Melissa Hale-Spencer

“We’re starting to see a slight uptick in cases, which is a big concern,” said Albany County Health Commissioner Elizabeth Whalen, noting, “It only takes a small number of cases to start … exponential growth of COVID in the county.”

“Numbers speak,” said Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy as he noted that the Capital Region, among New York’s 10 regions, is tied with the Southern Tier, for second lowest in percentage of positive tests, at 0.7 percent; the very lowest is the North County at 0.1 percent.

“We tried some things at the organizational meeting and really quickly, maybe a month later, we realized that maybe those weren’t the right steps so we got those boards back reinstated pretty quickly,” said Berne Supervisor Sean Lyons on Friday.

While President Donald Trump and Republican State Assembly members are calling for schools to reopen this fall, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday that the state will decide during the first week of August, based on data, whether schools will reopen then. The state’s Regents chancellor, acting education commissioner, and the largest teachers’ union all backed the governor’s announcement. Plans to reopen schools are due from the state’s more than 700 districts on July 31.

On the heels of the Fourth of July weekend, Albany County Health commissioner Elizabeth Whalen said the county has been receiving complaints of residents who are returning from visits to listed states. Whalen urged those residents to contact the health department, to follow the 14-day required quarantine, and to get tested.

Calling Guilderland’s fall reopening plan “a work in progress,” Superintendent Marie Wiles said, “We have not made any decisions on the structure … We’re doing our homework. We’re waiting for key guidance on the amount of distance we have to provide between and among students.”

“The state has directed all 700 school districts to come up with a plan on how they would reopen,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “There's two levels of discussion: Should they reopen and then, if they reopen, what does a reopened school look like in the ‘new normal?’”

Asked why Guilderland was eager to change now when earlier administrations had been unwilling, Superintendent Marie Wiles said, “We’re at a watershed moment in our country. George Floyd and what happened to him just woke people up. Great numbers are starting to see there really is systemic racism that we haven’t been really appreciative of.” She also said, “We’ve got the trifecta,” and referenced the coronavirus pandemic, economic uncertainty, and social unrest. “Maybe that’s what it takes to wake us up,” said Wiles.

Albany County Health Commissioner Elizabeth Whalen said of the 14 positive COVID-19 tests in a single day, “Even though today may be a blip, 14 cases is a big concern … This is a direction that can take us backwards.”

The Capital Region begins Phase 4 on Wednesday but large malls, gyms, and amusement parks are not allowed to open.


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