BUFFALO, N.Y. — Governor Andrew Cuomo announced last week that Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul will lead the effort in reopening the economy in Western New York. Monday evening, 2 On Your Side spoke exclusively with the lieutenant governor about what this will look like.
Hochul says Western New York's coronavirus numbers are leveling off in a positive way, although she says there are a few more cases then the state would like to see.
Cuomo announced earlier in the day that certain regions of the state can reopen some industries, such as construction and manufacturing, on May 15.
2 On Your Side's Michael Wooten asked the lieutenant governor if she believes the New York State on PAUSE order would be extended past that date here in Western New York. Hochul says there isn't a determination at this time; however, she says Western New York will be opening at a different time frame than New York City, which was more heavily impacted by the coronavirus.
Hochul says New York State will continue to monitor the healthcare trends in each region, along with how the hospitals are handling new cases, and this information will continue to guide the state.
The lieutenant governor says the state's focus right now is on how to reopen construction and manufacturing. Hochul says she has been doing a lot of outreach with people in business communities to determine what standards they need to meet in order to reopen. This includes what protocols businesses will need to have in place to make employees and customers feel comfortable and secure.
Hochul stresses that it's important to make sure that people are adhering to new protocols, such as social distancing and wearing masks, and identifying what is the safest and best way to make workplaces safe. The lieutenant governor could not provide more specifics about these protocols, but says more information will be made available in due time.
During this discussion the topic of reopening schools was also addressed. Hochul says the state is watching the situation very closely, and the governor will make an announcement soon about the reopening of schools, most likely before May 15. She says local school districts may be looking at the option of summer school, but she did not provide any specifics.
At this time New York officials have not discussed setting up isolation facilities with the local hospitality industry here in Western New York; however, she says it is an important thing to consider if we see a peak of COVID-19 cases.
Hochul says she is also having conversations about what the new Western New York will look like when the pandemic is over. She says she is looking at what opportunities are here that haven't been thought of before and to play into our strengths such as manufacturing.
Hochul says the state will emerge stronger than before if we keep the momentum going forward and keep the spread at a minimum.