October 22, 2021

Cortland begins Phase 2 amid confusion

Tompkins, Cayuga delay coronavirus reopening

Metro Creative Connection

Editor’s note: This report was updated to reflect Tompkins County’s announcement to open Friday afternoon.

Tompkins and Cayuga counties announced they would delay the start of the Phase 2 reopening process — which was supposed to begin today — following confusion from a comment Gov. Andrew Cuomo made Thursday afternoon.

Cortland County officials said the county would proceed with reopening.

For businesses

Cortland County businesses having difficulty accessing the safety template or completing their affirmation document can call the county at 753-5049 for assistance between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. weekdays.

“Cortland County, like surrounding counties, has done everything to meet the required benchmarks to begin the Phase 2 re-opening,” said Legislature Chairman Paul Heider (R-Cuyler, Solon, Truxton). “The road to economic recovery in Central New York will be a long one and we must begin moving forward immediately.”

“We seem to be getting a bit of mixed messages from the state,” said Eric Mulvihill, clerk of the Legislature, but he had little further information this morning. However, the county had received the guidance Thursday night that businesses need to begin reopening and planned to post it to the county’s website today.

Cortland County, like Cayuga County, is in the Central New York Region, which announced earlier this week it had met all the benchmarks to reopen. Tompkins County is in the Southern Tier Region, which also had met the metrics.

Still, Tompkins County, which also reported it had received the guidance for businesses, announced a delay, later reversing itself to open at 1 p.m.

“We are all eager for our economy to get back on track,” Tompkins County Legislature Chairwoman Leslyn McBean-Clairborne said. “While we exuberantly applaud this phase of opening, to be able to go to our hairdressers and barbers and for many of us to be with each other again at work, we cannot be complacent and careless as to not follow the guidance to keep us safe and halt further spread of COVID-19.”

“Tompkins County residents have done everything expected of them and should all be proud of efforts thus far,” Tompkins County Administrator Jason Molino said. “Because of these efforts we have kept the spread low and we’ve saved lives.”

However, officials from that county took part in a conference call where state officials confirmed to them that Phase 2 would be delayed pending Cuomo’s media briefing today.

Tompkins officials said they had no further information on what additional data is being reviewed by the state, just that state officials said the governor has asked public health experts to review state-wide data.

“Keeping our public healthy and safe continues to be our most important goal,” said Tompkins Public Health Director Frank Kruppa. “We are confident about our local infection and hospitalization rates staying low. We will continue to work with our community and work to keep the public informed while we move through the process of reopening.”

In Cayuga County, Legislature Chairwoman Aileen McNabb-Coleman told The Citizen of Auburn the county wouldn’t begin Phase 2 until it had guidance from the state, which it hadn’t received late Thursday, although she had been informed the next stage would start on or about June 1, or Monday.

However, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon told Syracuse.com that his county would proceed to the next stage today, and he hadn’t heard about a state review forcing a delay. And Madison County’s Board of Supervisors Chairman John Becker told NewsChannel 9 that his county would reopen today regardless of the governor’s announcement.

Jumping the gun could entail some risk, said Mulvihill, the clerk of the Cortland County Legislature, particularly for businesses that require state licenses. “If the state chooses to enforce the delay, we can’t protect those people,” he said.