As cases mount, county stresses enforcement

Enterprise file photo

Thanksgiving dinners, like this traditional annual community gathering in Voorheesville, will not be held this year. 

ALBANY COUNTY — As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Albany County, the county executive on Thursday stressed enforcement as opposed to his usual conciliatory approach.

Governor Andrew Cuomo for months has called on local governments to enforce regulations but Albany County has largely used an approach of warning and education rather than fining.

On Wednesday, to stem the coronavirus surge, Cuomo announced new state restrictions that bars, restaurants, and gyms must be closed between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., and that private gatherings cannot exceed 10 people.

On Friday, Daniel McCoy, Albany County’s executive, noted, “Enforcement falls on municipalities.”

He went on, “The governor issued an executive order on Oct. 6 allowing localities to issue fines under the Sanitation Code. That falls to the towns, cities, and villages … if they choose to do that.”

Fines of $1,000 per day can be levied if nonessential businesses are open outside of permitted hours. A person not wearing a face mask in public can be fined $1,000. And organizers exceeding gathering limits can be fined up to $15,000.

“I can assure you there’s not a mayor or supervisor that wants to do that,” said McCoy. “I can assure you there’s not a police department that wants to go in and fine people … Help us. That’s all we’re saying: Help us.”

McCoy also said, “It’s not about giving up freedoms and rights. This is a health crisis.”

He went on, “If you are challenging us, we will make sure the local police get there and fine you if that’s what you want.”

He mentioned a radio show where challenges were made by people saying they would gather, without masks and social-distancing, for Thanksgiving and would hug and kiss.

“No one wants to go to anyone’s house, especially on a holiday and break up a party or arrest somebody …,” said McCoy. “We don’t need this.”

He concluded of challenging authorities, “We’re better than that.”

More Regional News

  • “When it comes to this vaccine, access has to be fair all across the board,”said Governor Andrew Cuomo. “We’re working with 300 churches to distribute the vaccine. We’re working with public housing authorities all across the state.”

  • The governor wrote to Pfizer on Monday to see if New York State could purchase COVID-19 vaccine directly from the company that made it.

  • Depending on the facility and the day, hospitals in the region are at 70- to 80-percent capacity. “Once we get to 85 percent, we get nervous,” said James Reed, the president and chief executive officer of St. Peter’s Health Partners. That is the number set by the state’s winter plan for battling COVID-19, requiring a region, at 21 days, to shut down.

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