ALBANY—Swine flu is upon us. And New York has responded, in part, by spending over $19,000 on 546 hand sanitizer dispensers that are now dotting the walls of state buildings near elevators.
"The Office of General Services continues to support Governor David A. Paterson and Dr. Richard Daines, Commissioner of the Department of Health, in implementing a comprehensive statewide strategy for minimizing the impact of a possible resurgence of the H1N1 influenza virus during the 2009-10 flu season," said Brad Maione, a spokesman for OGS. "As part of these efforts and in the interest of helping state and the public employees to stay healthy, OGS has installed hand sanitizer dispensers in various locations throughout OGS-managed office buildings."
A memo was sent Monday by Valerie Grey, director of state operations, to the heads of all agencies and authorities outlining what can be done to stop the spread of the flu, including frequent hand washing with soap and water. "Alcohol-based gel hand cleaners are also good to use if you are not near a sink," Grey wrote.
Maione said that while "use of hand sanitizers can help contain the spread of the influenza virus and that the sanitizers should not be used as a replacement for other recommended flu mitigation actions – getting vaccinated; washing your hands frequently with warm, soapy water; and staying home if you have flu symptoms."
There are 22 in the Capitol building, and a total of 388 throughout downtown Albany, Maione said. The Harriman Campus, in uptown Albany, has 73; various other downstate buildings have 50 and upstate buildings have 35.
Maione said that the dispensers were installed by staff laborers; the dispensers cost $6,270 and the sanitizing fluid cost $12,740.
"Each full dispenser provides about 1,700 uses," Maione said. "We fully expect the supply to last through the flu season."