County making plans to re-open

FONDA — Montgomery County will be working, along with other counties in the Mohawk Valley region to come up with the safest plan to reopen the county when that time comes.

Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort and Montgomery County Sheriff Jeff Smith gave an update on Facebook Live on Friday to provide residents with the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 pandemic.

As of Friday afternoon, Ossenfort said there are 47 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in the county, and of those 47 cases, 33 have made a full recovery and 33 others are being monitored in quarantine. There currently are no hospitalizations. In addition to those positive cases, there are 37 public health individuals being monitored.

Ossenfort said the county cannot open until Gov. Andrew Cuomo says it can.

“But what we can do is work regionally with folks in other counties and try to work together as one and present a plan on how we best feel we can reopen,” Ossenfort said.

He said as everyone continues to practice self isolation and social distancing to “cherish the fact that you live in the Mohawk Valley,” because unlike areas that have a high density of people, they do not have the luxuries as residents do here, such as walking or biking and other outdoor recreation activities.

And as the county starts make plans to reopen, Smith reminded residents to continue to respect one another.

“As we approach this time, all we ask is people pay attention to the rules and people try to follow the reopening rules so we don’t go on the other side of that curve and spike back up,” Smith said.

He also reminded residents to continue to follow the guidelines in place meant to keep them safe. Smith said members of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office have not had to make any arrests yet, but if they feel it necessary, arrests will be made.

“We have been receiving complaints, both through emails and phone calls, to our dispatch center. What we do is we send a car out, we interview them and we try to educate people. It is not our intentions nor our desire to ticket anyone or make any type of arrest in these situations,” Smith said. Ossenfort and Smith both said the longer the executive order is in place, the more eager people are to get back to normal and tempers are beginning to rise.

Compared to 2019, Smith said there has been an increase in the number of calls the sheriff’s office is getting, including mental health issues, fights, domestic violence and disorderly persons.

Between March 1 through April 24, Smith said there have been 24 calls for mental health, and in 2019 that number was at 13; there have been 29 calls for fights in that time period and in 2019 that number was at 17; there have been over 102 domestic violence calls and in 2019 that was at 67; and there have been 55 disorderly persons calls and in 2019 that was at 25 calls.

“An increase in those call volumes we assume is directly related to everyone being at home more and being cooped up and not having the ability to go to work and go out and do things they normally do,” Smith said. “Occasionally there is some alcohol involved. We’re just asking people to remember these are difficult times and to remember everyone is going through them. When we go to these types of calls we’re trying to be very patient with people and trying to educate them. We’re in this together.”

On Saturday until supplies ran out, Montgomery County and Fulton County Emergency Management teams partnered with the sate division of Homeland Security in a Mask Distribution event.

Ossenfort said there were a number of locations in both Montgomery and Fulton County participating.

If anyone has any concerns or questions call the Montgomery County Emergency Management office at (518) 853-4011 or the Fulton County Emergency Management office at (518) 736-5858.

By Patricia Older

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