From the Desk of John C. Whitney, P.E.
Grand Island, NY. Dec. 2, 2021 - As Town Supervisor of the Town of Grand Island, I cannot place my support behind the mandatory mask mandate issued by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. Personally, I wear a mask where required and support vaccinations. However, I feel that the mandate will damage our businesses by forcing our residents to cross the bridge to Niagara County, where the mandate doesn’t exist. I have received several pleas from local businesses and residents asking me not to support the mandate. While I recognize that the Covid-19 Pandemic virus has become a widespread global disease that will likely never be eradicated, I believe that managing it by declaring a State of Emergency and declaring mandates every time a new variant and/or spike in cases arises is counterproductive. I also believe that doing so has negative impacts on mental and general well-being. It will place negative impacts on businesses and schools including their ability to cope with and manage what will likely be regular occurrences in the coming months and years.
I also recognize that this virus will continue to be part of our every-day life and must no longer be used to infringe on individual rights and freedom by declaring a State of Emergency, issuing mandates, and ultimately closing public access to local businesses.
Actions associated with mandates decrease capacity, eliminate jobs, and severely limit the ability to hire.
I believe that a long-term management plan is required to manage the Covid-19 virus and suggest that Erie County and New York State prepare plans that proactively address hospital capacity issues that do not impact the health and well-being of our residents by suspending certain procedures. I ask the County and State to allocate ARPA funds to increase hospital capacity to meet the increases.
Due to Grand Island’s proximity to neighboring Niagara County, I feel that this mandate will cause economic damage to our residents and businesses. Therefore, I support proposed legislation in the New York State Senate that would require approval by the Town Board of the County Executive’s or County Health Board’s extension of a State of Emergency beyond 30 days within our Town.