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ROOST takes community’s temperature on visitors

The Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism is conducting a survey to gauge how safe residents feel when shopping or attending events, and how receptive they are to welcoming tourists back to the region.

The Lake Placid-based marketing agency plans to conduct this new survey every month or so as the coronavirus pandemic continues, ROOST CEO Jim McKenna said on a regional update call with more than 120 business leaders and elected officials on Wednesday.

The survey has 10 questions. Beyond asking about tourism and residents’ fear of contracting the virus relative to certain activities, the survey includes questions about what would make residents feel safer, and whom they would trust to make the right call about when it’s safe to reopen — local or state officials.

Of 872 people who responded to the first iteration of this survey — 50% of them residents of the Tri-Lakes region — 46.5% said they feel safe welcoming visitors back to their community, according to McKenna.

The full results of the survey are expected to be published next week. Responses are still being fielded. The survey can be found at tinyurl.com/roostresidentsentiment.

On a regional update call Wednesday, Hamilton County Board of Supervisors Chairman William Farber, a member of the North Country regional “control room,” said he’s “cautiously optimistic” about the seven-county North County region being able to move into Phase 3 reopening soon. Phase 3 would include the reopening of dine-in service at restaurants and other food services, and the region could enter this phase as soon as Friday if it continues to hit all seven state-imposed benchmarks and receives the OK from a team of international health experts, as well as the governor.

A few days after that happens, ROOST will move into its next phase of marketing the region, which is to promote local activities and businesses within the region.

“We are coordinating on businesses for a launch next week (mid-week),” ROOST Director of Marketing Michelle Clement said in an email. “We want to give businesses a few days of phase 3 to get their feet wet first. We will send you additional details very soon.”

Public health officials across the country have expressed concern that the pandemic could worsen if reopening takes place too quickly. Some have also expressed concern over mass gatherings during recent large-scale protests over police brutality, racism and the death of George Floyd.

As of Wednesday, Franklin County remained at zero active cases of COVID-19. Essex County had three active cases as of Tuesday. Neither county has recorded a COVID-19 death.

There were four people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the North Country as of Wednesday, according to the state Department of Health. Two of those people were in intensive care.

“We are seeing a lot of people coming back into the county, tourists and second homeowners,” Hamilton County Public Health Director Erica Mahoney said. “We’re interested to see what the influx of people will do to the numbers.”

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