Station Lane Apartments - a new three-building, 39-unit apartment complex on the city’s west side, and Bethesda Episcopal – a mixed-use 4-story building at 26 Washington St.
Additionally, a popular Stewart’s Shop, which has operated at 402 Lake Avenue since 1990, is seeking an area variance that will redevelop/expand the current shop into a 4,130 square foot convenience store, with two gasoline fueling canopies. The improvements will “bring the building into closer aesthetic alignment with its surroundings,” according to documents filed with the city.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Robin Dalton surveyed the all-important region’s chart of metrics. There are seven metrics in all and once all seven are satisfied, Saratoga Springs, Saratoga County and the seven other counties that flank it may begin a phased reopening of their businesses.
Number of tests that will be conducted on residents: check. Contact tracers: check. Hospital beds and ICU beds available: check, and check.
“I think we’re getting close,” says the city’s Public Safety Commissioner, who alongside Fire Department Chief Joe Dolan and Chief Aaron Dyer, Police Chief Shane Crooks and Chief John Catone, Deputy Public Safety Commissioner Eileen Finneran, and Risk and Safety Manager Marilyn Rivers comprise the City of Saratoga Springs COVID-19 Task Force.
The group is, among other things, putting the finishing touches on safety guideline protocols and procedures for businesses in Saratoga Springs.
“I think it’s really important for businesses to think about a plan of what things will look like when they open,” she says. “Soup-to-nuts we’re trying to make it as easy as possible for businesses to reopen without having to seek out additional guidelines from anywhere else.” The list of protocols will be made available during the next few days, with copies distributed to city businesses and available for download on the city’s website.
“Recovery will look different in every business, because you have unique situations. You have to accommodate social distancing, mask-wearing, hand-sanitizers. Every business will look different,” Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, said during a Facebook Live event forum hosted by Saratoga County on May 13.
Before it may start its phased re-opening however, the region as a whole must hit on all its metrics. The tallies change daily, but at this point in mid-May, it has not reached acceptable grades regarding declines in hospitalizations and patient deaths in hospitals.
The seven-metric standard for reopening were established based on guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Department of State, and other public health experts.
New York State is separated into 10 geographical regions each comprised of a half-dozen or so counties. Saratoga is located in an eight-county “Capital Region” sector which stretches from Columbia County to Warren County. This week, four of the ten regions announced they had met all seven metrics. They include: the Finger Lakes Region, Mohawk Valley, Southern Tier and the North Country – which begins north and west of Warren County and stretches to the Canadian border.
NY ON PAUSE
Two months ago, an Executive Order signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s put New York State on PAUSE. The plan went into effect March 22 and put social distancing measures in place, closed non-essential businesses, and limited public gatherings in an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Those efforts to “flatten the curve” were successful. After peaking in late March and into early April, the charted rate of infections, hospitalizations and number of deaths slowly began to decline.
The governor’s daily public briefings have showcased the graphs and tracked the trends.
May 8: “We have the beast on the run. We haven’t killed the beast – but we’re ahead of it. The hospitalization rate is coming down, the death rate is coming down, so that’s all good news and I feel that – for the first time in this engagement – we are actually ahead of the virus. We have the virus on the run because we have been smart, because we have been disciplined.”
May 10: “We’re right about where we were March 19, when we went into the abyss of the COVID virus…from my point-of-view, we’re on the other side of the mountain. All the arrows are pointed in the right direction.””
May 11: “It’s an exciting new phase. We’re all anxious to get back to work. We want to do it smartly. We want to do it intelligently, but we want to do it. That’s what this week is going to be all about.”
AFTER REOPENING, STAYING OPEN
One key component after reopening is having a keen eye on potential rising infection rates, and a steady hand to slow that rise.
“Watch for infections,” Cuomo said. “The local region has a Control Room and a Circuit Breaker: If You see those dials going into the red zone – if you closely watch the dials you won’t have to turn the valve off – you would just have to slow the valve a little bit. You can’t overwhelm your hospitals. It depends upon how smart you are with your openings.”
