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ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week named Saratoga County Public Health Services and Saratoga Hospital as among the best performing in administering vaccines they were allocated. Both had a 100% rating. It is an important achievement moving forward. 

As of Jan. 18, 13,442 Saratoga County residents had received one dose of COVID vaccine and 1,323 Saratoga County residents had received two doses of COVID vaccine, according to Saratoga County Public Health Services. 

“We will allocate more doses to the faster, better performing facilities. Those that can vaccinate faster will get more of the allocation,” said Cuomo, noting the allocation from the federal government to the state – which then allocates the vaccines across New York is not high enough. 

There are 7.1 million New Yorkers currently eligible for vaccines. At the current rate of allocation, it will take 6 to 7 months for those people to get vaccinated, Cuomo said. “The federal government must increase supply to the states now.” 

The governor said he crafted a letter this week to the chairman of Pfizer, asking if New York can buy vaccine dosages directly from Pfizer.    

Among the percent of hospital workers vaccinated: Glens Falls Hospital leads the region (85.5%), followed by Albany Medical Center (81.1%); Columbia Memorial Hospital (73.4%), and Saratoga Hospital – which has 69.3% of its hospital workers vaccinated. St. Peter’s Hospital - at 65.4%, Ellis Hospital – at 64.6% are among the hospitals with the lowest percentage of its workers vaccinated, Cuomo said. 

The concern is that the lower vaccinated hospital staffs will be the first hospitals to have capacity problems in a surge situation. 

“Again, facilities with slower vaccination rates will get less of new allocation. Our allocation is nowhere near enough. You want to maximize it, so places that can get it out first will get priority.” 

The weekly vaccine allocation by the federal government to New York State (numbers rounded up):

Dec. 14-20: 170,000.
Dec. 21-27: 467,000.
Dec. 28- Jan. 3: 274,000.
Jan. 4 – 10: 240,000.
Jan. 11 – 17: 240,000. 

Published in News

ALBANY — On Sunday, approximately 50,000 tests were conducted statewide regarding COVID-19 infections, with less than 1,000 people testing positive for the virus, and 54 reported deaths. 

"That is the lowest number we’ve had since this began," state Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday. "The progress is just phenomenal."

Saratoga, Albany, Glens Falls and the surrounding communities are currently in "Phase One" of the reopening process, and an evaluation of infection rates is underway with the possibility of the region on Wednesday going to "Phase Two." 

"The Capital District region is moving to go into Phase 2 on Wednesday. All the numbers look good there. We’re going to run them by our local team to make sure they are as good as we think they are, but at this point the Capital Region is on track to go into Phase 2 on Wednesday," Cuomo said.

Phase 2 reopening includes hair salons and barber shops, in-store retail, real estate, offices and others. Distancing, mask guidelines and crowd limits remain in place. For details go HERE.

"What we have done with this COVID virus is really an amazing accomplishment, and it was all done by the people of this state. They did it, 19 million people did what they never did before. They responded with a level of determination and discipline that I was amazed with frankly," Cuomo said Monday. "Remember where we were: we had 800 people die in one day. We had the worst situation in the United States of America. At one point we had the worst situation on the globe. And now we're reopening in less than 50 days. We went from an internationally terrible situation to where we’re talking about reopening today."

The Saratoga County Department of Public Health Services today confirmed the death of one more county resident from COVID-19 — a 69-year-old male from Halfmoon. Updated statistics:

• Confirmed cases of COVID-19: 481
• Deaths: 16
• Recovered cases: 418
• Active cases: 48
• Hospitalizations: 6
• Total tested: 11,577

As part of the Governor’s initiative for antibody sampling of essential workers, food delivery and restaurant workers will be offered the opportunity to receive free COVID-19 antibody testing conducted by the New York State Department of Health. The testing process takes approximately 15 minutes. No appointment is necessary.

Site hours: testing takes place 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. June 1 through Thursday, June 4 at  SUNY Albany - SEFCU Arena (please enter via Western Avenue) - 1400 Washington Ave. 

Published in News

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced that portions of the state may be able to reopen on May 15 when the New York on PAUSE order expires. 

The potential reopenings will occur in phases by "regions," and only if regions meet a series of benchmarks. 

