MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County Officials are providing more details and information regarding the gradual reopening of the local economy, including urging the community to remain vigilant and continue social distancing guidelines during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
On Tuesday morning a press conference took place featuring County Executive PJ Wendel, Health Commissioner Christine Schuyler, Sheriff Jim Quattrone and others and came after the governor announced the Western New York Region can begin phase 1 of its Forward New York reopening effort.
The county executive said he was happy to see some local businesses begin the effort to reopen, but he also cautioned that residents must continue to obey COVID-19 health guidelines in order to ensure there the region doesn’t see another shutdown.
“We do not want to make a back slide and revert back to a pause, so your decisions are not only critical to the health and safety of residents but also the health and safety of small businesses here in Western New York that are eager for reopening to take place,” Wendel said.
Not all businesses will be able to open. Instead, only those that were already considered “essential” and those listed as Phase One businesses can reopen, and that’s only if they have put in place a plan to protect employees and customers. Businesses and activities that involve construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, agriculture,forestry, and fishing and hunting can resume. Also, Retail businesses that provide Curbside Pickup can also again reopen.
Schuyler also noted that just because the economy is seeing a gradual reopening, those who are most at risk of COVID-19 must continue to take precautions.
“Those people who are over the age of 60 or who have underlying health conditions including such common things as hypertension, diabetes, heart and lung disease, asthma, and obesity are at higher risk of complications caused by COVID-19,” Schuyler said. “We have to do what is best to protect those vulnerable populations.”
Schuyler also said that initial data from antibody testing conducted in the county has shown that the coronavirus has been very prevalent in the community to this point.
“So far we are only seeing a 2 to 3 percent positive rate in the antibody test. So while there isn’t anything scientific to this yet – we really don’t have enough data to say that but to have that many people not showing antibodies makes us think that COVID-19 has not been widely spread in our area and is another reason that makes us think we will see an increased rate of infection once we open up,” Schuyler said.
The next step for Western New York is to enter Phase 2 of reopening, which includes retail, professional services, administrative support and real estate/rentals and leasing. The governor had said Phase 2 will not begin until at least two weeks after phase 1.
Businesses who have questions can contact Empire State Development (ESD) at (716) 846-8200 and the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency at (716) 661-8900. They can also go online to forward.ny.gov to find guidance documents, including safety plan templates, and complete the necessary paperwork.
Meanwhile, Chautauqua County Health officials are reporting one New Case of COVID-19 in Chautauqua County. Health officials say the latest case involves a young adult male and brings the total number of cases in the county to 54, although only 13 of them are currently active. Another 37 have since recovered and there’s also been four deaths.
There’s a total of 225 cases under quarantine/isolation orders – that’s 5 fewer than what was reported on Monday. Not all of those being monitored are confirmed to have COVID-19 but have either shown symptoms, are awaiting results, or have risk factors; and an additional 44 tests have come back negative for Tuesday, bringing the total number of negative test results to 1,871.