COVID cases, quarantine numbers continue to grow


By Patsy Nicosia

Schoharie County has reported four additional cases of COVID-19 bringing the total to 102, Public Health Director Amy Gildemeister told supervisors Friday.
The latest cases appear to be related to social gatherings, she said, and include Clapper’s Glass Bar.
And as an example of how deep the impact can go, one of Thursday’s cases required putting a dozen people in quarantine.
SUNY Cobleskill continues to do a good job with monitoring students; of the 675 students, faculty, and staff pool tested last week, all were negative.
One student not part of the pool testing tested positive, Dr. Gildemeister said, and according to the SUNY COVID-19 Dashboard, the college has administered 2,780 tests to date.
An uptick in wastewater monitoring results moved classes to all-online for Monday.
“They’re doing everything they can,” Dr. Gildemeister said of the college’s efforts.
“More difficult for us, quite frankly, are our local citizens. With the number of cases…we’re starting to see some potential outbreak.”
And so while they’d rather spend time helping people and organizations plan safe events before they happen, much of the Health Department’s time is not being spent on enforcement, Dr. Gildemeister said.
The penalties have increased: $15,000 for violating crowd size requirements and $1,000 for each individual not wearing a mask or social distancing.
“It does mount very quickly,” she said.
Jefferson Supervisor Peggy Hait asked where the fines go; Dr. Gildemeister answered that just like any other environmental fine, to the county’s general fund.
Supervisors’ chairman Bill Federice asked whether the Health Department investigated before assuming complaints are legit and Dr. Gildemeister answered absolutely.
Sometimes, somone will file a compliant to deliberately get someone in trouble or because they misread the situation, she said.
“We never assume based on a complaint. We always verify,” she said.
Fulton Supervisor Phil Skowfoe questioned the constitutionality of requiring masks at family-type events.
That’s not a thing, Dr. Gildemeister said; their efforts are focused on events and gatherings.
As he told his councilmen he would (see related story), Schoharie Supervisor Alan Tavenner asked about how hearings over possible violations are handled and who hears them.
Typically, the hearings begin informally, Dr. Gildemeister said; if they can’t come to a consensus, they move into the formal phase—where one is now.
Because her office is so short-staffed, Dr. Gildmeister said sometimes County Administrator Steve Wilson conducts the hearings.
Too often, Mr. Tavenner said, the information on numbers and what’s allowed is too difficult to find and keep track of, and he asked Dr. Gildemeister to update the county’s website.
“A COVID for Dummies,” he said.