Created: June 24, 2021 06:19 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — New York State’s COVID-19 State of Emergency is officially over.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s remaining emergency pandemic powers expired Thursday, 15 months after COVID-19 essentially shut down New York. Nearly 54,000 New Yorkers have died.
“We still have to vaccinate people especially young people,” Gov. Cuomo said this week, “but the emergency is over.”
Most of the restrictions implemented have ended but private businesses can still mandate masks and mask-wearing may still be required on public transit, in schools, healthcare settings, prisons and jails, nursing homes, homeless shelters and large-scale indoor event venues.
Locally, Monroe County Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza says he hasn’t had much time to reflect yet but he is grateful.
“It was 15 months ago when our lives as we know them, were turned upside down. I think we have to pause and reflect and really celebrate as a community what we've accomplished together,” he told News10NBC.
Dr. Mendoza admits at times, communication was probably the biggest challenge.
“My approach has always been, I'd rather get information out there as we know it as transparently as possible so that if we make a miss-cue, I can come back later and say we learned something different and this is what it looks like,” he said, “by and large, we took it all in stride and we learned together and we made changes together and they worked. We lost a number of people in this community but we've saved a lot of lives.”
The work is not over though.
“We still have a lot of vaccination to do, we’ve got a lot of pockets in our community who are not quite up to where they want them to be so that we can look ahead to the fall and be as prepared as we possibly can for whatever may come,” Dr. Mendoza said.
The other big question is schools, will they be back open full-time in the fall? Will kids be able to be mask-less?
“We will wait and see because right now it's still the state’s call and if the state follows through and says local authorities can make that call then we will re-evaluate and will do so in the same way we've done with everything… by looking at the data and how things are going and whether we need to do any testing, I mean a whole host of questions remain unanswered right now,” Dr. Mendoza explained.
Monroe County has received roughly $140 million in federal recovery grants. County Executive Adam Bello told News10NBC discussions are underway as to how that money is going to be used.
“I don't want those dollars to be invested here in like a one-shot deal, it needs to be part of a greater plan of investments,” Bello said.
Bello said the areas he’s considering are economic and workforce development, health and wellness programs, infrastructure, broadband expansion and the parks system.
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