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Editor’s corner: A nearby COVID battle ramps up

It just does not add up.

Within the last week, next-door Gov. Andrew Cuomo was considering putting Pennsylvania on its evolving list of states that are part of a travel advisory. Those locations that are being tied by Cuomo to high coronavirus numbers. New Yorkers who visit those on the list need to quarantine for 14 days.

For some reason, we here are supposed to believe the Commonwealth is at greater risk for COVID-19 than the Empire State. All one has to do is look over the border to Chautauqua County to see this is simply not the case.

While Warren County’s infection numbers remain amazingly low at 60 cases for about 40,000 residents, it is another story for those to the north.

Through Thursday, Chautauqua County — population 127,000 — recorded 924 cases. That is 15 times more than what is here. Making those figures worse, is the fact that when New York state officially began reopening its economy, the cases were at 53.

In the last two weeks, the infection rates are not improving. During a visit from the state’s second-in-charge in Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday in the county seat of Mayville, there was plenty of worry and discussion by local officials about the possible travel ban to Pennsylvania.

“The governor addressed the challenges of contiguous states like Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut where there is such interaction,” Hochul said. “There’s an interconnectedness that you don’t have with other states so we’ve been working together.”

Elected officials near the border understand the synergy between the counties. If a ban was enacted, it would create havoc for both sides.

As stringent as Gov. Tom Wolf has been, it’s amazing he has not placed bans on residents traveling to the Empire State. Though infection rates there are the third-lowest in the nation, it remains a huge hot spot, especially in New York City and to the east in portions of Elmira.

Consider only the Chautauqua County tallies. Though it is still on the low end for the full state, concerns are growing after issues in the Tanglewood Group, an adult living facility in the Jamestown area.

On Thursday, there were additional concerns with another cluster near Dunkirk and Fredonia. Since the neighboring county’s reopening on May 19, there has been an additional 871 cases.

Yikes.

Yet New York is worried about travelers to here? If anything, it should be the other way around.

John D’Agostino is the regional editor of the Times Observer, The Post-Journal and OBSERVER in Dunkirk, N.Y. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call (716) 487-1111, ext. 253.

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