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Capital Region Communities Adapting To A Month Of Shutdown

COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 37 locations across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.
Composite Image by Dave Lucas (WAMC / cdc.gov)

As the pandemic continues, local officials are doing their best to help residents through the "pause" in daily activities.
Local businesses and local economies are taking a tremendous hit. In Albany, Mayor Kathy Sheehan has been easing some rules and regulations to help restaurants that remain open for take-out stay afloat.
 "What we have done is to create more parking and make curbside pickup safer for the restaurants and employees and customers, we've lifted the time limit parking restrictions across the city. And we've also created designated curbside pickup parking. So we've created some signage, it's easy to see. And you can see where you can safely pull in and pick up from places that are still offering takeout. And I do want to make sure that our restaurants know that if they want these takeout signs and they want to be included in this program, they can just contact us they can email me at Mayor at Albanyny.gov. They can call City Hall at 434-5105 and we can help them get that signage. And if you go on the city website, we do have a list of all of the restaurants in the city that are still open for pickup."
Albany Common Councilor Richard Conti says the panel has begun conducting remote meetings after Governor Andrew Cuomo allowed such open meetings to be done over webcam for now.
"We're using different types of technology, teleconferencing and video conferencing. And we've already had actually one special meeting of the Council, which we held on March 26. And we convene that meeting using teleconferencing technology Zoom, which I guess is the platform most used, and we had all 15 members online."
Conti says the next regular meeting set for April 6 will be livestreamed on Facebook. The public can comment using a form on the city website.
Albany's Center For Law And Justice has been around for 35 years. Executive Director Alice Green says the community expects it to be there so this is no time to be idle.
 "People still have crises that they need to deal with. So we want to make sure that they can get ahold of us. Our staff is small, so what we've done is closed our Center for this week. And we have posted on the door where they can get ahold of us. We're also on the internet, indicating where they can go to get services. We have information and we keep up to date on what's happening throughout the area regarding social services."
Green says the center's advocacy work is also continuing.
Across the river, Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin is working on getting the Troy Farmers’ Market open again —minus the crafts so distance can be kept between vendors and people.
"We're making some good headway. We've offered up our parking lot here at the county building as a temporary space on the weekend. We're happy to do that. We think we have a good entry and exit type strategy and can keep folks separated. Thankfully the weather is starting, you know, kind of broken, although you wouldn't know it from the six inches of snow we got the other day, but we're definitely on the upswing weather wise. So we're working closely with the city. We want to get it open."

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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