Local officials pleased Hochul will give them more control over fighting COVID

Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 5:49 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - As COVID positivity rates go up, Governor Hochul says she’ll give more control to local officials.

While she’s not officially reactivating control rooms, where community leaders followed state directives in combating COVID, she is ready to give local officials more power to stop the virus.

Local leaders say that’s exactly what they want to hear.

“There is no rule that you can make that applies equally to Manhattan and Lowville, there just isn’t,” said Lewis County Manager Ryan Piche.

It was a pandemic theme that Piche says the county was living with; orders sent down from former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office that just didn’t apply to the region.

On Tuesday, Hochul said she’ll take a new approach.

“I’ll be giving you the cover you need. I’ll be there to be the ally you need, but I will not be imposing state people and locations on you without consultation,” she said.

“I’m happy to hear that the new governor, you know, certainly seems to understand that and is expressing more willingness to give us the flexibility to do our job and serve the citizens that we know,” said Piche.

Jefferson County Board of Legislators Chairman Scott Gray agrees.

“They seek out what our opinions are and what are thoughts are and what they think best practices will be and then put a policy in place after that,” he said.

The delta variant is causing an uptick in COVID-19 cases across the state - Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties having seen their positivity rates double during August.

Now, all three counties are designated by the CDC as high transmission zones.

While cases continue to spike in the region, both Gray and Piche say they wouldn’t be opposed to collaborating as a control room again because they both agree that bouncing ideas off of each other benefits the region.

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