Mayor declares state of emergency

Mayor Kamal Johnson declares a local state of emergency due to the spread of COVID-19 on Monday, March 16. Abby Hoover\Columbia-Greene Media

HUDSON — In a move that seemed inevitable, Mayor Kamal Johnson on Monday declared a state of emergency for the city of Hudson.

“This state of emergency has been declared due to emergency conditions produced by the uncontrolled contagion of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19, and the need to limit the spread of the disease to the people of Hudson, particularly vulnerable populations such as the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and those with underlying health issues that predispose them to respiratory infections,” Johnson said at a press conference Monday.

As of the 1 p.m. press conference, there were no confirmed cases in Columbia County. The state of emergency will remain in effect for 30 days, unless Johnson rescinds it.

“Due to both nationwide and local limitations on medical supplies and the limited availability of life-saving medical equipment, such as respirators, that could help save the lives of those in vulnerable populations, it is important to slow the contagion rate to the greatest extent possible,” Johnson said.

“Slowing this rate will better enable health care providers and first responders to manage the health care needs of the population caused by this pandemic, as defined by the World Health Organization; prevent mass public contagion; and ensure that city staff remain healthy and able to safely manage the business of the city, particularly staff who provide essential services to the residents of Hudson.”

The state of emergency restricts all city employee travel, including all conferences and workshops. All non-essential city meetings will be postponed, including meetings of all public boards and commissions.

Johnson said the departments of fire, youth, police, code enforcement, public works, treasury, water, and city clerk-related business will take whatever steps necessary to protect life and property, public infrastructure and other such emergency assistance as deemed necessary.

Public use of city administrative buildings will be limited. The departments will operate business as usual, but Johnson said all business with the public that can be conducted online or over the phone should be.

By executive order, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has suspended the Open Meetings Law. The Common Council meeting scheduled for March 17, will be held, but the public will not be permitted to attend.

Johnson said the meeting will be live-streamed, and instructions to view it can be found at cityofhudson.org. A transcript will be made available on the website, as well. Council members may attend via electronic means, Common Council President Thomas DePietro or his designee must attend in person.

“No large public gatherings may be held as per the governor’s order, as such conditions threaten the public safety of the citizens of Hudson,” Johnson said. “This requirement also applies to houses of worship.”

Johnson said the Youth Center and Senior Center will suspend programming. The Youth Center will assist Hudson City School District in providing meals for students. They are still working out details.

Johnson said he encourages everyone to follow state regulations and recommendations concerning restaurants, gyms and public spaces.

“As a city, we’ll get through this,” said Johnson, who is in his third month as mayor. “This is something that a lot of us have seen for the first time in our lives. I’m confident in our city and our people.”

A sign posted on the entrance of City Hall, 520 Warren St., advised citizens not to visit if they have a fever, shortness of breath, cough, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea.

Abby Hoover is a reporter for Columbia-Greene Media. Contact her at (518) 828-1616 x2500 or ahoover@registerstar.com.

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