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If Cuomo Is Serious, He Should Help Health Departments Meet His Demands

It’s difficult to see how county health departments statewide are going to administer Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s newest travel quarantine plan without additional help from the state.

Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced New York is ending its two-week travel quarantines for those coming to New York from states with high numbers of COVID-19 cases. Now, if a traveler from outside of New York state wants to avoid the 14-day quarantine, they have to test negative twice for COVID-19 — once three days before arriving in New York and then on the fourth day after they come to New York and have been quarantining for the previous three days.

We just don’t see how Chautauqua County can handle more testing and tracing. It was less than three weeks ago that Christine Schuyler, county health and human services director, asked the County Legislature to add more temporary staff to help the Health Department through the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this year the county Legislature did agree to the addition of five temporary nurses. So far, the county Health Department has been able to hire one full-time and one part-time.

Adding the extra positions would have cost the county about $284,000, and legislators were uneasy with adding the new positions without knowing if the federal government was going to approve a new round of COVID-19 aid to states and localities.

If the county is indeed that taxed — and we have no reason to believe it isn’t — then the state is going to have to provide some sort of assistance to health departments to comply with this order.

Thus far, Cuomo has been content to lecture local health departments from afar about the need to make people comply with state mandates. Stern lectures only go so far, though. If the governor is serious, then he should find a way to help health departments meet his demands. If he doesn’t, his next lecture should be to the man staring back at the governor in his bathroom mirror.

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