HAMBURG, N.Y. — Earlier this week we told you how the Town of Hamburg became a focal point with 234 COVID-19 cases, which is the most in Erie County and the highest per capita infection. It was even cited by Governor Andrew Cuomo when he decided to impose the tighter restrictions of the Orange Zone cluster designation.
Now we have learned that the town government and emergency services are also coping with the pandemic with cases of infection at Hamburg Town Hall.
At Hamburg Town Hall the COVID-19 prevention warning signs are everywhere, just like many other government buildings and businesses in this now Orange Zone county. But there are also signs that town court was closed Thursday and Friday and that the police building lobby and dispatch center is closed to visitors.
That's because of a handful of COVID positive cases in the last ten days. Cases involving a court employee, code enforcement officer, recreation and building and grounds staffers, and at least one police detective and dispatcher. There could be more according to Town Supervisor James Shaw.
"I'm just getting this on a second-hand basis that there were others in the police department that tested positive - perhaps as many as two more," Shaw said. "There's one employee in our dispatch department that tested positive."
Shaw points out that the Hamburg Police Department has 60 officers and that there are 14 or more dispatchers. So he does not feel public safety is compromised. But again, there is more testing underway.
We also know the Hamburg Volunteer Fire Department in the Village of Hamburg had at least three positive cases recently. One case was fatal involving a 50-year-old male member. Village Mayor Tom Moses who is also associated with the fire department told us they have taken all possible precautions at the fire hall on Union Street to prevent more spread.
Back at Town Hall, Supervisor Shaw stressed there have been several deep cleaning operations of the building and the separate police department headquarters behind town hall ever since these cases started to turn up at the beginning of November.
He also says they're doing everything they can to deal with this COVID situation telling us, "We contracted with outside cleaning companies to do thorough cleaning stem to stern in all of those departments where infections occurred. And in other departments within the Hamburg Town Hall."
Shaw says the Town Hall will remain open for now. But they are prepared to have some staff work remotely if need be. There was a similar situation during the initial phase of COVID cases in the early spring.
Of course, all this is happening against the backdrop of the high case count in the overall Hamburg community in the 14075 zip code.
"We at town hall take it very seriously and people in our community have to take this most recent surge very seriously. We want to be out of code orange," Shaw said.