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State of emergency declared for COVID-19

Sat, Mar 21st 2020 07:00 am

Monday morning, Town of Grand Island Supervisor John Whitney issued a proclamation to address the COVID-19 threat and declared a local state of emergency within the Town of Grand Island.

The proclamation, which took effect immediately and remains in effect for 30 days, unless earlier rescinded, is “addressing the threat that COVID-19 poses to the health, safety, and welfare of its residents and visitors.”

Whitney has declared that “all public hearings currently scheduled before any board or body of the Town of Grand Island are hereby cancelled, to be rescheduled at a date, time, and location to be determined.”

The Planning Board public hearing regarding Project Olive scheduled for March 25 and the Grand Island Town Board’s public hearing regarding Project Olive April 8 at the Grand Island High School have been postponed until further notice.

Whitney also ordered that:

•Public attendance at Town Board meetings is suspended. Any proceedings of the Town Board will be made available via livestream, with a link posted on the Town of Grand Island website.

•Meetings of all advisory boards and the Zoning Board of Appeals are suspended.

The emergency order said “all laws providing for deadlines for action of any board are hereby tolled during the pendency of this state of emergency.”

“The town is asking the public not to come to any town facilities or offices for non-essential reasons,” the proclamation said. “The town is urging all community groups not to hold large public gatherings.”

COVID-19 has been documented in Erie County, with one case in the Town of Grand Island as of Thursday. Both travel-related cases and community contact transmission of COVID-19 have been documented in New York state and more are expected to continue, the proclamation said. The governor has declared a disaster emergency in the state of New York and the county executive has declared a state of emergency for Erie County.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed 1,769 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 4,152 confirmed cases in New York state as of Thursday afternoon. There are 28 in Erie County.

Thursday, Cuomo mandating that 75% of the nonessential workforce must work from home.

The action was taken to further reduce density across the state to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Based on an initial review of each case by the Erie County Department of Health epidemiology team, these individuals appear to have had separate exposures to the novel coronavirus. ECDOH began an intensive investigation to identify the close contacts of these three individuals. Once identified, those close contacts will be notified of their potential exposure to COVID-19 and placed under mandatory quarantine to monitor for symptoms.

As of Thursday, no other Islander had been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Each of these individuals has remained in their respective residences since their arrival back to Erie County. None are hospitalized. Each will continue to recover at home under mandatory isolation, per NYSDOH guidelines.

Poloncarz declared a state of emergency that will remain in effect until rescinded.

Burstein reminded county residents and physicians that ECDOH continues to follow the COVID-19 testing criteria established by the New York State Department of Health. “We are sure to find additional cases as more Erie County residents are tested,” Burstein explained. “Our goal right now is to identify new cases rapidly, and prevent or limit secondary transmission.”

“It is important for you to know, at the time of this letter is being released, I have not been informed by the Erie County Department of Health that the identified individual from Grand Island has any connection with our school system. This would include employees or any of our students,” said Superintendent of Schools Brian Graham in closing Grand Island schools to April 20. “This closure will allow us to receive more information that will guide us in future decision-making as it relates to what is medically best for all members of our school community.”

The Golden Age Center has been closed to the public since March 13, director Jen Menter said. This includes all recreation programs, Golden Age Center lunches, and rentals of the Community Center. The town has been in close contact with Erie County Senior Services and will be providing continuing updates, according to Menter, who added: “Meals on Wheels will continue as normal at this point in time.

“Should anyone need assistance or be in dire need of help during this difficult time, please don’t hesitate to call 773-9682. I am here to help,” she said.

Graham said, “In accordance with the Erie County executive recommendation that people avoid large gatherings of more than 50 people, and in light of the declaration of multiple states of emergency, all Erie County school districts will be closed until April 20. During the week of April 13, we will determine if the length of closure will need to be extended. Our principals, faculty and staff will be working tomorrow to identify appropriate supplemental learning activities for our students to accomplish at home.”

The GICSD Food Service Department “will provide an opportunity for families to pick up meals for children in their family at three school sites,” Graham said. “These sites will have breakfast and lunch items for students in all grades K-12. We are also establishing a delivery service for students/families who are unable to make it to a designated pick-up site. Meals will only be provided on days when students would otherwise have been in school.

“Children do not need to be present in order for their meals to be provided. The student’s identification number must be presented at pick-up time in order to receive a meal.

“Meals will be available for pick-up at each site between the hours of 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.”

Islander among COVID-19 cases ID’d in Erie County

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz, Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein and Commissioner of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Daniel Neaverth Jr. announced March 15 that three individuals in Erie County, including one from Grand Island, were the first to test positive for COVID-19, a disease caused by a novel coronavirus.

The cases were confirmed through testing at the Erie County Public Health Lab March 14 and were the first confirmed cases in Erie County.

The Grand Island individual diagnosed with COVID-19 is a female in her 20s with recent travel to Italy.

Erie County Department of Health

•COVID-19 Information Line: 716-858-2929; Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

•COVID-19 website: http://www.erie.gov/covid19.

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