ALBANY — Everyone knows what they are supposed to do to stop the spread of COVID-19, but enforcement of those not wearing masks and/or gathering in large groups remains an issue.
Sheriff Craig Apple on Monday said his office has fielded 575 complaints, some real and some frivolous and some which may have been real but by the time deputies got to the site the situation had already changed.
Most of the complaints, he said, are related to restaurants and bars with others coming from convenience and big box stores. So far, his office has issued six cease and desist orders and they are only issued if deputies have to return to the scene after issuing a warning. No criminal charges have been filed for not following the state mandates, he said.
Some 200 complaints are from the Town of Colonie while another 150 from the City of Albany. He said his office is getting between 10 and 15 complaints a day from across the county.
“A lot of the complaints started out as frivolous but you have to remember some of these complaints are the best use of resources. You have to remember we have a spike in crime too,” he said. “We are going to step up our visits to these establishments. We have officers assigned to the City of Albany but we will shift more resources to these calls. There is only so much we can do, you have to have some personal accountability.
“If everyone just wore the damn mask for two weeks and don’t go into states that are on the list or if you do to quarantine for two weeks we will get through this.”
Apple said there are a number of stores who called his office complaining about the customers. Most of the stores, and by extension the employees, are following the rules and have Personal Protection Equipment on hand but it’s not always the case with the customers.
“The store’s policies are right. They have signage in place, they have the proper PPE. They are having problems with the customers,” he said. “Some people don’t believe in it, some people will come in and fight about it. They [employees] have had expletives thrown at them, masks thrown back at them. It really is about personal accountability.”
As of Monday, there were 2,229 positive cases in in Albany County, up seven from Sunday, with 900 under quarantine. There are 87 active cases in the county. There are four people in the hospital for a rate of .17 percent.
Of the new cases, there is one health care worker, one who travelled out of state, one had close contact with an infected person and Health Department personnel are still tracing four others.
So far there are 39 people tied to a large Fourth of July party on Hudson Avenue in Albany.
“It shows what can happen when you meet in a large group and don’t do the right things like wearing a mask, staying six feet apart and coughing into your arm,” McCoy said. “The more you do this kind of thing, and don’t do the right thing it will set us back, and the last thing we want to do is get set back.”
As for enforcement, McCoy recommends saying something — like to person not wearing a mask — but if it escalates walk way.
“We don’t want you to get into arguments with people. There are some people who just won’t wear a mask. It’s OK to say, hey put your mask on but I they give you attitude just walk away,” he said.
Anyone with a complaint can call 1-833-789-0470.