Lt. Gov. Hochul talks rising nursing home infection rates, zone restrictions


ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) — New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul joined 18 News at 5 Wednesday evening to update Southern Tier residents on the war against COVID-19.

With an increase of positive coronavirus cases and deaths in Southern Tier nursing homes, Lt. Gov. Hochul shared what the state is doing to help alleviate the rising infection rate within the facilities.

This has been one of our highest priorities, to ensure that people are tested before they even go into a nursing home. That’s a protocol that has been in place and I think it’s protected and saved many lives. We also want to make sure that there’s regular testing of staff there. We always knew that that was a way that people could be infected—with coming from the outside—and so that’s something we’ve been focused on as well. Also, prioritizing them for vaccination. This is really a huge development to know that literally in two weeks, we’ll be able to administer a life-saving vaccine to the vast majority of nursing home residents and staff, and they’ll be on the front line of people protected and it’ll be able to change the whole experience of being in a nursing home, which has been really horrific. The lockdowns that were necessary to save lives have been hard, taking an emotional toll. So this is a good news story today.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul

Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised the Southern Tier for having a low infection rate. Yet parts of Chemung County are still in the orange zone. 18 News asked the lieutenant governor if anything is being done to help the struggling businesses that remain closed under the zone restrictions.

First of all, we’re asking for the federal government to reinstate some of the Paycheck Protection Programs that were so successful. I mean, that was money that was going directly to small businesses… As well as unemployment programs that were given out to, not just unemployed workers, but also, if you were a sole proprietor, you were able to be eligible for this. So a lot of those programs are expiring, some expire at the end of this month. So we’re focused on making sure that that federal money is delivered and it should be coming. We don’t know when, but we really hope that that’ll be the case, that they’ll listen to us and get that money out there. But in the meantime, I spent a lot of time in the Southern Tier. I was down in the communities—Watkins Glen, Owego and Norwich—just yesterday, checking in on the small businesses and every one of us has a role to play to help them stay alive by supporting them, opening up our pocketbooks and our wallets and making sure that they have money to get through this holiday season. This is a really make or break time for them and all of us can help them by buying gift cards and shopping locally.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul

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