O'Hearn details reopening plan
SCHUYLER COUNTY--Schuyler County Administrator Tim O'Hearn updated residents and businesses Friday, May 15 as the county begins Phase One reopening. Beginning on Friday, Schuyler County along with the rest of the Southern Tier, was allowed to reopen construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, select retail and curbside pickup, agriculture, forestry and fishing industries from the COVID-19 restrictions.
"While the battle is far from over, we are making headway and limiting the spread (COVID-19)," O'Hearn said in his public briefing. "This has not been easy nor has it come without great sacrifice."
Along with detailing what kind of businesses can reopen, O'Hearn also showed the steps that local businesses will have to go through to be authorized to reopen by the state.
"This is a state-wide process that is not unique to any one county," O'Hearn said.
Along with owners and operators signing documents agreeing to follow social distancing, new cleaning guidelines and more, O'Hearn said that local businesses must also develop a publicly available safety plan for which the state has provided a template that business owners can then customize to their own needs.
For anyone set to go back to work, O'Hearn urged them to get tested for COVID-19 first.
"(We are) encouraging front line staff to be tested before returning to work," O'Hearn stated. "There is no cost for anyone who wants testing, insurance covers 100 percent (and for people) without insurance (Schuyler) Hospital has other funding sources so there is no charge."
O'Hearn went on to thank Schuyler Hospital and the greater Cayuga Health System for the service they provided during the pandemic.
"(Schuyler Hospital and the Cayuga Health System have been a) tremendous resource in increasing our testing capacity and they are there to address any health care need we have," O'Hearn said. "We are grateful for them as a community partner."
In Schuyler as of May 14 there have been 10 positive tests, nine of whom have recovered with no current hospitalizations and no deaths. There have been a total of 718 total negative tests and 19 people currently in self-isolation.
"We, like every county in the state, have taken steps to protect the health of our community and comply with executive orders from the governor," O'Hearn mentioned.
He added that, "This is a fluid situation, we are in uncharted, unprecedented times. Understand we need to be flexible and change as information comes forward. Bottom line, we are driven by the state with our response."
With the state measuring the status of counties in 14-day increments, the next two weeks will determine if the Southern Tier region can enter into Phase Two of reopening, which would involve reopening retail and real estate among other services.
However, to enter Phase Two O'Hearn said it is incredibly important residents of Schuyler County still practice social distancing, wear masks in public along with other precautions.
"I want to thank the community, speak to the efficacy of our efforts (and) our ability to rise to the challenge," O'Hearn commented. "Social distancing, limiting gatherings, (wearing masks) have all been effective in contributing to the great shape the region is in."
The administrator went on to thank county employees who worked remotely to provide the best level of service to residents as they could.
"Many of our staff who have been on the front lines are tired but have been unwavering," O'Hearn said.
Going forward, O'Hearn said he will continue to coordinate on a near daily basis with other county administrators in the Southern Tier region and the governor's office to ensure Phase One continues into Phase Two.