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Capital Region News

Coronavirus: Albany County Prepares

Albany County officials have outlined their strategy for protecting public health as coronavirus cases mount in New York.

Albany County Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Elizabeth Whalen says any local cases of COVID-19 that surface will be subject to epidemiologic investigation.    "Not everyone that contracts coronavirus will require hospitalization. So it's important that we start to consider how these people can be managed at home so that they have the least opportunity to transmit this disease to others. That is how we talk about isolation. We have also been coordinating with the state on all testing, all current testing for coronavirus in New York state, goes through the local health department."

"The reality is you have to stay calm. You can't panic. Don't read the internet. If it's not a factual site, it's not CDC, don't believe it. If it's not your news agencies putting out there, don't believe it. Masks aren't gonna help." ~ Albany County Executive Dan McCoy

Democratic County Executive Dan McCoy says facilities will be pressed into service should there be a need to quarantine a large number of individuals. He would not identify those places and cautioned it's "way too soon" to even be thinking that the spread of the virus would necessitate such action.    "The reality is you have to stay calm. You can't panic. Don't read the internet. If it's not a factual site, it's not CDC, don't believe it. If it's not your news agencies putting out there, don't believe it. Masks aren't gonna help. It's a waste of your money to go online. There's going to be a ton of scams out there that no one's even talking about, because we're all focused on the coronavirus. There's already a ton of scams out there, that people are selling stuff that it's not even proven. It's not even stamped of approval from the FDA. Don't buy it. Trust me, you don't need the mask. And the first responders and all that, one of the things I'm going to be working with the Albany County Legislature is, you know, look, there's funding that's going to have to be freed up if we get to that stage. But right now, we're not, we're just we're staying ahead of it. And I believe the leadership of the governor, and what everyone's doing in the health community. We've been prepared for this, and if we can keep that curve down. that's our intention."

Whalen says households should practice preventive actions and plan ahead for closings of schools or workplaces. She says businesses should also be pro-active, encourage sick employees to stay home and look into setting up flexible worksites and flexible hours.   "So there's three categories of what are called non-pharmaceutical interventions or the community mitigation strategies. These include personal. These are measures for everyday use. And if everybody here leaves home with the take home message, it's know what this means. This is hand hygiene. This is respiratory hygiene. These are the points about making sure you wash your hands frequently, utilizing hand hygiene products. If you are touching surfaces frequently, if you use a computer that others are using to wipe down surfaces, to cough into your elbow, if you are coughing, and to stay at home, if you're sick. Community NPIs include alteration of business practice, school closures, social distancing, and cancellation of mass gatherings. So this is a next phase that we're not there yet, but we need to consider how we are planning for this."

Schenectady County officials say they too are monitoring developments round the clock.

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