Plattsburgh’s outgoing mayor discussed several topics Monday affecting the city including a pilot program for early detection of coronavirus and how downtown parking has been shifted to compensate for a planned development.
While overall numbers are low with current active cases at 34, Clinton County saw a 63 percent increase in COVID-19 cases in October. Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read said affected populations were effectively isolated and he called on the public to remain vigilant. “The big issue now is now is not large outdoors groups. It’s small indoor groups that are assembling. So we’re really asking you to please confine your social gatherings to your household only. We don’t want to have the outbreaks facing the rest of the country also occurring here.”
Clinton County Health Director John Kanoza says the region is seeing new cases because people are spending more time inside. “Even the small gatherings we must be wary of. Right now we’re chasing some cases from a small birthday party. So please be aware that you need to be on the lookout for situations where you could be in close contact with others.”
SUNY Plattsburgh went seven weeks without a positive case but on October 12th new cases began to emerge. There are now 41 students and 10 employees in mandatory or precautionary quarantine. Fifteen students are COVID positive and in isolation. President Dr. Alexander Enyedi said they worked with the local health department and city agencies to contact trace and isolate the cases. “The cases since October 12th are not connected to any party or any large gathering. These are just small house gatherings that result in what we call community transfer.”
Since September the city has been testing wastewater entering its treatment facility for COVID-19. City Environmental Manager Jonathan Ruff says the pilot project cannot pinpoint the location of the virus but rather alerts officials to a potential outbreak. “The data seems to track somewhat closely with the number of positive tests that have occurred across the county a little bit in advance. So the interpretation of this type of data is probably as much an art as a science right now. But it does seem to be very useful as kind of a canary in the coal mine, so that you can get the word out to the public and have people perhaps exercise greater social distancing.”
Mayor Read discussed other city issues including new parking that has become available in the downtown area to compensate for planned development on the current Durkee Street parking lot. “Turns out we’ve got the same amount of parking during the day and actually more parking at night and weekends once Prime is completed. Now as you can see its spread out all across the downtown rather than being concentrated just on one corner of downtown.”
Mayor Read lost June’s Democratic primary and will leave office on January 1st. He would not say if he is voting for Democrat Chris Rosenquest or Republican Scott Beebie to succeed him. “I’m going to vote for one of the two candidates that are standing for mayor. I hope whoever does get elected understands the seriousness of the job, the difficulty of the job and the things that we still have to accomplish.”
The city of Plattsburgh has also launched a new website designed in collaboration with Clinton County and modeled after the city of Albany’s website.