(WIVB) – Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Sunday that a “control group” made up of Western New York leaders will work together to successfully open Western New York.
Speaking via a Zoom press conference, Hochul said that the control group will be made up of elected officials from Western New York including Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino, Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel, and others.
There are many factors that local leaders need to take into account to determine reopening, including numbers of hospitalizations and the outcome of those patients, Hochul said.
“I know that it’s confusing to the public, but we’re dealing with something that has eluded us for a long time,” Hochul said. “There is a lot out of our control- we adapt very quickly, but this is nothing that anyone has ever experienced in our lifetime.”
If the control group sees the number of coronavirus cases spiking too fast, they will either pause the reopening, or scale back the phase that we’re in.
Hochul added that the area is headed in a more positive direction- Western New York is hitting its tracing and testing metrics.
As of Sunday, Western New York is hitting five out of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s seven benchmarks required to reopen.
However, the rates of hospitalizations and deaths in Western New York still need to come down before the area can successfully reopen.
“We can get there if we continue doing what we’re doing,” Hochul added.
Hochul reiterated that it’s important for Western New Yorkers to continue to practice social distancing and to wear masks in public.
“People really listened to the government, and government officials, stay home, be smart, wear your mask- because of that, there haven’t been a wave that crashed over us,” Hochul explained. “We’re on the right path but were only going to stay on that right path if we do what we’ve been asked to do they have confidence in us that we’ll get it right.”