The person in Saratoga charged with having that keen eye and steady hand is County Administrator Spencer Hellwig - who was named to Gov. Cuomo’s Regional Control Room team for the Capital District alongside leaders from other counties in the region. It is his responsibility to watch the dials and “slow the valve,” before the numbers spike to a point where everything must shut down.
“When you hit all seven metrics that doesn’t mean: OK, we’re done. Monitor every day. That’s the regional responsibility. Look at those numbers every day. See what’s happening with those numbers every day and respond to those numbers. That’s the responsibility of every county. That has to be watched every day and you have to calibrate your level of activity every day,” Cuomo said May 13. “If people get cavalier, cocky, if they get arrogant, we’ll be right back in the same situation.”
Striking the perfect balance of “reopening” the economy while maintaining the safety of public health is key. “That is the struggle, constantly weighing these two things,” Dalton says. “Both have to win. We can’t have a loser. The economy has to do well, and people have to stay alive and healthy.”
Businesses in each region will re-open in phases. Re-opening refers to non-essential businesses, essential businesses that are open will remain open. The breakdown of industries in each phase: Phase One - Construction, Manufacturing, Retail – Curbside Pickup, Wholesale Trade, Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting; Phase Two - Professional Services, Retail. Administrative Support, Real Estate / Rental & Leasing; Phase Three - Restaurants / Food Services; Phase Four - Arts / Entertainment / Recreation and Education. Regions aside, drive-In movies have been deemed able to reopen by the governor. Malta Drive-In, located on Route 9, is slated to open their season Friday, May 22 with new protocols and guidelines.
There is a recommended 14 day wait in between the opening of phases. “Fourteen days is a preliminary estimate,” Cuomo said May 12. “Why 14 days? You got infected, the virus manifests. If you get seriously ill, you end up in a hospital. That takes about 14 days. But, you can watch it all along. If those rates are staying low, can you accelerate the 14 days? Theoretically yes. If you’re testing isn’t moving (in a negative direction), then you could say: we’re in good shape, less accelerate.”
On May 12, Saratoga County Board of Supervisors Chairman Preston Allen announced the creation of a reopening advisory group tasked with guiding the county’s reopening efforts. The group will focus on CDC guidelines in a phased-in approach for businesses and necessary health precautions related to the county and coordinate these efforts with the other seven counties that comprise the Capital District region.
The advisory group is made up of supervisors Jack Lawler, Ed Kinowski, Eric Connolly, Tom Richardson, Kevin Tollisen, Dan Pemrick, and Matt Veitch; Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo; County Public Health Services Director Cathi Duncan, Stewart’s Shops President Gary Dake, county Chamber President Todd Shimkus, and Charles V. Wait, President and CEO, Adirondack Trust Co.
“The County has selected this diverse group to navigate the complicated reopening process, Supervisor Preston Allen said in a statement. “While we all recognize that the economy must open back up soon, we cannot do this hastily or without regard for the serious public health concerns. This group will be thoughtful and pragmatic, with the best interests of county residents serving as a guiding principle.”
On May 12, Saratoga Springs extended its State of Emergency for another 30 days, until June 12. The order allows the city the ability of its emergency management committee to make decisions regarding how it responds to the virus in the city and is a critical component of following ICS (Incident Command Systems) forms, as well as ensuring FEMA guidelines are being followed.
“We’re doing this in a way so that we’re documenting every single thing we’re doing in the hope that we’re getting reimbursed after the fact, but it also gives us the freedom to react as a city, as opposed to whatever the state’s doing, if for some reason our numbers suddenly go up,“ Dalton said.
“I would implore people to follow the rules, because if we have a group of businesses that just open up out of their own self-interests, it is going to have a dramatically negative effect on our area,” Dalton says. “We all need to be working for the collective good.”
