County Executive: More To Cuomo’s COVID-19 Fines Than Meets The Eye

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MAYVILLE — Chautauqua County Executive P.J. Wendel says there’s a lot more than meets the eye to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s statement that state COVID-19 “hot spots” could face large daily fines.

Wendel reacted in a conversation with WNYNewsNow Monday morning.

“There’s a lot more to this, are we fining the towns, are we fining the county, or are we fining a zip code,” Wendel asked. “A lot of it pertains to downstate areas. There’s a lot more to it. It’s not really as black and white as it seems to the Governor’s office.”

While Cuomo hasn’t said where he could implement the fines, speculation by officials and some media is that Cuomo was referring to the New York City area.

Locally, Wendel said enforcement has not been an issue.

“What we’ve been doing has been working. Our enforcement has been working,” Wendel said. “We have flattened the curve.”

“We don’t know exactly where the Governor is coming from on this, but we will enforce greater than we have (if needed).”

As an example, Wendel said the county had testing at Fieldbrook Foods within 24 hours of learning of the increase in positive numbers.

Every day, he said, the county receives complaints about businesses not in compliance with health department and state regulations. Daily, the county contacts local police with the jurisdiction of the business in question and law enforcement investigates, Wendel said.

One issue is how the testing is being counted, he said,

“The problem is are we looking at the number of infected as to what we are testing or the number of infected to the population,” Wendel wondered.

He said there are currently roughly 700 cases in a population of about 127,000 people.

Wendel admits the situation is, and has been from the beginning, in flux because of Cuomo’s changes in statements.

“The problem is the Governor will make a statement during a press conference and three days later we have the guidance,” he said.

“When things are said, whether it’s in a press conference or a press release, it’s not always clear-cut,” Wendel said. “That’s been the case since day one.”


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