By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA — The Common Council meeting Tuesday, Aug. 3, began with a message from Mayor Gary Herzig regarding the recent updates regarding the delta variant of the coronavirus.
“We’re all concerned about the variant,” Herzig said. “The numbers aren’t alarming but they are going in the wrong direction.”
Herzig likened it to a race between the virus and vaccinations. “Unfortunately, what we didn’t see coming is the large number of people who didn’t want to get the vaccinations.”
Otsego County has a 57% vaccination rate, Herzig said, which is lower than both the state and national average of 70%.
As of Tuesday, there were three reported new cases in Otsego County, bringing the total cases up to 31, according to the Otsego County Department of Health, making it a 2.6% seven day positivity average.
“If it continues this way, it’s not just the delta variant, we give the virus time to create new variants which could be even worse,” Herzig said. “In the meantime, if you’re not vaccinated, wear a mask and if you are vaccinated, feel free to use a mask as a safety precaution.”
“If people have concerns, they should talk to their own private physicians,” Herzig told AllOtsego.com after the meeting regarding those reluctant to get the vaccine. He said he thought the adverse side effects of getting the vaccine were “extraordinarily low.”
“It’s certainly safer than getting COVID,” Herzig said.
City Administrator Greg Mattice also said Oneonta was “staying abreast” of the changing situation and “there could be some changes” if the situation worsens.
Councilmember Luke Murphy, D-First Ward, is one of the few members of the council to continue to wear a mask. He said he has gotten the vaccine but he is being cautious because of his work with students.
“I have a concern since our numbers are so low, I just want to be cautious,” Murphy told AllOtsego.com.
Murphy also called the delta variant “very alarming” and said he read CDC reports that the variant was “pretty close to being as infectious as chicken pox.”
Items on the agenda for the meeting included a motion for the Catellla Well Raw Water Transmission Main Replacement project be funded, an adjustment to the Oneonta Fire Department union’s collective bargaining agreement, and the acceptance of a bid for the Railroad Avenue and Neahwa Park Sanitary Sewer Main Replacement capital project. All of these, and other items, passed unanimously by the council under a consent agenda.
Other issues that were discussed but not voted on included the possibility of having non-voting students on city commissions.