COVID-19 Update: Social Distancing Enforcement; Vera House Shelters Remain Open

Mar 27, 2020

The CDC and other public health officials say to keep a minimum of six feet between each other to avoid spreading the coronavirus.
Credit CDC

People in Onondaga County observed violating social distancing orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 might get a visit from law enforcement.  Sheriff Gene Conway says most might only get a warning, as was the case for about 50 calls that have come in over the past 24 hours. 


But he says some could be facing nuisance charges.

"It's like most things.  If we get called back to a house repeatedly; we get called to the same business that appears to be open, that, of course, changes the picture.  We're looking for cooperation, not confrontation."

County Executive Ryan McMahon says it's a judgment call.  House parties or non-essential businesses operating with many people make themselves targets for virus spread...and law enforcement.

"We're looking out for their own well-being.  If they get this virus, you can get very sick.  We have 18 people sick enough to be in the hospital, and six are fighting for their lives.  We aren't doing this and talking about this for any other reason that we want you to be safe."

To that end, the City of Syracuse has removed all basketball hoops from city parks.  Mayor Ben Walsh called it an "unfortunate but necessary" measure to keep people safe after many reports of many people young people playing basketball and not observing social distancing rules.  

County Executive McMahon says 123 people now have COVID-19, up 12 from Thursday. 

McMahon issued an executive order, which can be seen at bottom of page.

VERA HOUSE SHELTERS AND SERVICES REMAIN AVAILABLE

The Syracuse agency that helps people with domestic and relationship violence wants local residents to know they’re still providing support and intervention services.  Vera House Director Randi Bregman says some have changed due the Corona Virus and concerns about staying safe.  But shelters remain open.  Therapy and advocacy have moved to mostly phone or video meetings.  And she says the new methods have come with some unexpected benefits.

Credit twitter@verahouseinc

"We've even had therapists who've described the opportunity to get to see a special animal that somebody has at their home that they've talked about.  Now that they're doing video conferencing, the victim or survivor can show them their animal.  We're trying to focus on the positive.  Yes, we know we're missing that direct, in-person contact."

For victims and survivors of abuse, Bregman notes orders of protection are extended until further notice.  She’s concerned with so many people staying home.

"The flip side of keeping people safe from the virus is forcing people to be kept in homes where they may not be safe.  Most of our calls come in during the day, perhaps when victims may be separated from the person who's hurting them." 

Economic concerns and stress are running high now, but Bregman says they never consider those causes of violence because people can make other choices.  They are however, contributing factors. 
Anyone interested in helping can reach out to a suspected victim.  Let them know about the orders of protection and that Vera House services continue.  Their hotline for any report or information is (315) 468-3260 . 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FROM VERA HOUSE

•            We will provide most of our advocacy and clinical services remotely through phone or video options.
•             Our in-person groups have been discontinued indefinitely.

•             At this time, we are not accepting new volunteers and we are postponing all volunteer trainings.

•             As we encourage social distancing to slow the progress of Coronavirus, all Vera House staff who are not providing services at shelter have been encouraged to work remotely.

•             We will have a very limited staff presence at our administrative offices, 723 James Street, Syracuse, for continuity of service and emergencies.

Vera House does not have a definitive time frame as to when their services will be back to usual.  Any questions can be directed to Vera House Executive Director Randi Bregman or call (315) 425-0818.

SUPPLIES NEEDED

Vera House has put out a call for essential supplies that are in short supply in stores.  They're hoping people can drop off items at their 723 James St. offices Monday-Friday.  Call ahead at 425-0818 and staff will come outside to collect the items.

