While Saratoga County Virus Spikes, Saratoga County’s Government Flounders

[JK: A reader has written to me advising that Karl Zeilman was employed by the county years before he became the Saratoga County Republican Chairman]

On Monday, December 7, 2020, Saratoga County set a record for COVID infections with 101 reported. There has been a 145% increase in cases during the last two weeks.

WNYT has had two stories that expose the woefully inadequate efforts being made by Saratoga County to do contact tracing to help control the outbreak of the virus.

The WNYT story on Tuesday night (December 8, 2020).

The WNYT story on Wednesday night (December 9, 2020).

According to research done by WNYT, there should be 30 contact tracers per 100,000 population. Saratoga County has a population of 229,863. Using that metric, we should have 69 tracers. In fact, according to the Daily Gazette the county currently has only 23.

The WNYT story documents that Saratoga County residents who were found to be positive for the virus and were told they would be contacted by a tracer subsequently heard nothing.

Dr. Daniel Kuhles, the newly appointed Saratoga County Health Commissioner, told WNYT that the county is working on hiring more tracers.

I checked the county website and found that the notice for hiring additional contact tracers was not posted until December 2, 2020. Given the dire warning issued by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that the Thanksgiving Holiday would result in a dangerous spike in cases, it is hard to understand why the county would wait until December to start to hire more staff.

When Dr. Kuhles was asked by Channel 13 if he expected to have enough staff to contact all infected cases he answered, “I can’t predict the future…It’s certainly our goal.”

Consistent with the way this county operates, the process is completely opaque. It remains unknown as to why it took so long to decide to hire more tracers. It is also unknown as to how many tracers the county plans to hire.

It would be helpful if our Saratoga Springs Supervisors, Tara Gaston and Matthew Veitch, took a more public role in explaining why the delay and what the plan is for addressing the need for proper tracing.

All of this seems like an extension of the county’s COVID salary bonus debacle.

I would remind the readers that the chair of the Saratoga County Republican Party, Karl Zeilman, is also the head of the county’s Emergency Response Center. It seems to me ill advised to have such a partisan individual in such a high profile position especially in light of what Channel 13 has exposed. I have no way to know how capable Chairman Zeilman is but the fact that he is the County Republican Chairman creates the appearance that he got his job through cronyism. In the interest of credibility, Chairman Zeilman should consider seeking some other employment.

This county seems to blunder from one expose of incompetence to the next.

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