The measures that need to be in place refer to the monitoring capabilities of new infections,  securing there is adequate capacity in the health care system to deal with potential new illnesses and hospitalizations, increased diagnostic testing, and having contact tracing in place to lessen the spread of the disease.      

Saratoga County is incoporated into the Capital Region - an eight-county area also consisting of Warren, Washington, Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Columbia, and Greene counties.

The criteria to reopen is comprised of seven headings. The Capital Region currently meets five of those. Those five include: a 14-day decrease in hospital deaths or fewer than five deaths over a three-day average; less than 2 per 100,000 new hospitalizations over a three-day rolling average; having ample hospital beds available – 41 % of total beds and 44 % of ICU beds where a minimum of 30% is required for each, and exceeding the metric requirements for the number of contact tracers needed.

The regional shortcomings, as depicted in a slide presentation by the governor on Monday, are in two categories. Those are: showing a 14-day decline in hospitalizations or under 15 new hospitalizations, and having a minimum of 30 per 1,000 residents tested monthly. Both the categories are taken as a three-day average.

Using Saratoga County specifically as a reference point, the number of hospitalizations has remained below the 15 person threshold since mid-April, although the county falls short in the testing criteria -  which would require approximately 700 Saratoga County residents be tested every three days. Recently the average number of residents being tested has been just under 500.

Still, it is important to note that Saratoga comprises just one of the eight counties in the Capital "Region" directive. Numbers from all counties must be collected an analyed, and the governor said Monday that regions believing they can start to reopen May 15 must first conduct their own analysis and ensure they meet the approriate criteria. "These are the facts they have to have in place to do it," Cuomo said. "Start now with the analysis; don’t wait until May 15."   

The  reopening would happen in stages.

Phase 1:  Construction, Manufacturing and wholesale supply chain, Select Retail - curbside pickup. 
Phase 2: Professional services, Finance and Insurance, Retail, Administrative Support, Real Estate/ Rental Leasing.
Phase 3: Restaurants/ Food Services, Hotels/Accomodations.
Phase 4: Arts/ Entertainment/ Recreation, Education. 

The regional approach would require input from, and the coordination of a variety of people - elected officials and hospital officials, among them. Details regarding the formation of a regional group, or the composition of its members is not immediately known.     

Published in News

Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include: Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones; Changes in sleep or eating patterns; Difficulty sleeping or concentrating; Worsening of chronic health problems; Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs. 

Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.

Things you can do to support yourself: 

Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.

“As we all take measures to protect our physical health, we also need to protect our emotional health,” writes psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb, whose article “Dear Therapist’s Guide to Staying Sane During a Pandemic,” was recently published in The Atlantic. “Everyone copes with horrible situations differently. For some, humor is a balm. It’s BOTH/AND: It’s horrible AND we can allow our souls to breathe.” The article may be read online at: theatlantic.com. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued the following statement as part of a COVID-19 Announcement on March 21: Mental health is a vital part of public health. To that end, I am calling on psychologists, therapists and other mental health professionals to pitch in and volunteer their services to help with New York’s Coronavirus response. To sign up, go to: health.ny.gov/assistance. 

Published in News

Photos provided.

SARATOGA COUNTY — Larry Sharpe, a Queens native, was thinking about moving to North Carolina due to his disappointment in the state of being New York is in. However, he decided to run for New York State Governor instead, believing that real change starts at home. A Libertarian and United States Marine, Sharpe has lived his whole life as a New Yorker.

“I am a kid born in Manhattan. I was adopted. My adoptive parents took me to the Bronx. My mother was a German immigrant, my father was in the Army, met her over there and got married, came over here. I was raised in the Bronx, around East Stadium, until I was 11. Then we moved out to Long Island, Suffolk County,” Sharpe explained.

After entering the United States Marine Corp at age 17, he barely graduated high school, only doing so because his recruiter had guaranteed him a job.

“That was a lie,” he laughed, “but that’s what he told me, and I went anyway.”

He attended college as a fulltime Marine, earning a 3.7 GPA majoring in Anthropology.

“Because then it mattered to me, I wanted to be a good student,” he said.

