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Mayors of Saranac Lake, Plattsburgh ask citizens to avoid congregating

Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau speaks at Berkeley Green in Saranac Lake in July 2019, introducing Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul. (Enterprise photo — Elizabeth Izzo)

SARANAC LAKE — The mayors of Saranac Lake and Plattsburgh issued a joint press release Wednesday, urging their communities to consider curtailing attendance at spectator events, houses of worship and other gatherings that could facilitate human transmission of coronavirus.

Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau said it is not “if” but “when” the virus comes to the village.

He said he has asked Village Manager John Sweeney to declare a state of emergency in Saranac Lake and said he believes that declaration to be imminent. A state of emergency gives the municipal leaders special powers and is a gateway for the state to provide funding.

“We are asking everyone to consider right now if it is prudent to congregate,” Rabideau said.

He said this is one of the easiest known ways to prevent spread of the virus and that it is in preparation for when someone eventually comes to town with the virus.

Rabideau said he and Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read, who lead communities at each end of the Saranac River, are following Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s statewide containment strategy.

Effective Monday, March 16 at 8 a.m., both municipalities will impose a plan to minimize human-to-human personal contact at City Hall, Town Hall and other municipal offices.

The mayors said municipal government will still be conducting its necessary work, with an increased use of technology to reduce transmission of COVID-19.

“We will make every effort to accommodate staff or members who cannot attend meetings due to health concerns through videoconferencing facilities,” the statement says. “We also require those who wish to comment to these committees to submit their comments in advance to the chairperson of the respective committees.”

“Meetings will be open only to members and invited guests and will be broadcast via social media opportunities which will be announced.”

While local governments cannot intervene in the affairs of private organizations, they still request leaders of local groups to minimize the gathering of their members.

“While these steps may at times be inconvenient, the most vulnerable populations may be protected and lives may be saved,” the statement says.

Read and Rabideau will meet in the City of Plattsburgh Thursday afternoon for additional comment with more details of this meeting to be announced.

“Little Shop of Horrors”

Diane Fox, superintendent of Saranac Lake Central School District, sent a robo call to students’ families, encouraging them to attend this weekend’s musical production of “Little Shop of Horrors,” but added that anyone who has traveled outside the country recently or has flu-like symptoms should not attend.

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