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Albany County Legislature committees take action on items to help County expand COVID-19 response

Post Date:05/01/2020 8:17 am

The Albany County Legislature’s Health and Audit and Finance committees took action on several mission critical items Thursday to help essential departments expand their response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) health crisis. 

“The Health and Audit & Finance Committee actions tonight are small examples of the County Legislature's focus on supporting the fight against COVID-19. We need these grants to back up the County and community volunteers who have carried the day,” Legislature Chair Andrew Joyce said.

The Health Committee approved a budget amendment for the Albany County Health Department, which received $318,777 in emergency funding to help control the spread of the virus. Approximately $30,000 is from an existing Public Health Emergency Preparedness grant and an additional $288,777 is being provided through new grant funding.

The money can be used to offset costs associated with, but not limited to, hiring additional staff in the Health Department, paying overtime, providing necessary lodging for affected individuals, creating monitoring kits for quarantined individuals, as well as compiling COVID-19 data to comply with CDC guidelines.

“The County Health Department has always been prepared for a health crisis. This pandemic has pushed our County to the limits, but with State support such as these grants and boundless community support, we will beat this,” Health Committee Chair Raymond Joyce said.

Later, members of the Audit and Finance Committee approved a request to allow the Sheriff’s Office to apply for the 2020 Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program Grant through the U.S. Department of Justice, for approximately $58,000. The funding, if awarded, would be used to prevent, prepare for and respond to the virus.

“There is no doubt that the Coronavirus has had an economic impact on Albany County, the amount of which has yet to be determined. I commend Sheriff Apple, Health Commissioner Whalen and all of our essential departments for taking the initiative to apply for funding that will help us respond to this crisis more effectively, while offsetting costs to the County,” Audit and Finance Committee Chair Wanda Willingham said.

To ensure the safety of the public as well as the Legislature, all committee meetings were held remotely. Each meeting was streamed live on the Legislature’s YouTube channel for the public and was recorded for future viewing. In addition, a call-in number was provided before the start of each meeting so members of the public could listen to the discussions.

All items are expected to be voted on by the full Legislature for final approval in May.

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