JAMESTOWN – The three men representing Chautauqua County in Albany and Washington were in downtown Jamestown Tuesday to make a push for reopening Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties, despite the Western New York region not yet being ready to open under guidelines set by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Congressman Tom Reed, Senator George Borrello, and Assemblyman Andy Goodell were at the Crown Roasting Company on 3rd Street to hold a news conference updating the community on their effort to reopen the local economy while also voicing criticism of the governor’s regional plan. The three Republicans were joined by fellow Republican Assemblyman Joe Giglio, who represents Nearby Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties in Albany.
Reed said that unlike the more heavily populated Erie County, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties are all seeing significantly lower COVID-19-related numbers – yet they still have to follow Erie County’s lead because they are all included in the same Western New York region.
“There is a very logical reason for those three counties to be considered separate than Erie County and the Western Region that they have and obviously it’s that there is a difference between those three counties and the urban population center of Buffalo… There is a really good – and I made this argument with the Lieutenant Governor and she acknowledges that is a legitimate position to take – in regards to separating those counties out,” Reed said, referencing a meeting earlier in the day with Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who is overseeing the reopening effort of the Western New York region.
Senator Borrello also said that businesses are already working on making adjustments to deal with COVID-19 and that needs to be considered when it comes to allowing the counties to reopen.
“Nobody is expecting us to flip a switch and go back to where we were before this pandemic,” Borrello said. “We’ve also called on businesses to develop their own plan. I can’t think of anyone better than someone who owns a business or manages a business to come up with a detailed plan on how they can restart. And that is what happened – following CDC and OSHA guidelines, which is also what the governor has called for – to ensure those businesses have a plan that is tailored.”
Despite their concerns about being included in the Western New York region, the group of representatives said they are hopeful numbers will allow the region to open soon (as of Tuesday the region met five of the seven standards required for reopening under the governor’s New York Forward Reopening Plan). But if not, they are going to continue to pressure the state to allow the lower populated counties to move forward, regardless of the numbers coming out of buffalo. They also said they support resident’s opposed to the governor’s regional approach to also continuing voicing their concerns.