This morning Chemung County Executive Chris Moss provided members of the Legislature with an extremely thorough update of matters related to COVID-19 and the reopening of our community.
I am sharing Moss’ update on this forum with his permission:
Local Infection Rate
The overall rate of positive infections continues to decrease throughout not only Chemung County but the Southern Tier Region, to which we are assigned. We have definitely flattened the curve and now the main focus involving public health safety is about avoiding clusters and having appropriate tracing if we do discover clusters or a spike in the numbers. Pete Buzzetti and his team continue to do a phenomenal job on a daily basis involving the overall pandemic.
Chemung County will be opening Park Station for camping on 06/15/2020. The county uses a company called Reserve America who handles reservations for Park Station. The majority of our 40 campsites have already been booked for the summer, as bookings started previous to the corona virus outbreak. Several new protocols involving cleaning and disinfecting, new signage and new waivers have all had to be completed in order to open the campground. One of the main obstacles for opening the beach are the guidelines provided by the state. Multiple cleanings and disinfections to bathrooms, changing rooms, sanitation stations and etc. have to be conducted on a routine basis. The county has been able to secure the correct number of lifeguards and had to bring them on this week in order to secure them or they would have been looking for other jobs. The park is currently open for fishing, hiking and picnicking. The main pavilions at Harris Hill and Park Station remain closed via the 10 person maximum gathering Executive Order signed by the Governor.
The county has received multiple inquiries about conducting horse shows at the Chemung County Fairgrounds. Unfortunately, information put out by the New York State Agricultural & Markets Department led many individuals to believe horse shows are currently permitted, however, those are guidelines. Horse shows will not be permitted until we enter Phase 4. I confirmed this information with the Governor’s Office.
After meeting with City Manager Mike Collins and Elmira Downtown Development (EDD) Director Jennifer Herrick, and reviewing and amending their safety plan for Wisner Market, the county has decided to allow them to operate. The first market will be tomorrow, 06/11/2020. The entire market will be cordoned off with temporary fencing and a maximum of 250 people will be allowed within the fenced in area. All food must be to go, no on-site bathrooms, multiple portable sanitation stations erected and EDD staff is responsible for policing the various restrictions currently placed on the event. On the 18th we will allow outdoor dining outside the perimeter of the fencing with tables being set up via standards released by the Governor’s Office pertaining to outdoor dining. Public Health officials will monitor both weeks as we move forward.
High School Graduation
I (Moss) have had multiple meetings with Elmira, Elmira Heights, Horseheads, Notre Dame and Twin Tiers Christian Academy in reference to the graduation ceremonies. Although we have been given authority for outdoor ceremonies with 150 persons, we’re lobbying the Governor’s Office to increase those numbers with appropriate social distancing protocols in place.
Sales Tax Revenue
Our sales tax revenue is approximately 2 million dollars lower than the same time period last year, which is an approximate 8.6% decrease. Those numbers do include the month of May. The county is working with NYSAC on projecting what the yearly numbers may look like, but it is very unclear at this time. Obviously as we continue to reopen the economy, I (Moss) am hoping these numbers improve and am still working with our federal partners in hopes that the next stimulus will assist local municipalities.
The county continues to await guidelines from the Governor’s Office involving additional outdoor activities, such as baseball and softball, which several of our local municipalities would like to see so they can schedule an abbreviated season. Hopefully that information is forthcoming.
The county is also awaiting the Governor’s Office to give us a date on the reopening of our local DMV Office. We are being advised that initial reopening around the state would be by appointment only, which we are ready for as I.T. has written a program which includes a scheduling component.
Chips & AIM Funding
At this time it appears the county will receive no less than 80% of its CHIPs funding this year. There has not been a decision on AIM finding yet, but the county is anticipating a 20% reduction.
Please let me know if you have any questions about these or other issues. County Executive Moss, County Health Director Pete Buzzetti, County Communications Director Vinnie Azzarelli and others have done a very good job trying to keep the Legislature and public updated since the onset of COVID in March. If I cannot answer your question, I will pass it along to one of them who will likely be able to help.