Gloversville City Hall slated to reopen today

GLOVERSVILLE — City Hall will reopen to the public today following a two-month closure that was instituted in December as the number of local coronavirus infections began to climb.

Mayor Vincent DeSantis on Tuesday informed the Common Council that the local declaration of emergency he issued closing City Hall to the public in December and then extended in January would expire on Wednesday.

DeSantis shared plans to issue a modified order allowing City Hall to reopen today under the same coronavirus precautions that were implemented in June when the building reopened after its initial closure to the public at the start of the pandemic in mid-March.

Those conditions require all visitors and employees to wear face coverings at all times will inside City Hall and to follow social distancing guidelines. Access to departmental offices will be limited to one person at a time with any additional members of the public seeking in-person service to wait in the main hallway where chairs will be set up spaced at least 6 feet apart.

Coronavirus infection rates were swelling, said DeSantis, when the order closing the building in December was issued as a precaution to protect employees and safeguard city operations by limiting in-person contacts to reduce the risk of virus transmission.

The mayor pointed to the recent decline in case counts in explaining the decision to reopen the building as of today.

“The infection rates for the Mohawk Valley when we put this in place, I think it was close to 8 percent,” said DeSantis. “Now we’re down to 3 percent.”

The seven-day rolling positivity rate for the Mohawk Valley was at 8 percent when the mayor’s order took effect on Dec. 11 and 421 people tested positive for the virus that day, according to the state Department of Health. The current rolling seven-day positivity rate for the region has fallen to 2.9 percent and 142 people tested positive for the virus on Tuesday, the most recently reported day.

Although infections in the Mohawk Valley are collectively trending downward, coronavirus rates reported in Fulton County when the order closing City Hall was instituted to now are effectively at the same level. On Dec. 11, the county’s seven-day positivity rate was at 7.7 percent and 28 residents tested positive that day. The county’s positivity rate currently sits at 7.6 percent and 25 residents tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.

Current rates are down from the post-holiday infection rates that began picking up after Thanksgiving and continued to climb until after the new year. Fulton County experienced a single-day high number of positive coronavirus cases on Jan. 14 when 88 residents tested positive for the virus. The seven-day rolling average positivity rate reached 12.7 percent that day during a week that saw 335 Fulton County residents test positive for the virus.

Although city staffers continued to report to work handling transactions by phone or email or paperwork through a drop box located outside during the closure of City Hall to the public, DeSantis pointed to the reopening of the building as improving services for residents following the peak in local coronavirus cases.

“I think we can start moving forward with a little bit more availability of service to people,” said DeSantis.

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