STATE OF EMERGENCY: Counties post declarations, schools shut down through mid-April

Officials took swift action over the weekend, as emergency declarations were enacted throughout the region.

Simultaneous to many of these emergency declarations, was the announcement that K-12 schools would suspend operation until further notice.

Most districts and officials pointed to the week of April 13th as a timeline for return. However, many officials pointed out that changes could be made to that timetable.

Cayuga, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Tompkins, and Yates counties all made emergency declarations over the weekend, which frees up resources that the counties could need fighting the Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19.

Click here for full-coverage of the Coronavirus, or click the links below for county-by-county statements, as they were made throughout the weekend.

Below are the messages from individual counties:

Ontario County

Ontario County has declared a State of Emergency in response to COVID-19 effective at 12:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 15, 2020.

Public Health Director, Mary Beer, indicates there are no confirmed cases within Ontario County to date, however, this situation is rapidly evolving and the threat of this virus is imminent to the citizens and visitors of Ontario County.

According to Board of Supervisors Chairman, Jack Marren, it is necessary that Ontario County be proactive and fully prepared to deal with its effects.

The declaration does not contain specific orders or prohibitions and directs all departments and agencies of Ontario County to take the steps necessary to protect life and property, public infrastructure and provide such emergency assistance deemed necessary.

Ontario County officials are monitoring the situation and continue to remain in close communication with school districts and the community college to provide guidance and assistance as needed.

This State of Emergency does not in any way impact travel and County operations will continue unchanged unless otherwise advised.

This State of Emergency will remain in effect for thirty days or until rescinded or renewed by a subsequent order.

Schuyler County

Schuyler County has declared a State of Emergency in response to COVID-19 effective immediately.

According to Public Health Director Deborah Minor, “While we have zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 at this time, this action comes out of an abundance of caution in positioning ourselves to protect the health and welfare of our citizenry.”

According to Emergency Services Director William Kennedy, “Although there are no confirmed cases within Schuyler County to date, this situation is rapidly evolving, and the threat of this virus is imminent to the citizens and visitors of Schuyler County. It is necessary that Schuyler County be proactive and fully prepared to deal with its effects. This declaration provides Schuyler County with the flexibility to prepare and respond to this rapidly evolving situation.”

The declaration does not contain specific orders or prohibitions and direct all departments and agencies of Schuyler County to take the steps necessary
to protect life and property, public infrastructure and provide such emergency assistance deemed necessary.

Any and all existing directives from New York State and Federal Officials also remain in full force and effect.

In the interim, Schuyler County officials will continuously monitor the situation and remain in close communication with school districts, towns, villages and other large institutions to provide guidance and assistance as needed.

Seneca County

On Sunday, March 15, 2020 at 10:00 am, the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Mr. Robert W. Hayssen has declared a State of Emergency in Seneca County in response to the Novel Corona Virus COVID -19. Further, Seneca County Officials working in collaboration with all Seneca County school district superintendents have made the decision to suspend classes and extra-curricular activities at all Seneca County schools effective Wednesday, March 18 2020. It is anticipated schools will be closed through Apri1 14, 2020. As a result of Executive Order 202.1, issued by Governor Andrew Cuomo, local school districts are relieved from their 180 day requirement due to the COVID-19outbreak in NYS.

Seneca County Emergency Manager, Melissa Taylor, states “The declaration can be updated at any time, but will remain in effect for the next thirty days”. Mr. Robert Hayssen, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors states, “This decision was made out of concern for the health and safety of Seneca County residents.” He further stated that “We understand the totality of the impact that this decision will have upon families in Seneca County but we must come together and follow the recommendations outlined by public health.”

According to County Manager, C. Mitchell Rowe, “The Seneca County State of Emergency was declared after consultation with the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Seneca County School Superintendents, and the Directors of Public Health and Emergency Management.” Seneca County’s Public Health Director, Vickie Swinehart states, “There are no cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Seneca County and we are taking these measures out of an abundance of caution to protect our most vulnerable populations and to encourage social distancing.” Social distancing is an effective public health strategy used to prevent and slow down the transmission of COVID-19.

“This emergency declaration aligns with the decisions of other counties across the state. We are urging all Seneca County residents to follow the recommendations from the Seneca County Health Department and we will continue to respond to this emergency with a unified response,” stated Seneca County Manager, C. Mitchell Rowe. We are calling on all Seneca County residents to do their part to adhere to the social distancing recommendations, to stay home when sick and to use common sense practices such as good hand hygiene and cough etiquette.

