Bob Duffy answers your COVID-19 questions about reopening Rochester, Finger Lakes regions


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Earlier this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo deputized Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and CEO Bob Duffy as a special volunteer advisor to oversee the reopening of the Rochester and Finger Lakes region.

In a News 8 special on Friday, Duffy answered the questions our community submitted about this pandemic; what it will take to reopen, how long can the shutdown last, and more.

Thank you for all of those who submitted questions. We weren’t able to get to all of them this time, but we will be doing this again in the future. Click the video player above to see the full question and answer session with Bob Duffy.

Your COVID-19 questions for Bob Duffy:

Anthony Mirabella: I am a physician finishing training, trying to build a home. We are now several months delayed due to the ban on residential construction. All of our liquidity is tied up in the build.  When can we expect these projects to be able to start again?

Francesca Pasquarella: How is testing in our region (diagnostic/antibody), do we have enough data; and is the testing infrastructure in place to guide decisions on reopening?

Alyssa Martin: What types of businesses/government offices (DMV, social services, HUD etc.) would reopen first?

Dave Limbeck: Has there been any discussion on having the elderly and at risk population continue to self isolate while allowing the majority of the population to return to work with some guidelines?

John Ulmen: I am a military member trying to sell my house in New York. I had to report to Georgia. Wife is still in NY sitting in a house she can’t show. I can’t buy a house here until old one sells. Why can’t real estate agents show houses with proper protocols in place when those same people can go to Walmart and other stores and have the option to ignore protocols?

Cori Buckman: How will we recover from this shutdown in regards to back rent and mortgage payments that were late when we do reopen?

Amy Parnell: When will Rochester Hospitals begin elective surgery? Many are waiting to see specialists, have important tests, and dealing with painful and difficult medical issues.

Michelle Gilbert: When can outside construction such as asphalt paving companies that mainly do residential driveways start working? All work is outside. We have a very short season to begin with not to mention having to deal with Mother Nature. We are outside the entire time on the job and there is no need to have any contact with the homeowner or asphalt plant employee. Our employees are able to social distance since they are outside and most driveways are at least 10’ wide. Right now, we are deemed non-essential even though golf courses, marinas and boat launches are now open.

Kelly Davis: When will schools open? Will it be soon or not until fall? Thanks.

DeAnna Passantino: What is the plan to reopen? How many phases will there be? Who are the next set of essential workers that will be going back?

Tiffany Kichen: Just want to know when and how you will reopen Rochester?

Heidi Everling: Will schools be opening before the end of the school year? If so how can you ensure teachers, students and staff are kept safe? And how will you enforce that if schools aren’t following directives? Thanks in advance for your efforts and hard work! 

Cheri K Stephens: Barbershops and salons need to open, one client at a time. Sanitation standards are as high as medical offices-all licensed barbers have taken specialized training for sanitation already. People are looking rough and most barbershops can’t afford to keep closed much longer.

Ashley Lee: What about tanning salons? These need to re open as well it’s one person per room and social distancing can occur, very little transaction between the business and customer, the sunlight maybe the very best thing!

Hannah Miller: I When do you think things will at least have a soft opening?

Gina Sauro: First I would like to thank everyone for their hard work during this time! My question is about real-estate. When does Mr. Duffy believe real estate can reopen private showings of homes? Of course with proper precautions such as a mask. As we all know last year there was more demand for houses than supply, therefore there are many people still looking for a home! Thank you so much!

Shari Cretelle McVay: Do you foresee restaurants opening, even on a limited basis anytime soon?

Amber Day: Hi I’m a teacher at East High School. How will schools start to reopen? Will we start with elementary first and then move on to middle/high school? Will we close lunchrooms and have students eat in the classrooms? Will middle/high school students still have passing periods or will they be in the same classroom all day to lower the contact between students? Will class sizes be smaller?

Jody Rieflin: Can boarding stables allow people to ride their horses if it’s one at a time alone?

Patrick Dwyer: We have been in Florida for the winter. My husband and I have been social distancing and wearing masks when out. We started five weeks ago. When do you advise for us to come back? 

Renee, Goodrell-Rivera: Can you please help Realtors and give them guidance on what we can and can not do for our clients? What about showing houses? How can we do that?

Melissa French:  Will everyone get the antibody test in our area before we open back up? Or is it just random testing that will be done?

Anonymous: Currently the NY stay at home order goes through 5/15. Gov. Cuomo mentioned that in order to reopen we would need to see 14 consecutive days of declining COVID cases. Can you cover the benchmarks being monitored for our region to reopen?

Kathleen Keller Kalke-Zimmer: Our representatives in Albany are not up to the task?

John: If with all this new antibody testing and all other testing showing more and more people have already be exposed to this virus, and the deaths rate and exposure rate is now factored to be lower then ever before, why are we still closed?

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