Schoharie County’s COVID efforts got pushback from some supervisors Friday.
“We’re just scaring people”, Seward Supervisor Earlin Rose said, with Peggy Hait of Jefferson upset over what she sees as an over-reaching mask ordinance under discussion in the City of Oneonta—where 700 confirmed cases of COVID have been linked to SUCO students.
Others quietly referred to efforts as “COVID Nazis.”
“I’m concerned we’re making this more of an issue than it is,” Mr. Rosa said, after quizzing Director of Public Health Amy Gildemeister on COVID’s impact on otherwise healthy people.
”It scares more people than is good,” he said, with the implication that those who are active and physically fit have nothing to fear.
“I strongly disagree,” Dr. Gildemeister countered.
Schoharie County has had 86 positive COVID cases and one death.
That’s an indication of what a good job we’re doing with masks and six feet, Supervisors’ Chairman Bill Federice said Saturday.
And though he understands the frustration, Mr. Federice said it’s also clear how quickly those numbers could change: 177 cases and seven deaths can be traced directly to a wedding in Maine.
“I get it. We’re all COVID-fatigued,” he said. “Everyone of us. Including me. And the skepticism is understandable.
“But we need to keep doing what we’re doing and working together to get through this.”
Oneonta’s mask ordinance would mirror the state’s and is aimed at SUCO students, who are expected back for the spring semester.
Ms. Hait expressed concern that Oneonta’s law could require “everyone outdoors to wear a face mask, including on [our] own property.”
Though unfamiliar with its specifics, Dr. Gildemeister said her guess would be the law would be a way to enforce masks at events like college parties.
Responding to Mr. Rosa, Dr. Gildemeister ran through a long list of some of the long-term health consequences affecting those who’ve had COVID, including fatigue, headaches, shortness of breath, and night sweats.
She disputed Mr. Rosa’s belief that it doesn’t impact those who are otherwise healthy, reminding him they’re also likely spreading it to others who are more susceptible.
And masks and social distancing are simple, readily available tools that can very quickly reduce COVID’s spread by 60 percent, she said.
“If we all just did these simple things…”