JAMESTOWN – Another Reopen NY rally is being planned for tomorrow in Jamestown.
Organizers say individuals will again meet in Dow Park at noon on Saturday, May 16 to continue to call for the ending of New York on Pause, which was put in place by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in mid March in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“Individuals will gather to urge our state, county, and local officials to honor their oaths to the Constitution and allow western New Yorkers to get back to work and their lives responsibly,” explained organizer and local resident Garrit Cain. “We will have residents ready to share with the press how their livelihoods have been negatively impacted by the NY on PAUSE/Shutdown.”
As part of his Forward New York plan, Gov. Cuomo announced at the start of this month that each of the state’s ten economic development regions are required to meet specific thresholds for seven different sets of criteria before a phased-in reopening can begin. Those metrics are based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control. So far Western New York has yet to meet all of the criteria, while five other regions in the state have been given the green light to being reopening.
FLAWED REOPENING STRATEGY?
Cain said the strategy of reopening the Western New York based economic development region all at the same time is flawed because it ignores the difference between rural counties like Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties and the more heavily populated Erie and Niagara Counties.
“The data are clear that the virus is not impacting these regions equally. Therefore, we should have very different reopening strategies,” Cain said. He’s also pointing to recent comments from state and federal representatives who also favor a county-by-county reopening strategy.
“Our State legislative and US Congress representatives have all come out in support of a county-based reopening strategy despite the obstinacy of Governor Cuomo to keep the plan tied to arbitrary economic development regions,” Cain said – referring to a recent press conference held by Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning), State Senator George Borrello (R-Irving), and Assemblymen Andrew Goodell (R-Ellicott) and Joe Giglio (R-Gowanda). “These law makers have stopped just short of telling Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties to open in defiance of the State. Assemblyman Goodell made the boldest case saying, ‘Chautauqua County needs to open in a safe responsible manner now.'”
According to Borrello and Goodell, most local businesses in Chautauqua County have already developed and submitted reopening plans that detail safety measures they will enact to protect staff and customers.
“It’s time for our representatives -especially at the local and county level – to trust and support the people they were elected to represent. We are calling on them to be bold, stand up to the State, tell us we are free to get back to work responsibly,” Cain explained. “A localized strategy could include the County Health Departments signing off on business’s reopening plans and having business owners sign some sort of liability release for the County.”
“There will likely be pushback by the State but these potential consequences pale in comparison to the damage to lives and livelihoods that has occurred and will continue every day this shutdown drags on,” Cain Said. “We ask those brave legislators who spoke Tuesday, County Executive PJ Wendel, and municipal leaders to take that leap and assure us they have our backs if we go back to work with or without the blessing of the State.”
This is the third week in a row that such a rally is planned in Jamestown. The latest rally also comes as Lt. governor Kathy Hochul announced on Thursday that Western New York is not ready to reopen after the region experienced another setback and is no longer meeting the criteria for new hospitalizations.