Although COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Ulster County, the Town of Plattekill Board decided at its Sept. 1 meeting not to reinstitute a policy that required employees and visitors to wear masks inside Town Hall.
Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan signed an executive order last week requiring all 1,300 county employees and members of the public to wear masks inside all county buildings regardless of vaccination status.
Additionally, based on the current CDC recommendations and a rise in positive cases brought on by the COVID-19 Delta variant, Ulster County Commissioner of Health Dr. Carol Smith issued updated guidance that strongly recommends all members of the public wear masks indoors to slow the spread of the disease throughout Ulster County regardless of vaccination status.
At the time of Ryan’s announcement, he said Ulster County had 576 active cases of COVID-19. The county’s positivity rate was 5.4 percent heading into September.
Supervisor Joseph Croce read Ryan’s directive at the board meeting and then noted that several towns including the Town of Wawarsing decided to require masks inside their facilities again after learning of the County Executive’s decision.
Croce began the discussion about the mask policy by pointing out that town employees had enough space in their offices to be at least six feet away from one another. He said employees only wear masks when they are within six feet of residents entering Town Hall to do business.
“I think it’s kind of overbearing to say that they have to wear their masks all day when they’re here,” Croce said. “I don’t know where we’re going with this Delta variant and how should we react to it or not react at all.”
In response to a question from Councilman Mike Putnam, Town Clerk Donna Hedrick said she dons a mask when she meets with the public. Otherwise, she doesn’t wear a mask in her office.
“If I have to come out when I do a marriage license or stuff like that, yes I do (wear a mask),” Hedrick said.
Although Councilman Dean DePew was opposed to reinstituting the mask mandate in Town Hall, he felt strongly that employees should be allowed to ask visitors to don masks if they are in close contact with one another.
“In my opinion, I think that every employee should have the opportunity to ask anybody who’s coming in close proximity to put the mask on,” he said.
Councilmen Darryl Matthews, Larry Farrelly and Putnam all agreed with Croce and DePew that they weren’t in favor of reinstating the mask mandate. Though no official vote was taken, the current policy of not requiring masks in Town Hall remained in place.
In other news, the board agreed with one minor change to the Survey Monkey questionnaire about the proposed community center. Croce said he would relay the news about the board’s approval to Laura Dougherty, secretary of the Park Expansion Committee, so it could go out to the public.
DePew suggested there be a deadline for the public to complete the questionnaire. After some discussion, it was decided to set Nov. 1 as the deadline.
Recreation Director Kim Way proposed changing the town’s traditional Halloween celebration at Hurds Family Farm to a “Trunk or Treat” at Thomas Felten Park.
“It’s pretty much like a regular Trick or Treat except you’re getting the candy from the people at the back of their cars in a community setting to bring all of our community together,” she explained.
The board enthusiastically supported Way’s idea.