ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — President and CEO of Rochester Chamber of Commerce Bob Duffy — who is tasked with advising the governor on reopening the Rochester and Finger Lakes region— was joined by Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and the Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza on Friday to provide an update on the status of reopening Monroe County.
“Regardless of when and how we reopen, we have to do it in a way that responsible and doens’t throw away the hard work we’ve been doing to slow the spread,” Bello said.
Currently under the NY Pause order, the state may begin phase one of opening on May 15, which includes opening up businesses related to construction and manufacturing businesses.
Duffy said whenever the area gets close to phase two, it isn’t clear which businesses will be included in that reopening.
“We’re not holding back we literally don’t have any idea,” Duffy said “That’s yet to be determine that will be based on Dr. Mendoza and the county executive about it will be the public health data that will drive decisions.”
Regarding Friday’s “Reopen Rochester” protest outside the downtown Monroe County office building, which coincided with similar, simultaneous demonstrations held around the state, Bello said he understands their concern.
“I understand their frustration, people are suffering, the economy is hurting,” Bello said. “The balance we need to take is to reopen the economy as quickly, but as safely as we can, is to avoid a second spike later on that undoes all of our efforts.”
When we do get to the other phases of reopening, Duffy said there could be new opportunities for local companies to shift gears and manufacture something that could help ease the pandemic. Hickey Freeman has shifted from designer clothes to face masks. Black Button Distilling has shifted from their liquor to make hand sanitizer.
“I want to applaud the companies that already turned around and created the PPE. Great public services by many but there could be more opportunities ahead,” Duffy said.
However, the timing and layout of phase two still remains unclear.
“This isn’t the yellow brick road,” Mendoza said. “The reality is there’s nothing about this that is easy. Today our judgement impacts everybody and as a community we need to think about how our actions impact others.”
When asked about hazard pay for Monroe County workers, Bello said the pay will be retroactively back to April 4 and employees should see that reflected in their next paycheck.
Although though the rise in confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues to rise in Monroe County, Dr. Mendoza said that curve isn’t the one he’s concerned about flattening, as he says it’s more important to monitor hospitalization rates and ICU admissions locally.
“As we test more we find more cases, that’s not the curve we’re looking at,” Dr. Mendoza said. “We’re looking at the curve capacity as far as hospitalizations and ICU admissions. That curve has flattened and is stable and is well under the capacity our systems can support.”
During his press conference on Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in order to open up the state, more testing will have to be done.
“Everybody wants to reopen, the caveat is reopening in a way that doesn’t increase the spread of the virus,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The second fact you have to deal with, as a science in this formula, do you have the hospital capacity available if that rate of infection increases?”
On monitoring rate of of infection, the governor says it comes down to testing capacity. To help with this undertaking, the governor is partnering with former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Johns Hopkins University to develop a system for widespread contact tracing throughout the state.