Southern Tier Counties Seek “Sub-regional” Reopening

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MAYVILLE – Officials in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany County are seeking to reopen as a sub-region, separate from the Buffalo Metro area.

Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel, in an phone interview with WNYNewsNow Friday evening, said after speaking with Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, and others on the Western New York “Control Board,” he is confident state officials will hear his call.

“I think the three-county united front is a good collaboration,” explained Wendel. “Jim Malatras (the President of the State University of New York Empire State College) was on the control room call today and he probably has the closest ear of the Governor, so we are in the right direction. They are all working for us trying to move in a forward manner.”

During the county’s COVID-19 weekly press conference update earlier Friday, Wendel announced the plan that would create a “sub-region” and evaluate the metrics independently from other areas in Western New York.

Wendel said as of Friday Chautauqua County meets all seven of the state’s reopening requirement metrics, when judged independently.

The Executive is now working with leaders in the other two counties to create a written plan to submit to the regional “Control Board” for review. Once the plan is accepted, he hopes to begin reopening under phase one.

“If we are given the approval to get to phase one, we can get there as soon as needed,” he explained. “We are going to hopefully drive this home, we have the ear of the Governor I was told, and we are going to continue pushing forward; doing so in a reasonable and safe manner.”

On Thursday, the county executive extended his emergency declaration for another 30 days. Wendel says if reopening begins, he could cancel the order. The primary purpose of the extension, according to Wendel, is to allow the county to apply for FEMA funding.

As of Friday evening, there are nine active cases of COVID-19 in Chautauqua County, with 46 total, 33 recovered and four deaths related to the virus outbreak.


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