• Saratoga Business Report
Wednesday, 11 August 2021 17:22

SHARP Task Force Takes Aim at Delta Variant of COVID-19, Board of Supervisors to Provide Testing Services for Schools Featured

Written by Pete Bardunias, Senior Vice President, Community Advancement, Capital Region Chamber
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Saratoga County Supervisor Chair Todd Kusnierz, of the Town of Moreau, addressing the press conference. Saratoga County Supervisor Chair Todd Kusnierz, of the Town of Moreau, addressing the press conference.

Saratoga County Board of Supervisors Chairman Todd Kusnierz recently announced the formation of the Saratoga Health and Readiness Planning (SHARP) Task Force in anticipation of continued changes to COVID guidelines from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The SHARP Task Force has begun meeting and is reviewing guidance issued by other governmental entities, reviewing relevant local data, and providing recommendations and guidance to the Saratoga County community. 

“The recent increase in infections rates in Saratoga County is concerning, and with the formation of the SHARP Task Force, our county leadership will be able to quickly analyze any new guidance issued by New York State Department of Health and the CDC and make recommendations that make sense for our community,” said Chairman Kusnierz.

Clifton Park County Supervisor Jonathan Schopf, a member of the SHARP Task Force, said, “Saratoga County takes the health and well-being of its residents and employees seriously. At the same time the right of individual thought, decision making, and ultimate choice cannot be overcome by government mandate. As we move through the next several months, we are focused on keeping our schools and businesses open and continuing to offer the vaccine at no cost to residents throughout the county while providing information and statistics to allow our residents and businesses to make the best decisions for their own circumstances.

Not only will the SHARP Task Force provide guidance to the community, but is committed to listening to concerns of residents, schools, businesses, and non-profits and advocating on their behalf to the state and federal government. 

“Our communities are still feeling the effects of the previous shutdown and it isn’t in the best interest of the County to return to that state,” said Supervisor Schopf. “With our high vaccine rate, we must be strategic and thoughtful in our approach when recommending any new public safety guidance to our communities, schools, businesses and non-profits. We believe in individual responsibility, and we want to keep Saratoga County open for business and continue to be a safe and friendly place to live and visit. Saratoga County will continue to provide support to individuals, schools, businesses and non-profit institutions to help those affected who may need assistance moving forward into the prosperous future that surely awaits our County and nation.”

SHARP Task Force members include: Chairman Todd Kusnierz; Clifton Park Supervisor Jonathan Schopf, Vice Chairman of the Board; Malta Town Supervisor Darren O’Connor, Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee; County Administrator Steve Bulger; Dr. Dan Kuhles, Commissioner of the Saratoga County Department of Public Health Services; Scot Chamberlain, Saratoga County Director of Human Resources; Pete Bardunias, Senior Vice President of Community Advancement with the Capital Region Chamber; and Anita Murphy, Capital Region BOCES District Superintendent.

Additionally, the county has returned to the practice of providing daily updates on COVID numbers to the public and holding press conferences as necessary if there are substantial changes in guidance, policy, or increased infection rates.   One such press conference was held today (August 11, 2021) at the County Office Building, to discuss efforts to help the School Districts deal with implications of the ongoing Pandemic in the context of the school year, and without directives from Albany.

School districts are feeling the impacts of the increased concerns about the spread of the virus.  To address this, the county is entering into a $3.5 million-dollar contract with Quadrant to make available patient-friendly, non-invasive saliva swab COVID tests in schools.   Saratoga County Public Health Services will hire staff who will facilitate the testing at participating schools within Saratoga County.  The county is also purchasing tests under a separate contract with Quadrant to provide services to county employees who feel ill or those who came into close contact with a positive case. 

Testing for county employees is not mandatory. Should an employee feel unwell, they can receive convenient, confidential testing from Public Health Services, if they wish.   The Board of Supervisors is expected to approve the contract during its August 17 board meeting.

Some Q&A regarding the SHARP Task Force:

Q. What is the SHARP Task Force?

The SHARP Task Force is a group of local leaders and experts who will review guidance issued by other governmental entities, review relevant local data, and provide recommendations and guidance to the Saratoga County community. It also committed to listening to concerns of residents, schools, businesses, and non-profits and advocating on their behalf to the state and federal government.

