On Wednesday May 13, a third press conference was held by T Martha Sauerbrey, Chairperson of the Tioga County Legislature.
Sauerbrey started the press conference by talking about the how region of Tioga County, along with seven other counties, is included in Phase One of the reopen plan. The Southern Tier Region includes Tioga, Stueben, Chemung, Broome, Chenango, Tompkins, Delaware and Schuyler Counties.
New York will reopen on a regional basis as each region meets the criteria necessary to protect the public health. “How New York reopens is not an emotional question, it’s not a political question, it’s not an anecdotal question, and it’s not a gut instinct question. Follow the facts. Follow the data,” as stated by Governor Andrew Cuomo in his NY Forward guide.
The businesses being allowed to reopen in Phase One are construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, select retail for curbside pickup only, agriculture, forestry and fishing. The plan is to have at least two weeks between each phase, and a phase is complete, the numbers will be closely monitored to try and make sure it is safe for the next phase to open. Phase Two is tentatively scheduled for May 29. Phase Three may start on June 10, and Phase Four on June 26.
The state has created and deployed the New York Forward Reopening Advisory board to help guide its reopening strategy and develop industry-specific safety guidelines.
As businesses reopen, they will not be returning to business as usual. “Transmission of COVID-19 will remain a threat to employees and customers so everyone will continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing as we stay cautious as we move forward,” Sauerbrey said. “Business owners will have to adapt to the ‘new normal.’”
Businesses allowed to reopen need to develop plans and should consider three main factors: protection for employees and customers, changes to the physical workspace, and to consider implementing processes that meet the changing public health obligations, like screening individuals who enter the workplace and reporting confirmed positives to customers.
Leeann Tinney of the Tioga County Economic Development and Planning talked about working toward reopening the economy in Tioga County and focusing on getting the state back to work. “The reopening phases plan prioritizing those businesses that can reopen and have made safe changes.” She went on to talk about a guide that has been put together by Team Tioga and can be found on the Covid19.tiogacounty.ny website. The phases for reopening can also be found on the website.
Tioga County Public Health’s Kylie Holochak talked about even though the Southern Tier being given a green light to reopen, she still encourages testing, as many are showing positive in testing yet have none of the symptoms. She also is not recommending the home test kits. “Individuals showing some of the symptoms should self-quarantine for 14 days, talk to your primary care; be tested, and should you have other illnesses also touch base with your physician; don’t be afraid of the hospitals if needed.”
Elayne Jardine spoke as the point person in Tioga County for the 2020 Census, and talked about how the census helps with the pandemic. “The Census helps make a more complete count for funding. $600 million federal dollars are at stake and is affected by the census numbers such as public schools getting federal funding.”
She went on to say the full census count is due to the President by Dec. 31, 2020; and Tioga County has achieved 63 percent. “It takes 10 minutes to answer 10 questions, please be sure to take time to do it,” Jardine said.
When the conference was opened for questions from the media, it was pointed out that a group of hair salon owners, barbers and gym owners are possibly planning on reopening,
The PAUSE Enforcement Task Force Violation Complaint form allows individuals to file a complaint about a business open/or opening when it is not yet their time. One can also call 1-833-789-0470, 24/7 to file a complaint.
When asked about the status of graduations and church services, Sauerbrey said those have not been determined. She went on to say it is important for everyone to know they should keep checking ForwardNY.gov as it will be changing on a daily basis. “We asked everyone to continue good habits as we go through reopening.”
Another question that was addressed was to the status of Tioga Downs, whivh Sauerbrey reported CEO Jeff Gural is working diligently to try and continue the racing with no audience, and Watkins Glen is looking at the same plan. “Jeff Gural has defined a plan that has been submitted to Governor Cuomo.”
Sauerbrey ended the meeting by stating, “The secret to our reopening is to play by the rules and work as a team.”