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Lawmakers respond to Cuomo's regional reopening approach

Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul will be overseeing the reopening of Western New York.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Tuesday Governor Andrew Cuomo announced reopening decisions in New York State will be made on a regional basis. It's welcome news to some lawmakers on both sides. 

"Even though we're one state, we're different in a lot of ways from other parts of the state so I think a regional approach is the right way to go," said New York State Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes.

New York State Senator Robert Ortt said, "I think we can protect lives and we can also protect livelihoods. I think we can do this in a way that takes into account the social distancing and the public health protections." 

As to when reopening will happen, that's still to be determined. However, it will likely take time. 

"At the end of the day, it's all gonna be based on what the data says," said Peoples-Stokes, who represents New York's 141st Assembly District. 

With Erie and Niagara Counties still recording new hospitalizations and deaths, some lawmakers believe locally we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves. 

Assemblymember Monica Wallace, who represents New York's 143rd Assembly District, told 2 On Your Side, "Erie County is not out of the woods yet." 

She added, "We need to be thoughtful about what we're going to open, how we're going to open it, and be mindful that we don't want hordes of people coming from different parts of the state to the part that then is open because that could lead to further infection." 

Ortt said by early May, there will ideally be a plan in place. He believes there should be parameters on which some businesses and industries can open safely. 

Nonetheless, even when that time comes, reopening doesn't necessarily mean returning to normalcy. 

"Things are gonna look different and I think we need to recognize that and understand that we're gonna have to go back to some economic activity, while at the same time understanding that this virus will still be out there in some way, shape or form and that's why we're gonna need to take precautions to do so," said Ortt. 

Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul will be overseeing the reopening of Western New York. 

Hochul told 2 On Your Side, "We need to keep an eye on the numbers, the positive cases, the number of hospitalizations or hospital capacity. Right now in Erie County, we're still seeing a gradual increase in the number of positive cases, we've expanded testing, which is also important. So, I want to see a flattening and a downward trajectory, first of all, so this will be driven by the data, because public health is our number one priority."

She added, "We actually wanted to break-off our recovery separate from New York City, what's going on downstate because if we don't see a spike, and it's a rolling wave, if this wave doesn't crest and go higher in Western New York, there's no reason why we actually wouldn't be ahead of New York City in terms of starting to loosen the tight controls that are put on our local economy."

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