UPDATE: Capital Region local coronavirus response guide

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Workers wearing protective gear spray disinfectant as a precaution against the new coronavirus at a department store in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, March 2, 2020. South Korea has the world’s second-highest cases. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Although no cases of coronavirus are reported in the Capital Region, local government agencies are nonetheless taking steps to prepare, and sharing those steps with citizens.

Stick with News10 to find out more about the coronavirus response in the Capital Region. We’ll update this page to bring you the latest information as it develops.

Albany County

We are monitoring individuals that have come back from high-risk areas. That responsibility has been placed on the local health departments. We currently have just tested one person and that test was negative, and we are monitoring eight households currently.

Albany County Health Commissioner Dr. Liza Whalen

City of Pittsfield

As information about the coronavirus continues to evolve, we recognize our community’s growing concerns about this global situation. We know that there are many messages about the coronavirus and what that means for Pittsfield.

Here are the facts: there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in the City of Pittsfield and the risk continues to remain low for coronavirus cases in Massachusetts, per the Massachusetts Department of Health.

The City of Pittsfield continues to seriously monitor these developments, and today (March 3) a core team of city and school officials met to discuss the city’s coronavirus preparedness plans.

As part of this strategic effort, Pittsfield will continue to firmly adhere to guidelines and protocols about the coronavirus, which have been established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Mass DPH. We are also working closely with members of our regional public health network, including the Berkshire County Board of Health Association and the Pittsfield Board of Health, to monitor and plan appropriately as more information becomes available.

It is important to remember that the risk for the flu remains high. It’s not too late to get a flu shot. Mass DPH recommends the following precautions that will help to prevent against the flu and ther viruses, including the coronavirus, include the following:
• Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
• Avoid touching your eyes and face.
• Clean things that are frequently touched (like doorknobs and countertops) with household cleaning spray or wipes.
• Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
• Stay home when feeling sick.

Statement from Mayor Linda Tyer on Coronavirus Concerns in the City of Pittsfield

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Dear Students,

You have been receiving weekly updates and recommendations from Student Health Services on how to best protect yourself during a time when we find ourselves in the midst of an ongoing global coronavirus outbreak. With the upcoming Spring Break, many of you will travel home or to other destinations. You should remain cautious and take all necessary precautions to keep yourself protected from the risk of possible infection.

As previously indicated, we are following the guidance from local, state, and federal health officials and updating our protocols as needed. We have recommended that Rensselaer also has a Pandemic Illness Plan that is regularly updated, and would be deployed if the situation demands. While no one can predict the spread of the outbreak, we all need to do everything possible to stay healthy. We would like to share with you some information to help you as you plan ahead for Spring Break.

As you travel, please follow the guidance from Dr. Leslie Lawrence’s recent communications that advises against travel outside of North America. If you do travel outside of the recommended area, be aware that there are “check-in” requirements. Additionally, you may also consider staying away from large public events, which may increase the chance of exposure.

The question on everyone’s mind is, will classes be interrupted? If the situation reaches that level and we have to consider suspending classes or closing the Institute, we will continue instruction using online resources and other tools as available. Please rest assured that we will work with all students to make sure you do not experience a detrimental impact due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Plan ahead and overpack. As you prepare to travel away from campus, we recommend you take the following items with you: textbooks, class notes, faculty and classmate contact information, passwords, laptop computers, and other devices that would allow you to connect remotely with the campus and continue your studies at a distance. We also encourage you to take any essential personal effects (e.g., medications) that you may need. This is recommended as a precautionary step in case the Institute is forced to close and prevents you from returning to campus to retrieve these resources.

To date, we have not had a confirmed case within our campus community and we are doing all we can to keep everyone safe. Although the outbreak and the cascading consequences are concerning, it is important to remain focused, vigilant, and proactive.

Letter from Dr. Peter Konwerski, Vice President for Student Life, and Provost Dr. Prabhat Hajela to students

Rivers Casino and Resort

Rivers Casino and Resort Schenectady takes great pride in the cleanliness and safety of our property every day. However, we are taking additional steps to mitigate the risks of coronavirus, which include additional cleaning and sanitizing of gaming machines and tables, signage to educate guests and team members on precautions such as hand-washing, and installing additional hand sanitizing stations for our guests and team members.

Statement from Rivers Casino and Resort

Saratoga County

Saratoga County has no reported cases of COVID-19, and two individuals who recently returned from travel in mainland China are being monitored for the development of any symptoms. These two individuals are in the final days of the monitoring period and are expected to be cleared, as they are not showing any signs of illness.

Saratoga County Public Health Services has procedures in place, that follow the guidance of the CDC and New York State Department of Health, to properly quarantine and isolate individuals who present symptoms of COVID-19 or other infectious diseases.

Importantly, we are reminding residents to follow recommended daily preventative actions that will reduce the risk of getting sick. Washing your hands or using hand sanitizer (when soap and water are not available), covering a cough or sneeze with tissue, and staying home from work or school when ill are simple ways to reduce the spread of germs.

Statement from Saratoga County Director of Public Health Services, Catherine Duncan

Schenectady County

Legislators want residents to know that the County is prepared in the event coronavirus spreads to Schenectady County. The County has a plan in place for pandemics, which is updated every two years.

In February, Schenectady County Public Health Services (SCPHS) developed a plan specifically for COVID-19 in cooperation with the NYS Department of Health. That plan is reviewed weekly as the situation changes.

“Our public health officials have experience preparing for these types of situations,” said Anthony Jasenski, Chair of the Schenectady County Legislature. “They are in constant contact with the state Department of Health to stay up-to-date on the situation and respond immediately, if necessary.”

“The County is working closely with the local healthcare system to put in place procedures to identify, isolate and test any residents or visitors who have been exposed to the virus,” said Legislator Michelle Ostrelich, Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. “This partnership and additional efforts to mitigate community transmission are vital to minimizing the potential effects it could have on the County.”

SCPHS has an Emergency Preparedness and Communicable Disease Team that participates in daily conference calls with the NYS Department of Health, develops and reviews County response plans with input from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and works with local community partners and schools to assist them in their own preparedness activities. All public health staff stays up-to-date through frequent educational sessions, and conduct 24/7 surveillance activities, as needed, to ensure the health and safety of County residents and visitors.

News release from the Schenectady County Legislature

Schoharie County

In response to the growing concern with the COVID 19 outbreak in New York State and the State of Emergency declared by Governor Cuomo, I have appointed a task force of county department heads to identify potentital scenarios and put together contignency plasn to address them keeping in mind the safety of our citizens, first reponsders, and county employees. It cannot be stressed enough there is no reason for panic, but it is important to reassure our residents and employees the county is prepared to address a possible occurrence related to this public health issue.

The task force will be working with a sense of urgency to present their recommendations to a specailly appointed Board of Supervisors oversight committee as quickly as possible. Contingency plans with complete transparency will be shared with the public as they are finalized.

Statement from Bill Federice, Charman of the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors

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