Fulton County extends state of emergency

JOHNSTOWN — Fulton County’s State of Emergency was extended on Wednesday for another 30 days, until May 15. This action extends the original State of Emergency declared for the time period of March 16 through April 15.

Through the issuance of this declaration, the chairman and other county officials “garner additional flexibility to address emergency procurement, personnel matters, employee transfers and other operations,” authorities said.

In addition to the multitude of state-level Executive Orders by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, this step provides certain emergency powers to the chairman. The authority allows for officials to respond promptly to implement preparedness, mitigation measures to confront the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to a news release.

Greene participated in multiple conference calls during the past week, including several calls with Cuomo’s representatives and a briefing by the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, the release said. Greene said the Fulton County COVID-19 Task Force meets daily and has been monitoring the local spread of COVID-19, and that they are introducing state and federal actions, addressing positive cases as they arise and implementing measures to prevent further spread.

As part of the initiative, county departments will still be working with a reduced workforce.

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said as part of Cuomo’s extension of N.Y. Pause on April 10, Fulton County’s department heads were advised to extend the county’s workforce reduction plan — 50 percent — through April 29.

“With the prior enactments of these workforce reduction steps mandated by the governor, the county also extended closure of its buildings to walk-in access by the public,” said Stead. “Most departments are operating, but not open to in-person service.”

He said the public can still obtain service by contacting the department by telephone, mail or internet access.

“The public is encouraged to call county departments for detailed information on their specific procedures during the COVID-19 period,” said Stead.

The order keeps in effect the suspension of all visitation to the Fulton County Correctional Facility.

In addition to this specific order, Greene underscored the importance of adhering to “Executive Order 202” issued by Cuomo.

The following recommendations were also issued as special orders at the first declaration:

∫ Support the decision of school superintendents to close school districts within Fulton County for a period commensurate with each superintendent’s pronouncements regarding classroom and extracurricular activities.

∫ Called upon the public to avoid gatherings of 50 persons or more as recommended in accordance with the governor’s order. Cuomo ordered restaurants and bars to close for on premise service and move to take-out and delivery only. This included movie theaters, gyms and casinos.

∫ Called upon all members of the public to avoid in-person visits for county services whenever possible by using telephone, mail, email or other internet contacts.

Green complimented all health care staff around the region for their selfless efforts treating patients and combating the virus’ spread.

“We have to ‘keep pulling together by staying apart’, which seems so unnatural for most of us,” Greene said. “I urge all residents and businesses to do their part to social distance and save lives. Our health care workers, first responders and law enforcement personnel are doing their part, so we need to do ours.”

Stead underscored this reminder.

“One, [remember to keep] social distancing at six feet or more,” he said in a news release. “Two, wear a face covering when in public; make hand washing and hand sanitizer a natural habit [and,] four in a friendly manner, remind others to do the same.”

By Patricia Older

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