URGENTLY NEEDED:

  • Facemasks
  • Bleach
  • Disinfecting Wipes
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • No-Touch Thermometers
  • Alcohol Wipes
  • Paper Towels
  • Toilet Paper

OTHER NEEDS:

  • Soap
  • Shampoo & Conditioner (products for African American hair too)
  • Toothpaste
  • Lotion

LOCAL EMERGENCY ORDER OF THE ONONDAGA COUNTY EXECUTIVE ISSUED PURSUANT TO PROCLAMATION OF EMERGENCY

ORDER NO. 9 MARCH 27, 2020 PERTAINING TO CRIMINAL ENFORCEMENT

WHEREAS, on March 14, 2020, I, J. Ryan McMahon, II, Onondaga County Executive, by the authority vested in me by the Onondaga County Charter, the Onondaga County Administrative Code, and the laws of the State of New York, declared, pursuant to Section 24 of Article 2-B of the New York State Executive Law, that the public safety was sufficiently imperiled such that a Proclamation of Emergency was declared within the territorial limits of Onondaga County; and

WHEREAS, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases within Onondaga County has been increasing, with travel related cases and contact cases reported and expected to continue, making it imperative for local government and local law enforcement to have all available measures to enforce limitations upon the operation of facilities and the number of persons who may occupy any space; and

NOW, THEREFORE, in accordance with authority vested in me by the Onondaga County Charter and Code, local home rule powers, and Section 24 of the New York State Executive Law, effective immediately, I hereby provide as follows:

  1. Consistent with Executive Order 202.11, during the period when an Executive Order limiting operation of a type of facility or limiting the number of persons who may occupy any space is in effect, any operation of such a facility or occupancy of any such space by more than the number of persons allowed  by said Executive Order shall be deemed to be a violation oflaw and in particular, but not by way oflimitation, shall be deemed to be a violation of the Uniform Code or other local building code in effect in the jurisdiction in which the facility or space is located. In the event of any such violation, any state, county, or local police officer authorized to enforce laws within the jurisdiction in which the space or facility is located is authorized to remove persons from such space or facility. In addition, in the eveht of such violation, any state, county, or local code enforcement official or fire marshal authorized to enforce the Uniform Code or other local building code within the ju:risdiction in which the facility or space is located is authorized to issue an appearance ticket, a Notice of Violation, an Order to Remedy such violation, which shall require immediate compliance, and/or a Do Not Occupy Order to any owner, operator, or occupant of any such facility or space. Nothing in this provision shall limit the authority of any governmental unit or agency to take such other and/or additional enforcement actions to the extent necessary to ensure compliance with such occupancy-related directives or facility operation-related directives. Additionally, pursuant to New York State Executive Law Section 24(5), any person who knowingly violates an Executive

Order limiting operation of a type of facility or limiting the number of persons who may occupy any space shall be guilty of a class B misdemeanor and subject to additional civil action.

2.Consistent with Executive Order 202.3, no restaurant or bar within Onondaga County shall serve patrons food or beverage on-premises, and shall only serve food or beverage for off-premises consumption. In addition to any violation prescribed by Executive Order, pursuant to New York State Executive Law Section 24(5) any person who knowingly violates this Local Emergency Order shall be guilty of a class B misdemeanor and subject to additional civil action.

  1. Consistent with Executive Order 202.8, all businesses and not-for profit entities within Onondaga County shall reduce the in-person workforce at any locations by 100%. In addition to any violation prescribed by Executive Order, including violation of an order pursuant to section 12 of the New York State Public Health Law, pursuant to New York State Executive Law Section 24(5) any person who knowingly violates this Local Emergency Order shall be guilty of a class B misdemeanor and subject to additional civil action.
  2. Consistent with Executive Order 202.10, non-essential gathering of individuals of any size for any reason (e.g., parties, celebrations  or other social events) are canceled or postponed. In addition to any violation prescribed by Executive Order, pursuant to New York State Executive Law Section 24(5) any person who knowingly violates this Local Emergency Order shall be guilty of a class B misdemeanor and subject to additional civil action.

This order is necessary to provide for social distancing to safeguard the public health and welfare, and necessary to assist in controlling the disaster effort. This Order is intended to comply with all laws and regulations, state and federal,  and shall be read and interpreted in such manner.

As the law requires a Local Emergency Order not to exceeq 5 days, this Order shall remain in effect for 5 days through March 31, 2020, and will be formally renewed by the issuance of successive 5-day Orders.

This Order is intended to comply with all laws and regulations, state and federal, and shall be read and interpreted in such manner.