BETHLEHEM — While there are no confirmed novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Bethlehem as of Friday, March 13, the town is working to stay vigilant as the outbreak has reached other parts of the Capital District.
Town Supervisor David VanLuven wrote, “We are preparing detailed plans for delivering essential services should the state government shut down, and in turn, the town government have to be shut down. We hope this will not come to pass, but we must be prepared for the worst.”
He added that town facilities are being disinfected daily and it is important to recognize town employees who are still providing services to residents at this time. These include police, clean water delivery, sewage removal and management, and giving isolated senior residents attention.
The Bethlehem Central School District announced on Friday, March 13 that classes, Capital Region BOCES CTE, Special Education programs, events, activities and athletics are canceled from Monday, March 16 to Friday, March 20. However, there are no confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The school district will hold its Superintendent’s Conference Day instead that Monday to “provide faculty and staff time and preparation for alternative learning opportunities for students should a school closure become necessary,” according to the district’s website. For more information, visit www.bethlehemschools.org/coronavirus-covid-19-updates.
The Bethlehem Public Library also announced on Friday, March 13 that it will close its doors until further notice. It noted that its online resources are still available though and for more information, visit www.bethlehempubliclibrary.org.
The town’s Senior Services Department has canceled many programs because the elderly and anyone with underlying health conditions have been recognized as among the more vulnerable populations to COVID-19.
Such canceled programs include all health and wellness programs, the Schenectady County Community College Dinner, CANstruction, Krause’s Homemade Candies, weekly Thursday Senior Citizens Club and Game Day, all discussion groups and congregate meal programs.
There will be limited transportation for seniors but while it would not transport group groceries, the department “will evaluate the need for anyone without other resources to obtain food,” according to the town’s website. Any critical medical transportation will also be evaluated in terms of importance. For more information, call the department at 518-439-4955 ext. 1176.
The town’s Parks and Recreation Department has also canceled all winter and spring programs, events and trips. For more information regarding pro-rated credits or possible refunds, email at [email protected] or call 518-439-4955 ext. 2131.
Concerns regarding COVID-19 have grown considerably in the past week as Albany County Executive Dan McCoy announced on Friday, March 13 that there are now four COVID-19 cases in the county. This marks two new cases beyond the initial two — a Guilderland woman in her 30s and a male University at Albany student in his 20s living off-campus in the city of Albany — that were reported on Thursday, March 12.
McCoy said that the two new cases were directly related to one of the first two cases, but did not specify who, which or how. They are now under quarantine.
“This is an evolving situation and I will continue to say that the numbers of positive cases will go up as more people are tested. I urge you to remain calm,” said McCoy. “The plans are in place to test and monitor individuals for this virus. I continue to advise everyone to stay home if you’re sick; wash your hands frequently; don’t touch your face and cough and sneeze by covering your mouth, preferably with a tissue and then throwing it out.”
Following guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control, state Department of Health and Albany County Department of Health, VanLuven advised residents to continue washing their hands, stay at home if feeling unwell, practice good coughing and sneezing etiquette and look out for the town’s more vulnerable residents, including seniors.
VanLuven concluded, “The COVID-19 outbreak in New York is serious. We in town government are taking it seriously. We, as individuals, need to take it seriously as well, and each do our part to limit its spread and help our neighbors.”
For more information, visit the town’s designated COVID-19 information page at www.townofbethlehem.org/873/COVID-19, CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html, state Department of Health’s website at www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus or county Department of Health’s website at www.albanycounty.com/departments/health/2019-novel-coronavirus.