School district officials will be communicating with their school families utilizing their communications plans. Updates on COVID-19 can be found at www.co.seneca.ny.us or at https://health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus

Tompkins County

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve and impact our community, multiple agencies and organizations are working together to provide a unified, coordinated response.

On Friday, March 13th, a State of Emergency was declared by County Administrator Jason Molino. An emergency declaration allows local officials to mobilize quickly and activate all necessary resources to respond to this public health emergency. The County has also opened an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to centralize our response.

“I encourage residents to take precautions, especially those who are more at risk, as they continue daily activities. The EOC gives the County a structure to ensure emergency response and support agencies are working in coordination to meet the needs of our community,” states Jason Molino, County Administrator.

What does the State of Emergency mean in Tompkins County?

Allows officials to obtain and purchase goods and services quickly. Assistance can be provided to municipalities and school districts. County operations will continue unchanged unless otherwise advised. This declaration does not impact travel in Tompkins County. This declaration allows the County to use funding with less restriction.

What is an EOC (Emergency Operations Center)?

A central facility where a team of public health and County officials come together to do the following:

– Monitor information
– Prepare for response
– Exchange information and communicate readily to coordinate the response
– Make decisions quickly
– Ensure continuity of operations

The physical EOC includes:

– One central location
– Necessary technology to assess and respond to a public health or other emergency

Where can the public get information about COVID-19 in Tompkins County?

– Call 211 for information, including questions about food, transportation, events and gatherings, cancellations, and other human service needs
– TCHD will continue to send out public updates
– Check Facebook @TompkinsPublicHealth and Twitter@TompkinsHealth
– Go to the TCHD website for up-to-date information
– Get answers to Frequently Asked Questions on the TCHD website

If you develop symptoms of illness including fever, cough, or trouble breathing, call your healthcare provider before you go to the office. In the event of an emergency, call 911.

Yates County

Yates County has declared a State of Emergency in response to COVID-19 effective at 12:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 15, 2020.
According to Public Health Director Deborah Minor, “While we have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at this time, this action comes out of an abundance of caution in positioning ourselves to protect the health and welfare of our citizenry.”

According to the Chairman of the Legislature, Douglas Paddock, “This virus imminently threatens the citizens of and visitors to Yates County. We are working diligently to help prevent an outbreak in our community.”

County Administrator Winona Flynn states, “While this measure is precautionary, Yates County has formed a task group to continue to assess and prepare for situations that may need to be addressed during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

The State of Emergency does not in any way impact travel and County operations will continue unchanged unless advised otherwise. The declaration does not contain specific orders or prohibitions and directs all departments and agencies of Yates County to take the steps necessary to protect life and property, public infrastructure and provide such emergency assistance deemed necessary.

In the interim, Yates County officials will continuously monitor the situation and remain in close communication with school districts and other large institutions to provide guidance and assistance as needed.
The formal Declaration, as signed by the Chairman of the Legislature, reads as follows:

“A State of Emergency is hereby declared in Yates County effective at 12:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 15, 2020.

“This State of Emergency has been declared due to Coronavirus-19 (COVID-19), which the World Health Organization has designated as a worldwide pandemic.

“This State of Emergency will remain in effect for thirty (30) days or until rescinded or renewed by a subsequent order.

“As the Chief Elected Official of Yates County, I, Douglas Paddock, Chairman of the Legislature exercise the authority given me under Article 2-B, Section 24 of the New York State Executive Law, for the purpose of procuring goods and services, and to render all required and available assistance to municipalities and school districts that is vital to the security, well-being, health and safety of the citizens of Yates County.

“I hereby direct all departments and agencies of Yates County to take whatever steps necessary to protect life and property, public infrastructure, and provide such emergency assistance deemed necessary.”


Download the FingerLakes1.com App: Android (All Android Devices) | iOS (iPhone, iPad)
We believe in a product that is accessible to all readers online. That's why you'll never see a paywall on FingerLakes1.com. That said, a recurring monthly pledge of any amount through Patreon can help us deliver more content, and more in-depth coverage throughout the region. Visit www.Patreon.com/FL1 to become a supporter!
Support Local Journalism