DUNKIRK – The Democrat Candidate for Chautauqua County Executive says he is concerned with the current leaderships “lack of transparency” and timeliness in addressing the COVID-19 outbreak at Fieldbrook Foods in Dunkirk.
Richard Morrisroe, in an interview with WNYNewsNow Tuesday morning, questioned his opponent, Executive PJ Wendel’s ability to keep the public informed about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Morrisroe says the public deserves to know what happened at the Fieldbrook Farms plant within days, not weeks.
“There is no such thing as going overboard in communicating with the public about preventable threats to their health.” Morrisroe said. “The time to prepare for a crisis is before it happens. The unelected County Executive had more than five months to plan for a county COVID cluster and his lack of transparency and leadership is very troubling.”
The COVID-19 cluster comes weeks ahead of the new school year where thousands of children will be back in classrooms for the first time since March.
The candidate is also calling for free rapid testing for every public-school employee and student ahead of the new school year.
“I call on PJ Wendel to provide free, rapid testing for every public-school student and employee before school starts. We cannot afford to play fast and loose with this virus,” he said.
Morrisroe outlined steps he would have taken to address the public health crisis as County Executive:
- Dispatch a SWAT team of public health inspectors for onsite inspection at Fieldbrook within 24 hours of confirmed cases at the plant and prepare to suspend operations if the doors weren’t open for inspection and employees were not provided with resources relating to the virus, including Spanish speakers and translation services.
- Hold a public information session announcing county wide testing within 48 hours and sharing information vital to the public who may have encountered the infected individual.
- Coordinate with regional county executives and state officials on best practices for testing and contract tracing, PPE supplies.
- Redirect county personnel to the County Department of Health in coordination with union representatives and hire temporary contract tracers and frontline personnel if there are still not enough resources to stop the spread of the virus.
- Ensure that every frontline worker, even temporary workers, have health insurance, rapid testing, and worker protections.
- Provide every public school employee and student with free rapid testing.