“Chaos”: Local county leaders voice frustration over Governor’s lack of communication

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(WETM) – “Unprofessional,” “confusion”, and “chaos.” That’s how local county leaders are describing the lead up to phase two when it comes to receiving help from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office.

Chemung County Executive Christopher Moss and Steuben County Manager Jack Wheeler both expressed frustration over the lack of communication from Governor Cuomo’s office regarding guidelines for phase two with just hours left for businesses to prepare.

“I think it’s highly unprofessional, I think it’s just infuriating that we’ve been planning for weeks for phase two trying to answer questions and the Governor’s office can’t even release guidance about the details on this,” said Wheeler.

“We were told (Wednesday) that they’d be out (Wednesday) afternoon and we continue to refresh our phones but as of fine minutes ago when I walked out here the guidelines still aren’t out yet,” said Moss late Thursday afternoon.

Both Moss and Wheeler are expecting a call with the Governor’s office late Thursday evening.

Businesses expected to reopen in Phase Two on Friday include professional services, additional retail, administrative support, real estate, rental/leasing, and finance/insurance offices.

Nail salons, massages, and tattoo parlors will not be included in professional services, according to Moss, but they’re still waiting for the exact guidance.

“One of the things that we’re still waiting for from the Governor’s office is the definition of professional services? What does it include what doesn’t it include? We’re also waiting for the guidelines for all these folks,” said Moss.

“You can’t make it up, it’s so crazy,” added Wheeler.

Guidelines for phase one businesses were posted on Forward.NY.gov but as of 5:45 p.m. on Thursday there was no guidance for phase two. Moss says that businesses preparing to reopen on Friday should follow the guidance offered in phase one such as social distancing and wearing a mask.

Governor Cuomo on Thursday told Alan Chartock of WAMC that reopening may not be as automatic as people thought, saying “we’ll give the experts the data… and if they say we should move forward, we move forward.”

“The Governor can make (a comment) to somebody on the radio but we can’t get a call from the Governor’s office?” exclaimed Moss. “I can tell you on Wednesday, yesterday, we were told by the Governor’s staff that as long as we meet the metrics… unless something horrible happened to our numbers we would be good to go.”

Moss later added that he’d say the lack of communication is “unbelievable, but to be honest with you it’s not.”

“If the Governor can’t have the courtesy to give our region a call and let us know that you know what? We’re opening tomorrow…. If the Governor wants to travel to Elmira, New York and tell us that we can’t open I’ll look forward to meet him.”

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