Schoharie County defies state order to reinstate health director
Rachel Silberstein reports in the Times Union that the Schoharie County government is defying a state order to reinstate their health director. Dr. Amy Gildemeister was unanimously approved for a new contract by the county Board of Health, but the supervisors' board has refused to authorize her salary, because she enforced mask mandates and advocated for vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gildemeister's previous term ended on Jan. 21, and Gildemeister had been going into the office since then as directed by Acting State Health Commissioner James V. McDonald, who in a Jan. 12 letter advised that only members of the county health board, not legislators, have the legal authority to appoint or remove a county health official. "Finding no evidence that the Schoharie County Board of Health engaged in the required removal proceeding, or provided Dr. Gildemeister an opportunity to be heard, I must also find that the Board of Supervisors' attempt to remove Dr. Gildemeister is null and void as a matter of law," McDonald wrote. But this week Gildemeister's access to her office has been restricted. A spokesperson for the state Department of Health says the agency will take enforcement action against the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors. More than half of the state's county public health leaders have left their jobs since the start of the COVID-19 health crisis, including, in recent weeks, the health directors in Columbia and Greene counties. Read more about this story in the Times Union.