Plattsburgh’s mayor gave an update on the city’s preparedness for the coronavirus on Thursday. The city council later heard reports from police and fire chiefs on pandemic readiness.
Mayor Colin Read, a Democrat, has expected the spread of the coronavirus to reach Clinton County and is not surprised that county Health Department reported 11 positive cases as of Thursday. He says his assessment of the federal economic stimulus package parallels Governor Cuomo’s: that New York will not fare well. He expects a significant economic hit to the city. “We're self-insured. Our healthcare costs are expected to go up significantly and some other costs like overtime for our first responders. And meantime, our revenue from things like sales tax are expected to plummet significantly. The aid funding from Albany who knows that may be going down as well. People are having a hard time paying their Municipal Lighting bills and as you may have heard there's an executive order passed that will help individuals defer those costs from the governor. Property taxes may be an issue. People aren't paying their mortgages. So this also impinges on the private sector and the public sector here as well.”
Later, the common council’s Public Safety Committee received updated reports from police and fire departments on pandemic readiness. Plattsburgh Police Chief Levi Ritter told councilors they and other agencies did an inventory check of what they had and what might be needed early in the crisis. “At this point, we do have PPE as per the CDC guidelines for law enforcement. We have N95 masks and we have eye protection that officers can take out on patrol. But you can never have enough in a situation like that. I'm sure that the fire chief would agree. But our needs are very different from the fire department. So from a law enforcement standpoint we don't burn through as many masks as they might. So we do have enough to carry us to a certain point and we're fortunate to be in that position through a lot of friendships with other agencies getting lines on, on supply chains and through the Clinton County EOC. They've been very helpful.”
Fire Chief Scott Lawliss said his department also did a needs assessment about three weeks ago when the pandemic began to pick up speed. “We started stockpiling some of our needs what we thought make sure that if they did become short we would have them. Reached out and got our N95’s. And got what we needed for any cleaning and sanitizing products that we would use along with personal protective equipment higher than what law enforcement uses.”
Chief Ritter told councilors cleaning and sanitizing supplies must be replenished more regularly than masks or PPE’s. “That's something we've identified too is what we currently have in terms of cleaning supplies that will allow us to maintain a clean station. But also implementing a procedure where all the shared use items such as keyboards, telephone receivers, doorknobs, police vehicles, those kind of things are cleaned on a shift basis at the start of the shift and as necessary depending on the call that an officer might go out on. But at least every shift.”
Mayor Read emphasized the importance of social distancing. “Every reduced contact each one of us has in a given day, there's just one fewer avenue for potential infection and really giving the hospitals and the health care providers a fighting chance to stay ahead of this.”
Chief Ritter says police officers are following CDC protocols for traffic stops. He reported no current staffing needs but is calculating potential future worst case scenarios should officers become ill.