Tompkins County Council of Governments
September 9, 2020
by Councilperson Robert Lynch, Enfield TCCOG Representative
The Tompkins County Council of Governments (TCCOG) convened Thursday, August 27th via zoom. I’d call it an active meeting. We discussed three principal items. I’ll touch on the highlights.
1. Our principal action item was to adopt unanimously a Resolution requesting Tompkins County to urge the New York State Legislature to allocate funding to local municipalities to support rural EMS operations. Trumansburg Mayor Rordan Hart is the primary proponent of this initiative. I’ve met with Mayor Hart since our meeting. As our former representative to TCCOG and now our alternate member, Supervisor Beth McGee has also been instrumental in bringing rural EMS needs to TCCOG’s attention.
The Resolution urges the State to consider funding rural, paid advance life support (ALS) ambulance services much as it does town roadways through CHIPS. TCCOG’s Resolution asks each Tompkins County village and town board to request the County Legislature to lobby Albany for adoption.
The Resolution TCCOG passed gets the issue on the table. We may wish to condition Enfield’s endorsement on language that not only provides support for paid services like those in Trumansburg and Dryden, but also for volunteer rescue squads like we have through the Enfield Volunteer Fire Company. I’ve suggested Mayor Hart attend a future meeting of our Town Board to discuss his proposal.
2. TCCOG discussed, but took no action on the State Department of Transportation’s proposal to reroute East- and West-bound traffic through Ithaca’s west end. The State argues the change would ease Route 13 traffic should the City, as planned, further develop waterfront properties along Cayuga Inlet.
The State’s plan would particularly impact drivers’ using Route 96 up west hill. It proposes one block of West Buffalo Street be restricted to one-way eastbound; using West Court Street to handle the westbound traffic. City and Town of Ithaca officials voiced concerns. This so-called “couplet” plan was tabled by an Ithaca Common Council committee last month. That same committee should meet next Wednesday, September 16th to consider it again. The TCCOG Transportation Subcommittee, which I chair, may also address the matter in future weeks. The plan’s fully described on the City’s website.
3. Finally, Nina Saeli of the Tompkins County Health Department presented an informative PowerPoint on what she called a “Medical Countermeasures Plan,” a plan to facilitate mass medication distributions in the event of a fast-spreading and lethal natural-occurring or terrorist-imposed biological attack.
“The plan is not written for pandemics,” Ms. Saeli cautioned. The Medical Countermeasures Plan was initiated after the anthrax scare of 2001. Its emphasis remains on quick response; mass preventive measures; not treatment. Essentially, it’s a sprint, not a marathon, with an activation schedule of a mere 48 hours. Health officers access vaccines from the national stockpiles and then have points of distribution (POD’s) ready at a moment’s notice. The Health Department’s coordinator did acknowledge these POD’s could become useful should a COVID-19 vaccine become available, helping it get vaccines out quickly to the general population, depending upon how the CDC plans its rollout.
What Ms. Saeli most seeks right now is appropriate locations for these Open POD’s—public inoculation centers—to be designated in every town in the county. She has not yet identified a location for Enfield. We might work to suggest an appropriate site or sites for such centers. One might be the Fire Company’s meeting room, or perhaps the Enfield School. I’ll carry any ideas back to the Health Department.