'We are very worried about a surge. If we were to reopen like that, just snap the fingers and reopen, we would have a surge. I guarantee it,' Mark Poloncarz said
Now that Governor Andrew Cuomo has officially announced reopening will be done on a regional basis, many questions remain, such as: When will it happen, and how?
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said he's already in conversation with Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, who's leading the effort for Western New York.
"As she noted, we will not keep Erie County and Western New York closed any one day more than we need to, but we also won't open it up any day earlier until it's right," Poloncarz said.
Poloncarz explained reopening Western New York likely won't happen at all once.
"We all wanna get back to business as usual but we have to do it in such a safe manner which will probably mean a rolling opening of the community," Poloncarz said.
Dr. Thomas Russo, the chief of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo, said the regional approach makes sense.
"We should only reopen when we get our cases down to zero, or as close to zero as possible," Dr. Russo said, "and have the necessary amount of testing to be able to identify new cases if they arise and public health support to do contact tracing to really minimize a resurgence of new cases."
Poloncarz stressed, "We are very worried about a surge. If we were to reopen like that, just snap the fingers and reopen, we would have a surge, I guarantee it."
Even when state government and public health officials deem it appropriate to reopen, preventing further spread of the coronavirus will likely remain a top priority.
Dr. Russo told 2 on Your Side, "I see that when we're ready to reopen, I see a world with many, many people, and hopefully everyone wearing masks.
"I think that's gonna be one of the critical public health measures that's gonna enable us to expand the types of things we're doing, increasing interactions and minimizing the risks of the resurgence of new cases with the coronavirus."
When asked what it would take to reopen Western New York, Hochul added, "We need to keep an eye on the numbers, the test-positive cases, the number of hospitalizations or hospital capacity."Right now in Erie County, we're still seeing a gradual increase in the number of positive cases, we've expanded testing, which is also important. So, I want to see a flattening and a downward trajectory, first of all, so this will be driven by the data, because public health is our number one priority."