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Group: Ease COVID restrictions

Dr. Tamara Dunlap, right,of the Quarantine the Quarantine group, speaks at the Fulton County Board of Supervisors meeting Monday at the County Office Building in Johnstown. To the left is speaker Kristen Baker. Seated is Stratford Supervisor Heather VanDenburgh. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — Two members of the public addressed the Fulton County Board of Supervisors Monday about what they see as a need for county government to ease COVID-19 restrictions so local schools can open quicker.

County officials have said they’re hands are often tied by the state.

Speaking were Dr. Tamara Dunlap of Amsterdam, an area dentist who created the Quarantine the Quarantine Facebook group, and Kristen Baker of Johnstown.

Dunlap has been on a recent media blitz to try to open up schools more. Her group wants to open up schools at full capacity; limit school quarantine measures as applied to students exclusively who test COVID positive; and request mask requirements be kept to a minimum.

Dunlap told supervisors that if statistical data is applied as it was meant, and Fulton County Public Health Department guidelines are applied effectively in concert with state Education Law, some of those things can happen. She also questioned the six feet rules in schools.

“Fulton County is enforcing rules beyond the minimum,” she said.

She said restaurants and bars can ease restrictions, but schools are still following certain oppressive rules for COVID-19.

“On any given day, more children are at risk of being quarantined,” Dunlap said.

Baker discussed incidence rates as laid out by the state Department of Health, and how they can be applied more accurately in Fulton County.

Dunlap said mask requirements should be kept “at a minimum.” She strongly urged Fulton County officials to keep a close eye on county public health data to enforce health guidelines correctly.

“You are the elected representatives in Fulton County, therefore you represent our community,” Dunlap said.

No supervisors responded, as they are restricted to do so during public speaking portions of the meeting.

Gloversville 4th Ward Supervisor Charles Potter, chairman of the board’s Human Services Committee, later in the session gave a monthly COVID update. As of May 6, he said total positive cases in Fulton County was 4,239. There were: 57 active cases; 4,082 recovered individuals; nine currently hospitalized; 100 total deaths; and 101,351 persons tested. Fulton County had a 2 percent, seven-day rolling average, he said.

“The most important statistic to me is that seven-day rolling average,” Potter said.

Potter also reported the vaccination “focus” now in Fulton County is on high school students.

“Most counties, including our’s, have witnessed a dramatic decline in persons looking for vaccinations,” he said.

Stead said that 2 percent rate was last week, but it is now over 3 percent.

“A lot of it is more about the size of that group that might be positive,” he said.

Stead said that if Fulton County has a rise of 1 percent, that represents about five people. In Albany County, such a rise might be about 30 people, he said.

He also reported that the Fulton County Public Health Department is getting away from the large-scale vaccinations like it has been conducting weekly at Fulton-Montgomery Community College. He said only 10 first shots, and 200 second shots, were given last week at FMCC.

Stead said county Health Director Laurel Headwell indicated her department will be relying more on mobile vaccinations at some of the schools. The population is also still receiving pharmacy vaccinations.

With the student vaccinations, he said the Pfizer shot must be administered and a colder storage is needed.

“It takes a lot of moving around because you need Pfizer,” Stead said. “I’m very proud of what they’ve been doing.”

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