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Public health officials say social distancing, mask wearing must continue in Seneca County

Public health officials in Seneca County are doubling down on CDC recommended guidance as parts of the economy reopen.

“As the region begins to reopen, we must approach each new phase with caution and remain vigilant to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in our communities,” said Vickie Swinehart, Seneca County Public Health Director. The CDC says asymptomatic people can spread the virus.

Officials are asking the public to continue mask wearing, and social distancing practices.

“We are asking all of our citizens who are able to wear a facial covering or cloth face mask to comply with the Governor’s Executive Order and do so when they are in public places. We know that we can reduce transmission of COVID-19 by properly wearing a cloth facial-covering”, added Swinehart. Cloth facial-covering should be washed after each use either in a washing machine or by hand with warm soap and water.

Seneca County Attorney, David Ettman explained the legality of the Governor’s order. “The Governor’s Executive Order 202.17, which provided for mandatory face coverings for essentially all persons in New York State, became effective at 8:00 p.m. on April 17, 2020. The Executive Order requires anyone over the age of two and able to medically tolerate a face covering to be required to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face-covering when in a public place and unable to maintain, or when not maintaining social distance,” he said.

According to Ettman, this Executive Order, as well as the Executive Order limiting public gatherings to no more than 10 people and further requiring postponement or cancellation of all non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason, are still in effect through at least June 7, 2020 by virtue of Executive Order 202.29. Nothing in Phase 1 of NY FORWARD has changed these directives. These are the rules in Seneca County and violations will be taken very seriously as threats to the health and recovery process for our community.

“These orders have been put in place to protect our residents’ health because no one is immune and there is no treatment for COVID-19,” Swinehart continued. “Everyone can help reduce the spread by wearing a facial covering while in public places especially in public indoor spaces. In addition, we must also wash our hands frequently, continue to social distance by staying at least 6 feet apart from individuals who are not members of our households, we should consider density when going out in public and avoid areas with increased density and stay home when we are sick.”

The spread of the virus can be slowed, and by most measures has been slowed from public spaces. Nursing homes continue to be a challenge around the state.

“If we all commit to doing these small actions, we can make a big difference in the amount of disease within our community as well as re-open our local economy safely while simultaneously protecting the public’s health,” Swinehart concluded.