Local officials urge continued caution on reopening plan

May 1, 2020

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello in a Zoom video call with reporters on Friday.

Rochester area leaders are urging a cautious approach in reopening businesses and other organizations, even as they also indicate that steps taken so far have helped keep the coronavirus from overwhelming the area’s hospitals.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, the county’s Commissioner of Public Health, Dr. Michael Mendoza, and Rochester Chamber of Commerce President Bob Duffy all say that while progress has been made in containing the virus, the phased-in reopening of the state, which is being led by Governor Andrew Cuomo, is the right approach.

It’s anticipated that the state could begin to allow some construction and manufacturing to begin after May 15.  But during a video chat Friday with reporters, Duffy declined to predict when the bulk of retail and other businesses might get back on track.

“It would be premature to say anything; the most important thing we could do is not raise or lower expectations because we don’t know. It clearly is going to be in the hands of the governor; he will make that announcement when he’s ready and how he’s looking at this whole situation, it’s driven by data and analytics,” Duffy said.

Duffy has been appointed as an adviser to Cuomo on what kinds of businesses and other organizations in the Rochester-Finger Lakes region may be ready to reopen.

Protesters who gathered in downtown Rochester Friday calling for a faster reopening of area businesses.
Credit David Andreatta/CITY Newspaper

The comments by the three leaders came on a day when there were protests in some cities around the state including Rochester, from people who want the reopening to happen more quickly. That included vehicles circling part of downtown Rochester, honking horns and carrying signs, and some people protesting near the county office building on W. Main Street.

Bello said he understands the frustration a lot of people have right now, but he said the cautious approach is the best one right now.

“Making sure that we take those steps on the one hand to start reopening the economy and do it as quickly but as safely as we can. And the reason why you need to do it as safely as you can is so that you avoid that second spike or another spike later on, and then it undoes all the efforts we have,” Bello said.

Mendoza said that the hospital systems in Rochester have been able to avoid an overwhelming surge because of the social distancing and other practices that have proven effective.

“So that’s the challenge we have to face, and I’d be lying to you if I said it was easy, because this is new to all of us, but I do think that if we can take some solace in the really that we’ve gotten this far, through caution and patience, I do believe that a little bit more of this will give us the best outcome in the end,” Mendoza told reporters.

Here is the full video from Friday's Zoom call with local leaders: