Guilderland- Spearheaded by Supervisor Peter Barber, the town of Guilderland has published more than 600 daily updates with information about COVID-19 and the pandemic.
“I never would have thought we’d still be doing this at this point,” said Barber in late October about the updates that started March 10, 2020. “When we started, I would have thought it’d be under control by now.”
These updates posted on the town website are usually about one-page long and include information from New York State, Albany County, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the town’s own emergency services.
“It’s a team effort,” said Barber, who has been town supervisor since 2015. “These updates are thanks to the assistance I get at home and from people like my assistant, Jessica Montgomery. Without her, I couldn’t be doing this.”
How It Started
The impetus for the updates was an early morning phone call from the chief of police, notifying Barber that positive cases were reported in the town and there would be a press conference downtown. That was March 9, 2020. It was the next day that the updates started, remembered Barber.
In the beginning, the town would get about 100 inquiries per week from residents about COVID. Now that number is closer to about 15 inquires per week.
Barber’s two children are both journalists and the town supervisor points out that keeping the public informed is very important to him, along with providing reputable sources for information.
During the beginnings of the pandemic, Barber’s daughter, a writer with The New Yorker, lived temporarily in Guilderland and even wrote about the experience.
How It’s Going
With few exceptions, feedback regarding the updates has been positive. The updates have a reach of about 10,000 people, daily with the update and link shared on social media and via email. Barber’s assistant, he said, is the one who sends out the updates.
Barber says he tries to share relatable stories in these daily updates; like how his family, with much more time on their hands at home, discovered they had three waffle makers for some reason.
These updates are written mainly for Barber’s fellow Guilderland town residents but the town has received comments about the COVID updates from as far away as Europe and Asia. One 7th Grade class in Kansas read the updates regularly and would check for any grammar mistakes then give Barber a grade for his grammar.
“I hope Guilderland residents are more informed thanks to these updates,” said Barber, who encourages the readers to check out the sources usually cited in the updates.
Before the Delta variant, Barber said he planned to stop doing the updates.
At this point, he said he’s discussed doing the updates less regularly, like possibly weekly or as-needed.
“The daily updates will continue for as long as we get information from the state and county,” he continued. “Having a governor and county executive give updates has helped to do this at the local level. I really do think it’s an obligation of towns to keep residents as informed as possible.”
Want to read these updates on a regular basis? You can subscribe at the town of Guilderland website.