ALBANY – In New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s opinion, the reason Western New York is experiencing an increase in COVID-19 activity is because residents do not fear the virus like those living in NYC.
Cuomo spoke during a press conference briefing on Wednesday afternoon in Albany.
He says, in his personal opinion, that areas that were not directly impacted by COVID-19 infections early on in the pandemic feel like they are “immune” to the virus.
“Western New York read about New York City, they read about Long Island, they watched it on the TV news, but the numbers were never as bad in Western New York, and you want people to change dramatically their behavior, for me to make these dramatic changes in behavior I have to believe this is real, and it wasn’t real, because it wasn’t real to me,” said Cuomo. “I get it was real New York City, but I’m in Buffalo, Buffalo is much different than New York City, and it wasn’t real to me.”
Cuomo says fear is what changed people’s behavior, making them take action to contain the outbreak.
“You wear the masks because you’re afraid of COVID and because you’re concerned about other people, but because you think it’s real, because it is real for you,” furthered Cuomo. “Western New York never felt that same level of reality.”
The Governor forecasts a “tremendous spike” in cases following the Thanksgiving holiday.
“If you don’t have a real fear about COVID you are going to come together,” Cuomo said.
He urged New Yorkers to take steps to protect themselves this holiday, by not visiting family in person.
Cuomo announced that parts of Erie County are now listed under an “orange zone” of containment as the infection rate continues to rise. Under the new designation, residential and non-residential gatherings cannot have more than 10 people and indoor dining at restaurants and bars are prohibited.
Additionally, high-risk, non-essential businesses, like gyms, hair salons and personal care services are closed. Schools will also be forced to remote learning.
Houses of worship may still operate in-person services, but Cuomo says with fewer people.
According to the state, the facility’s capacity must be the lesser of these two options: 3 percent of the maximum capacity, or a maximum of 25 people.
Currently, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties are not impacted by the restrictions.