Elected officials in the North Country say regional testing will be key as they make a plan to move forward and reopen. Wednesday, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik addressed some of the challenges they’re facing in doing so.
“One of the most important things are the tests,” said Mark Henry, Clinton County legislator. “We do need access to those tests so we can meet the governor’s guidelines, and we are prepared to do our part to ensure this entire region moves forward.”
Access to testing for COVID-19 remains a battle for local and county officials as they work to reopen their economies while balancing safety as the top priority.
Stefanik serves on the President’s reopening task force, as well as a bipartisan task force focused on the northeast region. She says language in the initial relief bill wasn’t geared toward rural communities, which will be critical in the next relief package.
“My big priority is making sure for cities, the same thing applies in the counties,” Stefanik said. “We prefer a revenue based way of calculating it because I have rural counties in this district compared to other parts of the state.”
According to Stefanik, CVPH was cleared Tuesday to perform elective surgeries. She also says the USDA is working with north country farmers on reimbursing their lost supply which continues to be a big concern, especially in Franklin County.
“Farmers, we need more support for our farmers,” said Andrea Dumas, Franklin County legislator. “They’re continuing to dump milk, I’ve got farmers calling daily saying they’ve dumped so much milk, they’re struggling.”
With summer around the corner, questions still remain on reopening New York beaches. Boat launches and marinas got the go-ahead from the state, and campgrounds can reopen under certain restrictions. Summer tourism fuels the North Country’s economy, but at the same time, some leaders fear it could cause a spike in the region’s relatively low number of cases.
“We want our tourism economy to start getting back on its feet,” said Assemblyman Billy Jones. “That includes bringing in people from outside the area, but we certainly need to continue to stress that they need to do it in a safe manner.”