Sharpe graduated and went on to be a successful business owner. He is currently a consultant, trainer, and teacher that helps other businesses to grow. He has also taught at the graduate level at Yale and Columbia as a guest instructor and as a CAPS instructor for Baruch College.

“We have to change the education system fundamentally in New York State. It is broken, it is an embarrassment. It’s about $60 billion, only $22,000 per student and we’re having, at best, mediocre results,” Sharpe said passionately.

He is advocating for fundamental change by implementing the following: No more standardized testing until you’re in high school.

“Standardized testing is bad for several reasons: it gets teachers to teach to a test and not to an individual student; it is a way of people punishing teachers instead of rewarding them; it’s a way to fund schools, which is completely incorrect and wrong; and worse, it actually makes kids who are bad test takers feel stupid. Now they are labeled the dumb kid. That’s a bad thing,” Sharpe explained.

K-12 is anachronism that shouldn’t exist.

“We should be kindergarten through tenth. At tenth grade, take a test, whether you’re at private school, public school, homeschooled. We should be supporting homeschooling far more than we support it. It’s embarrassing how bad we are. If you have the time, the energy, and resources to teach your kid at home, please do so. I want to encourage you and lower your tax burden. I want to still allow you to have access to all of the things you’re paying taxes for already... You pass your test at tenth grade, you get a high school diploma from that district. You’re finished at that point,” he said.

He has a plan of “four choices” for what to do next: College, trade school, get a job, start a business. How does he plan to pay for this?

“Very simple actually. The New York State Constitution says we must pay for the last two years of school. Right now, we’re paying 22k a year per kid. Here’s what I’m going to do, when I was in the Marine Corp, when I got out, I got the GI Bill. You get ten years to use x amount of dollars, use it, go to college. Every kid at 16, gets the equivalent of the GI Bill. They get the Student Career Bill. Ten years, $20,000, do what you want. I promise you, prep schools are going to pop up all over the place, that are good at what they do because now the kids are choosing. Trade schools will pop up all over the place, too,” he stated.

Funding. Flat block grants per number of students.

“You have x number of students, multiply that by y, there’s your money from the state. I would like for the money to come only from the state, not from the counties. I prefer no school tax at all. You cut school tax, how much money are we saving? A lot,” Sharpe explained.

“Here’s what I know, freedom plus accountability plus transparency equals innovation. What’s going to work in Buffalo isn’t going to work in Rochester or Watertown, and I’m okay with that. I want happy kids. I want satisfied parents. we do that, we win,” he said simply.

Gubernatorial primaries will be held on September 13, 2018.

“Let teachers teach,” Sharpe said.

Published in Education
Friday, 28 October 2016 16:37

Region Mourns Fallen Trooper

WILTON — The tragic loss of New York State Trooper Timothy Pratt, 55, on Wednesday, October 26, as a result of a traffic accident on Ballard Road in Wilton, has left a gaping hole in the hearts of the Capital Region. The shock and grief extended statewide as well as close to home. Governor Andrew Cuomo remembered Trooper Pratt leading last month’s 9/11 motorcade memorial, and he ordered all flags to half staff.

Wilton Town Board Councilman John Lant, a former fire chief, said he couldn’t believe it when he received the phone call with the news.

“I worked with him on many accidents and fires,” said Lant, his voice filled with emotion. “He was a good guy, an outstanding state trooper. I thought the world of that guy. Unbelievable. He’s a great loss.”

Art Johnson, Wilton Town Supervisor, said, “All the troopers in the town provide such a wonderful service and we appreciate all of them. Our thoughts and prayers go with the family.”

New York State Police Troop G Commander Major William Keeler described the incident at a press conference Wednesday, saying, “By all accounts, at 6:30 this morning, it was dark, and Trooper Pratt, beginning his patrol, observed a tractor trailer stopped in the median on Ballard Road just in front of the state police barracks in Wilton, and Trooper Pratt, being Trooper Pratt, immediately went to see if he could be of any assistance. He interviewed the driver and the driver told him that he had missed a turn at the Ace Hardware store, and Trooper Pratt was going to assist in getting the vehicle turned around. Trooper Pratt stepped down from the vehicle, stepped away from the vehicle, into the east bound lane and was struck.”

