Steuben County anticipating Phase 2 next week, discouraging Memorial Day BBQs

Corning Bureau

STEUBEN COUNTY, N.Y. (WETM) – Officials in Steuben County are asking people to avoid having large Memorial Day weekend barbecues and to continue adhering to social distancing guidelines during the holiday.

County Manager Jack Wheeler said during a conference call on Friday afternoon that while Memorial Day is an important holiday to observe in honor of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, “we have to do it a different way this year.”

Families are encouraged to have small picnics at home with their households but are asked to not have large gatherings. Because the region is close to moving to a new phase, the county is hoping that avoiding large gatherings will help keep their numbers low.

When asked about the Hornell Memorial Day Parade, which was revived after an earlier cancelation, Wheeler said that the county worked with the city to devise a proper plan that includes no gathering on the street and no participants leaving their cars.

Anyone who wishes to watch the parade is asked to watch from their lawn.

The American Legion will also be streaming a service online for those who would like to watch.

In terms of reopening, Wheeler anticipates that the Southern Tier region will move to phase two, which includes services such as barbershops, next Friday, May 29. Wheeler says that phase one has gone “very smoothly” and that they and on a “very good track” for May 29.

So far the county has received no guidance from the governor’s office regarding phase two, but that they anticipate it coming next week.

A major part of reopening was having adequate testing, something the county says they are set with. However, nursing homes and adult care facilities in the area have raised concerns regarding the governor’s requirement to have two tests done a week for each staff member.

Wheeler said that his concerns about labs being backed up are in fact happening and that the county is looking for other labs who can process tests.

One adult care facility told 18 News that they can not afford to handle the number of tests required by the governor. Steuben County Public Health Director Darlene Smith says that the best option for nurses is for their health insurance to cover the test, but if they can not do so then the only option is for the facility to bear the cost.

Wheeler says that Steuben County can not afford to assist with those payments, saying they’ve received very little funding from the CARES Act, and whatever funding they did receive went into personal protective equipment and overtime for nurses.

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