JAMESTOWN – As most COVID-19 government mandates are lifted in New York State, Chautauqua County’s Executive says the next hurdle the area faces is getting people back to work.
With the state reaching its goal of 70 percent vaccinations, and local COVID-19 cases limited to just 7 active cases, Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel tells WNY News Now he is thankful for the progress made and is ready for a return to normal.
“I can’t say enough to everybody; my teams in the county, our county workforce, first responders, everybody in Chautauqua County that’s helped us get to this point and that’s made us through,” said Wendel.
Wendel credits the County’s low number of cases on the vaccine’s success. Right now, 56 percent of Chautauqua County residents have at least one dose of a vaccine, but Wendel believes that the number may be higher due to people who get their vaccines outside of New York not being accounted for.
“We’re very confident that those numbers are much higher, but until our residents reach out and register, we’re not gonna fully know,” said Wendel.
If you were vaccinated in another state, Wendel asks that you reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to let them know that you’re vaccinated.
The challenge now, according to Wendel, is getting people back to work.
The labor shortage, many believe, is caused by the increased unemployment benefits, a problem which State Senator George Borrello is trying to fight with proposed legislation.
“Really we want to get people in the county back to work and get the county back to what it’s known for… it’s our tourism, our hospitality, and a solid, solid workforce,” said Wendel.
Tourism to Lake Chautauqua this summer, he believes will help bring back the local economy.
Looking towards the fall, Wendel wants to push for a return to normal education. As a former teacher, he says that learning virtually is not ideal for children.
“We need to make sure our children are educated properly, getting them back without remote learning, in person,” said Wendel.