There are two different types of tests; a nasal swab test determines whether a person currently has the COVID-19 virus. An antibody test – which is a blood test – seeks to identify whether a person previously had the virus.
Currently, just two venues located in Saratoga County where testing is conducted – there are additional resources in Warren and Albany counties - and the criteria for testing in either case is for persons symptomatic or who have had exposure to a positive case.
Saratoga Hospital conducts the swab test at a tent located at the Alfred Z. Solomon Emergency Center on Myrtle Street. Appointment and referral from physician or local health department is required. Contact your doctor for assessment. Providers may call to set up appointment. Go to: www.saratogahospital.org/covid19.
Well Now Urgent Care on Route 9 in Clifton Park offers both tests. No appointment is needed. Testing is covered in full for patients that carry insurance as part of the CARES Act. For self-pay patients, testing costs $150 for the molecular (PCR) test and $100 for the antibody test, in addition to a charge for the base visit. Go to: wellnow.com/covid-19.
ALBANY — During his Friday afternoon press conference, Gov. Andrew Cuomo specified that COVID-19 infection rates have fallen much more "dramatically" in regions of upstate New York than they have downstate, but stopped short of officially announcing portions of the state will reopen after May 15, when the governor's "NY on PAUSE" order expires.
“We have the beast on the run. We haven’t killed the beast – but we’re ahead of it. The hospitalization rate is coming down, the death rate is coming down, so that’s all good news and I feel that – for the first time in this engagement – we are actually ahead of the virus," Cuomo said.
"We have the virus on the run because we have been smart, because we have been disciplined," he said.
"If you look at these numbers now, and factor them forward, the numbers in upstate New York have been dramatically different than downstate... and we’ll be talking about construction, manufacturing, reopening in upstate," Cuomo said. “We get to May 15, I’ll lay out the numbers – here are the numbers, and here is what the numbers say."
Cuomo added: "Downstate, I don’t think those numbers are going to change dramatically enough to make a difference in the next few days."
SARATOGA SPRINGS — First, the money. In 2019, $2.1 billion was wagered on 2,000 races at Saratoga, Aqueduct and Belmont, according to the New York Racing Association.
The Saratoga meet (40 days) delivered the largest return of gambled money - $147 million wagered at the track, and a $705 million all-source handle – meaning many more dollars were spent on Saratoga races at off-track betting sites across the globe, than were at the actual track. Other 2019 betting dollars: Belmont Spring & Summer – 48 days, $525 million all-source handle; Belmont Fall – 37 days, $275 million; Aqueduct – 25 days Fall, $205 million.
What they are saying about Saratoga:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: You can’t open an attraction that could bring people from across the state to that attraction and overwhelm a region. We have time to decide first of all, but I don’t think you can open Saratoga Race Course (slated July 16) and the State Fair (Syracuse – slated Aug. 21) unless we can open all large-scale attractions statewide. Density is not our friend...How do you do sit six feet apart at the racetrack?
New York Racing Association plans to open at Belmont first, then Saratoga - Closing to spectators and reducing employees and support staff to only those who are required under the rules of racing.
Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, 113th Assembly District: move forward planning to hold this year’s race meet. Potential “opportunities including but not limited to social distancing, limited viewership, and personal protective equipment.”
Elsie Stefanik, 21st Congressional District: explore options for the racecourse to reopen for the meet with updated operations based on public health recommendations. Protect public health but also ensure the meet moves forward in a modified capacity to protect the public's health.
Board of Directors of the Adirondack Trust Company: give NYRA time to draw up careful plans—subject to state approval—that would allow a limited number of fans to attend racing consistent with safety protocols. Examples: limiting the number of seats and/or entry tickets sold, marking and monitoring designated viewing areas to ensure proper social distancing, plexiglass screens, mandatory temperature checks and masks, changes in backstretch housing and strong protections for workers, strictly enforced.