Q. What is the status of the SHARP Task Force?

A. The SHARP Task Force has met and has detailed its priorities moving forward.  The task force is committed to helping our area school districts to safely bring back all their students to the classroom. The task force is also committed to ensuring our business community continues to thrive in its recovery from the state-mandated economic shutdown related to the pandemic. 

Schools: Absent of state leadership, our SHARP Task Force quickly rose to the occasion and is working with area school districts to ensure the children of Saratoga County can all safely attend in-person school this fall.

Testing: As part of the county’s efforts to help schools, we are entering into a $3.5 million-dollar contract with Quadrant to make available patient-friendly, non-invasive saliva swab COVID tests in schools. 

Business Community: The SHARP Task Force is also focused on helping our business community to ensure they are able to safely remain open and our economy stays strong.  Currently all indicators point to a successful summer for our business community and we hope to continue that trend.

Q. Who is on the SHARP Task Force?

A. SHARP Task Force members include: Chairman Todd Kusnierz; Clifton Park Supervisor Jonathan Schopf, Vice Chairman of the Board; Malta Town Supervisor Darren O’Connor, Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee; County Administrator Steve Bulger; Dr. Dan Kuhles, Commissioner of the Saratoga County Department of Public Health Services; Scot Chamberlain, Saratoga County Director of Human Resources; Pete Bardunias, Senior Vice President, Community Advancement with the Capital Region Chamber; and Anita Murphy, Capital Region BOCES District Superintendent.

Q. What is the county doing to prepare for/in the wake of the current uptick in COVID-19 cases/Delta Variant?

A. While the rise in infections is concerning, it’s important to recognize that, in Saratoga County, not only do the rates of hospitalization remain low, but we also have one of the highest vaccination rates in Upstate New York. We are focused on encouraging more vaccinations; helping our school districts prepare for safe in-person learning this fall; ensuring our public health staff has the tools and support they need to be ready not only for a possible third round of vaccinations for the community but also for when the vaccines are approved for our youngest community members. 

Vaccinations: Saratoga County Public Health continues to offer free vaccines each week throughout the county and urge all those who are eligible to be vaccinated to do so. The vaccine clinic schedule is available on the county website. We also offer in-home vaccinations for homebound individuals. 

Saratoga County, like other counties in the capital region, continues to experience a high level of COVID-19 community transmission, fueled by the spread of the highly contagious B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant.  Vaccination remains the most effective strategy against COVID-19.  

To date, more than 70% of the population has at least one vaccine dose his level of vaccine coverage has prevented a surge in severe COVID-19 disease and hospitalizations in our community. Those who are unvaccinated remain at the highest risk of infection, severe illness, and hospitalization, therefore we remind our community that Saratoga County Public Health Services regularly provides vaccination opportunities, which are listed on the Department’s website. We urge those who are eligible to get vaccinated.

Q. What are the Most Recent COVID Stats?

As of the end of the day, August 9, 2021 the Saratoga County Dashboard shows:

Saratoga County Overview

Positive Tests in the Last 7 Days

290

7 Day Rolling Average % Positivity

4.6%

CDC Community Transmission Level

High

Cumulative Cases

16,100

Cumulative Deaths

170

Currently Hospitalized

11

Active Cases

311

Recovered Cases

15,619

Saratoga County Detail

% Population with at least 1 Vaccine Dose

70.3%

% Population with Completed Vaccine Series

66.0%

% Population ≥12 with at least 1 Vaccine Dose

80.5%

% Population ≥18 with at least 1 Vaccine Dose

81.6%

Breakthrough Cases to Date

340 (2.1%)

Breakthrough Cases in the Past 7 Days

121(41.7%)

% Breakthrough in Fully Vaccinated Population

0.22%

% Breakthrough Hospitalized in Fully Vaccinated Population

0.008%

Active Cases: Fully Vaccinated

137

Active Cases: Not Fully Vaccinated

174

Recovered Cases: Fully Vaccinated

203

Recovered Cases: Not Fully Vaccinated

15,416

Currently Hospitalized: Fully Vaccinated

1

Currently Hospitalized: Not Fully Vaccinated

10

Deaths: Fully Vaccinated

2

Deaths: Not Fully Vaccinated

168

 

Written by Pete Bardunias, Senior Vice President, Community Advancement, Capital Region Chamber

       

Read 195 times Last modified on Thursday, 12 August 2021 12:57

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