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Mitrano Questions How Reed Helped People During Pandemic

Editor’s Note: This is the second part of a three-part debate between candidates for the New York State 23rd Congressional District.

The challenger in the race for the New York State 23rd Congressional District believes constituents are worse off following the coronavirus outbreak not just because of the virus, but as a result of what wasn’t done to assist people even before the COVID-19 pandemic started.

Tracy Mitrano, D-Penn Yan, said “pre-existing” conditions already existed in the district because of the insufficient work done by incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, in the areas of health care, education, agriculture, infrastructure and economic development.

“There were some serious problems we had in this district even before the pandemic,” she said. “Look at what happened to education when children had to go home and they weren’t able to learn because there wasn’t any internet.”

Mitrano said it breaks her heart the number of businesses lost that will never come back in the district following the pandemic. She said the district had shortfalls in many areas, which has been highlighted during the pandemic.

“We need health care. We need good education. We need infrastructure, and Mr. Reed has done nothing for any of that,” she said. “Tom Reed has been in this office for 10 years and he’s done nothing to bring us (high-speed internet), which is what this district needs probably more than anything else, to economically revive and thrive. Children lost an entire year of learning because they had no internet.”

Mitrano said, with small businesses on the brink, municipalities in need of assistance and residents in need of additional federal funding to pay the bills, Reed has not been able to help deliver another stimulus package.

“He failed to bring us the relief that we needed and he’s continuing to fail,” she said. “People who need unemployment relief they are suffering and they cannot make ends meet.”

Reed said since the pandemic started his staff and himself have been working with elected officials, hospital personnel and community organizations to provide funding relief, assisting businesses on the Paycheck Protection Program and supplying personal protection equipment to those on the frontlines.

“We have delivered to folks in real time,” Reed said.

Reed said he assisted Brooks Memorial Hospital officials receive $10.4 million and UPMC Chautauqua acquire $17 million in federal relief during the pandemic. He said he helped small businesses in the district receive a portion of $240 million through the Paycheck Protection Program. He added that his staff and himself assisted people and businesses in-person apply for federal stimulus funding through the Paycheck Protection Program and supplied personal protection equipment when medical facilities were in dire need.

“We were able to secure that for them in real time,” he said. “They know we cared about them and we were here 24/7.”

Mitrano countered Reed’s statement about his actions during the pandemic by stating that any decent congressman would have done the same.

“But it’s not extraordinary. It’s your job,” she said. “It’s your job to do constituents services.”

Mitrano said her brother, who lives in a residential care home, contracted the coronavirus from a staff member at the facility. She said the same week her brother was diagnosed with COVID-19, Reed was calling out Gov. Andrew Cuomo about his proposal about staff members being tested twice for the virus at residential and long-term care facilities.

“Why would you go against simple common sense like having staff people tested because you want to fight the governor,” she said.

Reed opposed Mitrano’s statement by saying that he wasn’t against staff members being tested, but he was against Cuomo’s proposal for them to be tested twice.

“What the governor did, he didn’t follow the science and the data. He wanted multiple testing of those staffers,” he said. “What it did was put a significant strain where the scientific data said all we needed was a single test and not multiple test for those staffers that were treating your brother. By putting multiple testing requirements on your brother’s staff, it took testing capacity away from other needed requirements, and other medical staff professional like our hospitals and others attending to other folks that needed that testing capacity that was otherwise being miss allocated by the governor’s non-data based decision.”

Reed said by “calling out” the governor, Cuomo changed his original policy to where staff members were only tested once.

“The governor did the right thing and allocated the testing resources appropriately so more people weren’t killed so testing supplies wasn’t used in an inappropriate basis,” he said.

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