Sullivan County preparing to reopen

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MONTICELLO, NY — Residents have been generally barred from the government center since the shutdown in March caused by the pandemic. Sullivan County officials are now beginning to consider the steps that will need to be taken to safely reopen the government center.

At the monthly county meeting on May 21, legislator Joe Perrello asked county manager Josh Potosek if the county could mandate that people entering the government center be required to wear a mask. Potosek said there are certain things that can be mandated in a public building and that adopting certain measures would be part of the reopening process. 

“We’re navigating some of the guidance right now on how to reopen the government center. We’re looking at things such as [adopting a policy] almost like a school district where you have to sign in, say where you’re going, just to help with contact tracing, God forbid, if someone got sick. So, there’s a host of things we’re looking at. We don’t have any formal recommendations yet, but that’s going to be part of reopening.” He said the state is looking at county operations as a business, and counties must follow the same guidelines as businesses that reopen.

Potosek said his office had a meeting with the Sullivan County Board of Elections because of the primary election coming up on June 23 and early voting starts in the early part of June and will only be available at the government center. So they’ve been examining ways to do that safely.

Perrello said that, when he entered the building earlier that day, he saw three people that he assumed to be working for the county who were not wearing masks. “So to respect your peers and to protect yourself and to protect me, I think the county should put a statement out saying if you work in this building you should wear a mask,” unless a person can be six feet or more away from other people.

At an earlier meeting during public comment, communications director Dan Hust read a letter from Star Hesse who criticized the way county meetings have been held during the pandemic. “Most other virtual meetings are conducted under Zoom or other interactive [media] that allows actual, real-time live comment and input from the public and other participants. Under the county’s live stream system participants have no live input on interactions on discussions.

Hesse specifically asked about Judge Michael McGuire, and why he has not yet stepped into the position of county attorney, and whether McGuire might “answer the complaints that have been lodged against him.”

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