State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II added, “He was a 30-year trooper who still had the fire in him. He enjoyed doing the job, and died the way he lived, helping people.”

Trooper Pratt was initially treated at Saratoga Hospital, and was airlifted to Albany Medical Center where he died at approximately 9:30 a.m. Trooper Mark Cepiel, public information officer for Troop G, confirmed charges were unlikely, but the investigation is not closed. He said a collision reconstruction unit with investigators trained beyond normal investigation techniques will continue looking at the evidence.

The fact that one simple act, done a thousand times over a career, could be the last one, is a danger faced every day by traffic duty and highway patrol law enforcement.

Beach said at the press conference that Trooper Pratt had more than 25 years of experience working the highway unit on the Northway. “It’s probably some of the most dangerous work that our troopers do,” said Beach. “It’s almost inconceivable to us that Tim could spend that much time working in such a dangerous situation and have a tragedy like this happen. It’s difficult to process.” Beach went on to confirm that most of the on-duty deaths in last 10 years have been traffic accidents.

“I’d like to thank the EMS responders and people who rendered aid to Tim, and the staffs at the hospitals in both Saratoga and Albany who did everything they could,” said Beach.

Beach also confirmed that Trooper Pratt’s family would become members of the greater New York State family. “Never alone,” said Beach before he left the podium Wednesday.

Trooper Pratt joined the New York State Police on March 30, 1987, after serving in the U.S. Air Force from 1979 to 1986. Trooper Pratt was assigned to the Traffic Incident Management unit at the State Police station in Wilton. He served his entire career with the State Police in Troop G.

The Honorable David Towne, Wilton Town Justice, had served in law enforcement over 30 years and knew Trooper Pratt well.

“He was a great guy, a credit to law enforcement,” said Towne. He said people who were ticketed by Pratt often went out of their way to write about the positive interaction they had with him in the space for comments on the back of traffic citations.

“It’s shocking when you know someone fairly well,” said Towne. “Law enforcement is a unique brotherhood. I know they are going through tough times right now and doing what they can for each other to make it through. He perished doing what he was made to do, lending a hand.”

The Honorable Gerald A. Worth, Wilton Town Justice, said it’s difficult for them in the court, too. “We dealt with him for so long, and he was always in a good mood, laughing, joking around. There’s going to be thousands of people wanting to pay their respects.”

Trooper Cepiel said Trooper Pratt was involved heavily in the community, especially at South Glens Falls High School.

“He worked the dance they have there every year, except for those years he was in the military,” said Cepiel. “It is great way to remember him for things like that he did. It’ll be tough for the community because he was integrated so much. People can take solace in the fact that this is what he loved to do.”

Lant remembered being at a banquet at the fire department, sitting with his wife and mother, when Trooper Pratt walked up to him and said, “Okay, you’re going with me.”

“Then he took his handcuffs out. You should have seen my mother’s eyes,” Lant laughed. “I had tears running down. First time I ever met him, he put out a fire and I told him that was our job, not his, and I’d start giving out speeding ticket. That’s how we became friends.”

Lant was quiet a moment, and then said, his voice choking, “An outstanding trooper. An outstanding friend. It’s everybody’s loss. The people of the State – everyone.”

On Wednesday evening, October 26, the trooper’s body was transported by hearse from Albany Medical Center to M.B. Kilmer Funeral Home in South Glens Falls. About a hundred police cars followed in the procession, which passed beneath an American flag hanging between two fire truck ladders. A crowd had gathered as the procession turned into the funeral home, and police and fire personnel stood in the street, honoring their fallen comrade.

Details of the line-of-duty funeral arrangements were not available by print time, but the office of the Village of South Glens Falls confirmed a candle light vigil will be held on Sunday, October 30, at the gazebo in Cooper’s Cave Park in the village. Speakers and bagpipes are planned to honor Trooper Pratt, and although there will be some candles; it is recommended people bring their own.

South Glens Falls Mayor Joe Orlow said the fire department did a great job Wednesday night, honoring the fallen trooper during transport, and added, “We are a caring community, and I hope to see everyone come out Sunday night to pay their respects for this gentleman who gave so much to the community.”

Published in News


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