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DeSantis: Gloversville following state, federal mandates

GLOVERSVILLE — Mayor Vincent DeSantis on Tuesday said the decision this week to extend a previously issued declaration of emergency for the city through April 30 follows protocols issued by the state and federal government to slow the spread of the coronavirus through continued social distancing.

“It is logical for us here in Gloversville to take part in all of the measures that have been implemented statewide to try to slow the spread of the virus so that our healthcare systems can effectively treat the people who are infected,” said DeSantis.

DeSantis signed a declaration of emergency for the city on March 16 closing City Hall to the public and all non-essential staff that was set to expire on Tuesday. On Monday DeSantis signed an amendment extending the declaration through April 30.

The action locally followed an increasing number of restrictions on public gatherings and reductions in the percentage of non-essential workers allowed to work outside of their homes through executive orders issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in mid-March. On March 22 an executive order from Cuomo took effect temporarily closing all non-essential businesses statewide and banning all non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The governor’s order requires individuals in public to practice social distancing by maintaining a distance of at least six feet between individuals and requires essential businesses and agencies to implement rules that facilitate social distancing. Cuomo on Sunday extended the executive order and its provisions through at least April 15 subject to re-evaluation by the state for possible further extension.

Similarly, President Donald Trump on March 16 issued federal guidelines promoting social distancing, a shift to remote work practices and limits on social gatherings to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Trump on Sunday extended those guidelines through April 30.

DeSantis said he thought it better to base the extension of the declaration of emergency for the city on the longer timeline of the federal government, noting that the extension can be amended if the situation changes.

Since the declaration was issued DeSantis said most city employees have been working from home with those who are continuing to work inside of City Hall following social distancing precautions by maintaining a distance of at least six feet between individuals.

In offices where multiple individuals work, DeSantis said staff members are ensuring that they do not share workspaces and, in some cases, alternating working from home or at City Hall, as City Clerk Jennifer Mazur and Deputy City Clerk Terra Meher are currently doing.

Aside from emergency services personnel, DeSantis said City Hall is largely empty, even in his office.

“I’m just here in my office alone, my secretary is home,” he said.

For those continuing to work out of City Hall, DeSantis said the city is following best practices by regularly sanitizing common areas and ensuring individuals maintain personal hygiene by regularly washing their hand. He pointed to these practices as being especially important for members of the Gloversville Police Department and Gloversville Fire Department where staffing levels have been maintained at their normal levels.

“So far we’ve been very successful in containing it and haven’t had anyone one get sick, so these measures are effective,” said DeSantis.

For the most part, DeSantis said city business has been able to carry on as per usual despite a majority of the workforce working from home.

“We have been able to handle things in a way that does not endanger ourselves or anyone around us,” said DeSantis. “All of things that are essential are being handled.”

The only departure from normal activities that DeSantis expressed disappointment over was the inability of the Department of Public Works to take advantage of the fair weather in recent days while only essential staff members report for work each day for tasks deemed necessary by the statewide restrictions such as garbage collection.

“Right now we would be filling potholes and sealing streets, we would be doing all of those remedial things. Because of the early spring we would have a chance very early on to repair any damage done to the streets this winter, but we can’t do that now because we can’t have crews out working together,” said DeSantis. “It is hampering some efforts we could be doing to take care of things, but by same token, just like every other business, we have to step back and take it as it comes.”

Still, DeSantis expressed optimism over the ability of city residents to enjoy the outdoors while following social distancing guidelines and adhering to coronavirus related restrictions.

“We’re very lucky up here, because we don’t live in a densely populated area where it is difficult to maintain distance. We don’t have a lockdown, people can go out of the house they just have stay six feet away from other people,” said DeSantis.

For the most part, DeSantis said residents in the city have been complying with the statewide restrictions and maintaining their distance while out in public, which he pointed to as an important step to slow the spread of the coronavirus and ensure the healthcare system is able to effectively treat individuals as they become ill.

“I have the utmost respect for the people who are at the frontlines of this, our healthcare workers at our superb hospital that we have in Gloversville, Nathan Littauer Hospital. I have a very deep appreciation for their good work and preparedness in the face of this and I think that we’re really lucky to have them,” said DeSantis. “And if we all do our part and all follow the rules, washing the hands, keeping healthy, staying at home, keeping your distance from other people, I think we all participate in making their jobs easier.”

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